Joan is Okay; Weike Wang
Penguin Random House Audio - 2022
Narrator: Catherine Ho - very good
Joan is a 36 year old Chinese American, her parents who came to American in search of a better life. Joan works as an attending physician in a busy ICU unit of a New York City hospital. She works long hours, sometimes 7-days a week and doesn't have a life outside of work. In fact, when her father dies unexpectedly back in Shanghai, Joan goes to China taking only the weekend off to be with her family.
By contrast, Joan's brother Fang is living his version of the American dream in an upscale Connecticut neighborhood. He's married, into material possessions and lots of vacations for the family. His wife can't understand why Joan does not like jewelry, shopping or vacations.
When Joan is forced by the HR Department at the hospital to take a proper bereavement leave, she is forced to reflect on the past and her present situation.
This story takes place around the early pandemic and has both a serious side and some fun scenes as well. Joan's neighbor for example, is a compulsive shopper who wants to be a minimalist like Joan, giving away his possessions and then repurchasing things he gave away once again. In many ways Joan is Okay is a quiet kind of story yet it gives the reader much to think about and, I think it would make a good discussion book as well. Joan is a great character study as were her family members. She reminded my of Keiko in the Convenience Store Woman, another book which I loved as, at least on audio, Joan appears to be somewhere on the spectrum. I enjoyed this book, it was a quick, interesting listen (the audio book was just over six hours.) I do wish that the ending was not quite as rushed. Recommended.
Rating - 4/5 stars
(Thanks go to PRH Audio for providing me this book at no cost in exchange for my unbiased review. The book releases in the US tomorrow.)