That Time I Loved You

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

Thanks to WW Norton & Co and NetGalley for providing this advance reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review. 

This was one of my most satisfying reads of the year (2018). There’s a quirky, meditative mood as these connected stories unfold and we learn about this eclectic mix of neighbors. The residents are very diverse: Jamaican, Chinese from Hong Kong, East Indian, Portuguese, Italian, and Greek. Living on “sister” streets in a Toronto neighbor, they maintain a friendly veneer. But their interactions take on a new tone after a sudden string of parents commit suicide. Through these stories, the outer layers are peeled away and the characters are refreshingly revealed as bizarre, hurt or damaged. Each story has a Twin Peaks feel, innovative and engaging but peculiar (not scary but unexpected)–sometimes grim or bittersweet, other times, both.

June, a middle grade student, serves as a common thread as Readers see into the homes and a bit into the lives of her neighbors. Leung combines searing and loving insights about how these residents have struggled or continue to do so. Deep truths about modern lives and timeless human conditions can be seen in these few blocks of houses.

My favorite stories were “Sweets,” “Things,” and “Treasure.”  But I think all the stories are good and several relate back to others, filling in gaps and informing some like Roshomon.

I would definitely read upcoming books by Leung.

[Per the publisher’s request, this review will be posted elsewhere (i.e., Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon) on 2/15/19, two weeks prior to the book’s US publication date of 2/26/19.]
Was this review helpful?
Carrianne Leung's That Time I Loved You tells the stories of several people in a Toronto suburb in the 1970s - beginning with June, a young girl who reveals that several parents have died in a year. (Be aware that suicide is a frequent issue in the book.) It's not entirely "lives of quiet desperation" but certainly that element is dominant in several stories. The characters are all connected by neighborhood proximity, creating an opportunity for Leung to provide depth about characters, even in stories in which they are less significant, particularly June, whose stories open and close the book. Reminiscent of Elizabeth Strout's Anything is Possible. 

While not 100% even in pacing and tone, Leung explores ethnic diversity and the human condition in interesting ways. A solid effort. 

Thanks to NetGalley for a free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Carianne Leung is the author of a masterful and heartfelt collection of linked short stories. The cover depicts a middle class Toronto neighborhood home. What stories were hidden away in this house? How would they change or connect the people within?

I was not disappointed. Each story was a gem. The seemingly peaceful corner of suburbia was jarred that year, 1979, by a series of suicides. Some stories are told from the viewpoint of a young child trying to cope with growing up as well as the deaths of these adults (didn’t they know everything? wouldn't they be the wise ones?) Adults told other stories about their "ideal" home, neighbors or family. Most often these were not what they imagined. 

Leung has empathy, humor and insight into her characters and their relationships.
The reader will embrace them all and remember them well after the stories end.
Highly recommended.
Was this review helpful?
An imaginative novel in short stories about a Toronto suburb in the 70s and 80s told through the eyes of its residents. In turn funny, poignant, and heartbreaking, That Time I Loved You lingers in the mind and on the heart. Beautiful.
Was this review helpful?
First and foremost, thank you to Net Galley for the ARC I was given in exchange for a fair and honest review. This was easily the best book that I have received in my time as a Net Galley reader and I couldn't recommend it more strongly, 
Second, thank you to Carrianne Leung for writing what was easily the most compelling, intimate short story collection I have ever read.  
Confession: I was a little hesitant when I started reading this. In my experience, shorty story collections tend to live in a zone that's reminiscent of Cds:  there are a few standout pieces, but there's a whole lot more that feels like filler. Spoiler (not really): that was not the case here as every single story was intensely raw and human.
 
That's not to say there weren't standouts; "Sweets" was, in my opinion, the best by a longshot. It was heartbreaking, had the kind of character development that many writers fail to achieve in a 600 page novel and wrapped up in an aesthetically flawless way. Seriously: beautiful story. It outlined the development of a relationship between a Chinese immigrant grandmother and the granddaughter she sees as frivolous (June, who is the focus of three stories and, to some extent, the "glue that holds it all together," if you'll pardon the cliche there), as well as the bond that develops between the grandma and a neighbor child over their shared complicated relationship to gender . It tackles the issue of identity in a way that read as being effortless: it wasn't like there was some message being spoon fed to the reader, it was simple and nuanced. It was a story that says "here. This is what people are. They are a puzzle of pieces and sometimes those pieces fit, and other times they don't." I feel like I'm failing to capture this story without giving spoilers and while I'm not inherently opposed to spoilers in a book review, I really am for this story because I think I really think it's worth having a somewhat open mind when you go into it. Rambling. I'm rambling. Just read it.

http://bibwithblog.blogspot.com/2018/09/review-of-that-time-i-loved-you-by.html
Was this review helpful?