Cover Image: Paper Names

Paper Names

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Member Reviews

This book has all the thing I love in a multigenerational story and it started off very strong. But about halfway through it took a strange turn and I REALLY did not like the Oliver character and his storyline. The book culminated in a huge coincidence that I also didn't like. Overall, I just couldn't figure out the point of this book by the end.
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I almost always enjoy a multi-perspective family story, and while this wasn't my favourite I did enjoy it. I did find the Oliver storyline quite predictable and it gave me a lot of inappropriate grooming vibes but maybe the multiple perspectives and jumping timeline just muddled the ages a bit in my mind.
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Paper Names starting out strong but then the pacing lagged.  There’s a few storylines in the novel and I think I would have enjoyed it more if it had left one character in the dust.  In the end the premise felt unoriginal and the plot relied on a big coincidence..
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What are hard read, and that is meant as a compliment. 

Luo captures the complexity of being the child of immigrants so well, and it really hurt to read, because it resonates so well. The writing is effortless, and direct. 

A fantastic novel.
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Thank you Harper Collins Canada for sharing a copy of Paper Names by Susie Luo for me to review on Netgalley.

Paper Names is definitely more of a character based novel than one with lots of plot narratives. It follows a few POVs over multiple timelines that jump back and forth. Reading it on Kindle, I did find myself having trouble keeping track of timelines for a while. The POVs weren’t as hard to follow as they were very different from one another so I think it would be maybe easier with a definitive page break like in a physical copy.
Other than that, it was an interesting read and one that I enjoyed. Not my top read of the year but one that I would recommend to friends who love a character based read.
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Jumping back and forth in time in the years between 1987 and 2016, Paper Names follows Tony, his daughter Tammy, and Oliver, a lawyer who becomes part of their lives. Tony and his wife Kim make the decision to leave their successful jobs in China to move to America, in the hopes of giving their daughter a better future. In America, they start back at the bottom of the food chain, and it's a struggle to work themselves back up. Tammy gets to grow up in America, experiencing a very different life from what her parents had in China. Of course her growth is effected by her parents' experiences as well. Oliver is a handsome white lawyer, trying to distance himself from the sins of his family, only to realize that he's more like them than he thought. These three lives intertwine in this thoughtful novel about family and the way it can impact future generations. 

The characters really make this story shine. They are realistic; they aren't perfect ideal humans. Tony is so focused on giving Tammy a better chance at life that he misses out on forming a better relationship with her. His hard work is inspiring, but there are downsides to the life he chooses. Tammy also works very hard to succeed in America, but she eventually struggles to discern what she really wants out of life. Is she missing part of herself, by not connecting with her Chinese roots? I easily connected with them both. Oliver, on the other hand, is harder to connect with. He tries to separate himself from his family and their money, but he's dependent on them for his success. He seems to want to do better, but makes a lot of poor choices. (And the romance... ew). Despite my dislike of Oliver, I really enjoyed this read. There are touching and heartbreaking moments, and it gives insight into the life of someone who immigrates to America, and the experiences of their children as first generation Americans. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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Short synopsis: Told from 3 perspectives we get a glimpse into a chinese immigrant and the American Dream, his daughter Tammy, and Oliver a wealthy man living in the building he’s a doorman for. 

My thoughts: What a great debut. You could tell from early on this would be a messy book. It was. In all the right ways. It featured love, resilience, respect, hard work, the American dream, sacrifice, and challenges in families and parenthood. 

This story is told through the decades, from multiple points of view, and in a non-linear timeline. I really enjoyed the uniqueness of this story, and how their lives interwove together. 

One line really stood out to me about the sacrifices Tony and his Wife Kim made to create the “American Dream” life for their daughter. They sacrificed everything to start all over in America to provide a good life for her. 

Read if you love:
* The American Dream 
* Interwoven stories 
* Multiple POV 
* Non linear timeline 
* BIPOC debut author
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I didn’t care for this book.
I didn’t particularly care for any of the main characters, except Tony.
Tammy I found to be ungrateful and annoying.
I never warmed up to Oliver.
I also didn’t care for how the narrative jumped around, making it disjointed and jumbled.
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I received an e-galley of Paper Names by Susie Luo from HarperCollins Canada via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed Paper Names for the aspects of being an immigration story - as we follow the father's point of view, but also the perspective of the daughter who is growing up within the American culture. And then of course, having also the white American perspective. The three characters and their stories are intertwined and it is a great story about family, growing up, the decisions we make that form the people we truly are and become.
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This was a powerful debut novel focusing on important and timely topics; race, class, and the immigrant experience.  Told from three different perspectives, Tony-a Chinese born engineer turned doorman; Tammy-his daughter, and Oliver-a rich, white lawyer with dark family secrets, the story is also told in a non-linear timeline that jumps all over the place.
Overall, I really enjoyed the book and the unique perspectives it offered however, I did find it a bit confusing with the different points of view and alternating timelines.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review.
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A story about family, sacrifice, and finding your way in the world. I enjoyed Paper Names for its characters and narrative development. That being said, I wonder if telling the story from Oliver's point of view helped or hindered the 'family' focus of this novel. His relationship with both Tony and Tammy is essential to the story, but distracts from the intricate relationship shared by father and daughter. Otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will recommend it to fans of coming of age stories, family dramas, and diaspora readers.
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I'm always fascinated reading about the experience of children of immigrants and how they navigate growing up America within the traditions and cultures of their parents. This novel sounded similar to that, but unfortunately it didn't click with me. I'm not sure if it was a late-in-the-book plot point that made me cringe or lukewarm interest in the two main characters. The scenes of father Tony and daughter Tammy clashing engaged me, but the lack of history of how they came to be the way they were made the ending scenes lose some of their spark. I liked this book but didn't love it.
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Happy to highlight this new release in “Global Becomes Local” a round-up of new and notable spring AAPI and Asian Heritage Month reads for the Books section of Zoomer magazine. (see column and mini-review at link)
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Paper Names is one that will sneak up on you — you start reading this book and then hours later you realize you are completely immersed in the story and can’t put it down. Luo takes readers through a lyrical journey about imperfect characters figuring out how to survive in a world that sometimes feels like it was designed to push them out. We get three different perspectives — Tony, a Chinese-born engineer who takes his family to America in hopes for a better life, his daughter, Tammy who we essentially grow up with and see pursue a career in law, and Oliver, a wealthy, white attorney who becomes close to the family. 

One of the most impressive parts of this story is the depth and complexity of these characters. They were imperfect and their relationships were complicated but that’s what made them captivating. I loved reading about the way their lives intertwined and especially loved reading about the relationship between Tammy and her father, Tony. Their love for one another was difficult to understand yet heartbreakingly beautiful and vulnerable. The emotional depth Luo achieves with this relationship is remarkable and one that will stick with me for a long time. 

Luo also highlights the struggles that immigrants face when moving to a new country, and the reasons that lead them to come to America. It was an eye-opening experience that really captured the Chine-American experience and made me reflect on the privileges provided to those born within America’s borders. 

I am so surprised this was a Debut novel and I can’t wait to see what else Susie Luo comes out with! 4.75 stars
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This was SUCH a good read. It follows three people: Tony - a Chinese-born engineer now working as a doorman in NYC, his 9 year old daughter Tammy, and Oliver, a young white lawyer who lives at the NYC building that Tony works at. After a moment of violence, their lives are connected from that point on. 

Spanning decades, the narrative jumps between the three characters, and back and forth in time as their story unfolds. It’s a captivating story about immigration, family and what it means to be “American”, and what that “American dream” is. Tony just wants to give his family a better life but the language barrier is making it hard to convey confidence. Oliver has his own dark family secrets that he’s trying to remove himself from while Tammy, as a first-generation American, struggles with balancing her culture while trying to fit in and be equal to her peers. It was really interesting to see that tug of war come through. The way this all plays out is a very compelling story. 

Great for fans of Celeste Ng and Jean Kwok.
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“𝑾𝒆 𝒄𝒂𝒏 𝒐𝒏𝒍𝒚 𝒌𝒏𝒐𝒘 𝒂𝒏𝒐𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓 𝒕𝒐 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒆𝒙𝒕𝒆𝒏𝒕 𝒘𝒆 𝒌𝒏𝒐𝒘 𝒐𝒖𝒓𝒔𝒆𝒍𝒗𝒆𝒔.”

After attending Harper Collins’ Summer Preview event, and getting to listen to author Susie Luo speak about her debut, I was so excited to get to read this.

This is a gorgeously told story, with three distinct viewpoints: Tony (the Chinese immigrant father), Tammy (his daughter) and Oliver (the white man that befriends their family). Luo's prose highlights the inequalities of being an immigrant, especially in America. It is continually mind blowing to me when I hear stories such as Tony’s (fictional or not fictional); he was the lead mechanical engineer in China, but none of his degrees or awards had followed him across the Atlantic. The fact that Tony had to push to ask to be paid what he was worth and what other colleagues received made me so angry with how immigrants are treated. Tony and his wife have to work twice as hard and settle for half as much for a large portion of their lives in their chosen country. Oliver tries to be a character who makes up for mistakes of the past, through giving of his time and being helpful to the Zhang family (although he has some secrets of his own). All three are well developed, complicated characters who you root for and shake your head at. The story itself is a contemplative one; I figured the opening act of Tony saving Clara would be a much bigger part of the action; there’s more of a focus on the characters and their interactions and feelings versus purposive action.

Paper Names is a story of family, connection, home, immigration and dreams. It’s time-hopping structure may be slightly confusing to some, but overall Luo tells a powerful story of finding yourself in life and the relationships you choose. Thank you to Harper Collins Canada and NetGalley for the ARC!
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PAPER NAMES is the story of Tony, who immigrated to New York from China to give his daughter, Tammy, a better life. Life is not easy for Tony, and the father-daughter relationship he has with Tammy is complex and can be both loving and ugly. Told in multiple POV, including that of white lawyer Oliver, who becomes intersected in Tony & Tammy's lives, this story had layers of sadness, violence, regret, acceptance and love.

This novel was a quick read with short chapters, a fast pace and engaging characters and I really enjoyed the exploration of how family choices have such an impact on the generations next to come. There were some twists that I didn't see coming but they only worked to enhance this intriguing debut.
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A novel which looks at a family of first and second generation Chinese Americans through the lenses of family loyalty, identity, and money.

When highly qualified Tongheng and Kuan-yin Zhang emigrated from China to the US, they had to start at the bottom again as Tony and Kim. Tony is driven both by his need to have no restrictions on his potential as well as to open the best of all opportunities for their daughter Tianfei/Tammy. Tony starts as a janitor but it is in his next step up, as a doorman, that he encounters Oliver, a young white lawyer, who will have a catalytic effect on all their lives.

The novel spans decades but does not move in a linear chronology which I found a little confusing (and maybe also unnecessary). The chapters move between third person povs from Tony and Oliver and first person narration from Tammy. Further into the novel we go back to the time when Tongheng and Kuan-yin were in China and get an insight into both Tongheng’s motivation to emigrate and also his relationship with his own father, which later plays out in his relationship with Tammy.

While both Tongheng and Tammy are well-drawn three-dimensional characters, I didn’t feel we were breaking new ground in their story of clashing generations. Oliver is the wild card that brings some originality, and more overt tragedy, into the novel. He is generous with his time, money, and connections for the Zhang family, particularly Tammy, but at the same time has a selfish and self-preserving streak that we only get the occasional peek at until the devastating climax when he has to choose where his loyalties lie.

There’s plenty to like here and the novel is very readable, so while three stars may seem a bit mean it feels just right to me.

Thanks to Harlequin and Netgalley for the digital review copy.
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Paper Names follows a Chinese immigrant family and their struggles to conform to an “American” lifestyle in NYC. Tony, the father, Tammy the young daughter, and Oliver whose perspective makes more sense as the plot churns forward, are the three alternating points-of-view you will hear from. In the beginning, a crime occurs outside of the apartment building where Tony works as a doorman, and his involvement throws him into the spotlight as a hero… which has a ripple effect on their lives and future.

I felt the most compelled by the father’s perspective as he navigates the difficulties of raising his daughter in America so that he could provide her with better opportunities, however this caused such a strain to their relationship which was heartbreaking at times.

There are three perspectives, but I wanted so badly to hear from the mother’s view. Personally, I was not a fan of Oliver, but he is necessary to the story which you will soon see once you read it. The ending is gut wrenching, but it’s a must-read. This story shocked me, infuriated me, and affected me beyond expectations. Paper Names is such a page-turner but it will absolutely move you, especially when it comes to the resilience of their family and the complicated experiences they went through.

Overall, I thought the book was unforgettable and brilliantly well-written. If you love literary fiction, beautiful writing and complicated family dynamics, this one is perfect for you.

Thank you to @hanoversquarepress and @netgalley for my advanced e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
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Luo is based in New York City and has a law degree from Cornell. She wrote this, her debut novel, while working as an investment banker.  It is a story about the immigrant experience in America and the desire to give your children a better life. Told from three points of view over many years, we meet Tony, Tammy and Oliver. Tony was a head engineer and his wife a doctor in China and they gave that up to emigrate to the USA with their young daughter Tammy.  Oliver is an American with family secrets who lives at the high end residence where Tony has become a doorman.  When Tony becomes a hero after a violent attack, Oliver enters his family's life and influences it for years. This entertaining and sometimes humorous story is told in jumping time lines, but following it felt easy. It is a great recommendation for fiction readers and I really enjoyed it.
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