Author: Weike Wang
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: January 18, 2022
Book Description: Joan is a thirtysomething ICU doctor at a busy New York City hospital. The daughter of Chinese parents who came to the United States to secure the American dream for their children, Joan is intensely devoted to her work, happily solitary, successful. She does look up sometimes and wonder where her true roots lie: at the hospital, where her white coat makes her feel needed, or with her family, who try to shape her life by their own cultural and social expectations.
Once Joan and her brother, Fang, were established in their careers, her parents moved back to China, hoping to spend the rest of their lives in their homeland. But when Joan’s father suddenly dies and her mother returns to America to reconnect with her children, a series of events sends Joan spiraling out of her comfort zone just as her hospital, her city, and the world are forced to reckon with a health crisis more devastating than anyone could have imagined.
Deceptively spare yet quietly powerful, laced with sharp humor, Joan Is Okay touches on matters that feel deeply resonant: being Chinese-American right now; working in medicine at a high-stakes time; finding one’s voice within a dominant culture; being a woman in a male-dominated workplace; and staying independent within a tight-knit family. But above all, it’s a portrait of one remarkable woman so surprising that you can’t get her out of your head.
Rating: 4 Stars
Book Review: Joan is an ICU doctor in NYC. She loves her job more than anything and works as many hours as possible. When the book begins, her father suddenly dies and she goes to China with her brother and stays just for the weekend, and is back at work that Monday.
Her brother who lives in Connecticut and loves Joan very much, wants her to spend more time with the family, especially when their mother comes for a long visit. She tries to avoid all the gatherings until work gives her a raise and a mandated 6 week vacation.
Suddenly Joan does not know what to do with herself. At the same time, news of a new virus in China is coming to light, and everything is thrown off kilter for Joan, her brother and her mom who is suddenly stuck in the US.
This book is an inner dialogue of a socially awkward woman. The writing is sparse and lovely. Wang gets to the point, there is no flourishes in her storytelling but it really works for the characters she dreams up. This is a short read that should not be missed.
Thank you NetGalley and Random House for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.