Cover Image: Ghost Forest

Ghost Forest

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Member Reviews

𝑻𝒉𝒆 π’…π’‚π’š 𝒂𝒇𝒕𝒆𝒓 π’Žπ’š 𝒅𝒂𝒅 π’…π’Šπ’†π’…, π’Žπ’š π’Žπ’π’Ž 𝒕𝒐𝒍𝒅 π’Žπ’†, 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒐𝒖𝒍 𝒓𝒆𝒕𝒖𝒓𝒏𝒔 π’‰π’π’Žπ’† 𝒔𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒏 π’…π’‚π’šπ’” 𝒂𝒇𝒕𝒆𝒓 π’‘π’‚π’”π’”π’Šπ’π’ˆ.

𝑺𝒐 𝑫𝒂𝒅 π’Šπ’” π’„π’π’Žπ’Šπ’π’ˆ π’ƒπ’‚π’„π’Œ? 𝑰 π’‚π’”π’Œπ’†π’…:

This book truly is full of grace, tenderness, beauty and pain. As an Astronaut family that immigrated to Vancouver, Canada our narrator spills her family’s story and her guts in snippets. With a father who works in Hong Kong, she lives with her mother and grandparents with both feet planted firmly in the Western World. She tells us, this was never an unusual existence, as there were so many other families just like hers, with father’s that came and went, working hard to support their families and give them a better, more secure future. But this too has created, in her own relationship with her father, distance further than the miles between them. He did not want to leave his manufacturing job behind, but it costs him family bonds.

Early in the telling, when she was just a little girl, she learns her father was sad to lose her baby brother. He is a traditional Chinese father, who most revere sons. She promises to be better than a son but as time passes, it’s not an easy promise to keep. Once she starts school, the glaring differences between east and west become more apparent. It is in the stories, memories that we watch her grow and become more Canadian than Chinese, a fact that is hard for her father to digest. When he does have time with her, she isn’t the respectful daughter she would have been had she grown roots in her homeland. When they are together, there seems to be a coldness, his face reads disappointment in his children and he never speaks of love. When they are in the same space, every moment seems wasted, still just as separate as they are when apart. The longed for connections never seem to be born. The differences between them becomes a wall, and when her father is seriously ill, there is much to confront. Without understanding the past how can she understand the present, or the future? With cultural clashes, misunderstandings and assumptions abound. Eastern parents love just as deeply as Western parents, but it is the expressions that differ. How do you comprehend what the heart feels when so much is lost in translation? How can we forgive our parent’s failures if we don’t understand them?

Her father owes much to women in his life, and if anything it is their stories that really drive the novel and engage the reader. Three generations under one roof with her grandmother lending a playfully wise spirit to the telling. She carries much of their history, her own a heavy one, and is trying to keep their Chinese traditions alive. Her presence feels even stronger than the narrator’s mother, but throughout her father’s absence is the one constant. It is also the hole in her heart that she struggles to fill. With his dying days, she finally has the chance to meet him, in a sense. When he is gone she is able to, maybe, forgive him for not being the sort of father who said I love you.

It’s a difficult review to write because there isn’t one particular meaning to pin down. It’s more the poetry of the past, floating by, family stories that are often heartbreaking but attempt to lend clarity to behaviors, choices. I think it’s a gorgeous read. Particularly, the hunger to reach her father on an intimate level is an ache so many children, of all ages and ethnicity, have. With an immigrant’s background you are measuring your loved ones against a country whose traditions and expressions are sometimes wildly foreign. They’re doomed to failure. It is an interesting exploration about the meaning of love, how we weigh it, what we require from others to feel it. Yes, read it.

Published July 13, 2021

One World

Random House Publishing
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This book! First off, the cover is swoon worthy. Then, there's the poetic language that Pik-Shuen Fung employs in Ghost Forest to share about the loss of a father in snapshot vignettes. 

Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for sharing this book with me. All thoughts are my own.
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What a gorgeous, poignant book! I absolutely adored the writing style of Ghost Forest, with its short, touching chapters that keep the pages turning. I wonder how much of this novel draws from Fung's own family background - the novel explores a daughter's family history and especially relationship with her "astronaut father," meaning he stayed in Hong Kong to work while the rest of the family immigrated to Canada. With beautiful, lyrical prose that packs a punch, this book will stay with me for a long time. I might even call my dad.
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This is a heartbreaking story about the loss of a father- something we all have or will experienced, hopefully in the far future. I found this incredibly hard to read, but expertly written. It is the story of memory and family. This packs a tremendous punch in less than 300 pages- read it!
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Thank you to Random House and NetGalley for the Reader's Copy!

Now available.

Sparing and prosaic, Pik-Sheun Fung's "Ghost Forest" is a touching ode to immigrant families and the sacrifices they must make. Separated from her father from a young age, Pik-Sheun Fung has difficulty making a connection with this seemingly distant man in her adulthood. Told in halting, overlapping stories, Pik-Sheun mines the depths of her mother's and grandmother's past to build a connection to the present. "Ghost Forest" is a delicately wrought reckoning, a portrait of an imperfect father and daughter and an ode to the love that binds them.
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I learned so much. I related so much. I smiled and teared up and laughed so much. What a lovely first book by the talented author Pik-Shuen Fung. This is the story of the author asking her mother and grandmother questions to understand her world better as she copes with the loss of her father. 

Gorgeously written in small chapters with often just a sentence or two per page. In one section, the author discusses in Chinese art the absence of art on the canvas is in itself part of the art - the missing or the absence of paint. The author beautifully mimicked that tradition with words in a page. Many times, the absence of many words on a page spoke loudly and clearly to me. 

Heartfelt thanks to One World and RandomHouse for the advanced copy. I’m grateful as I recommend this magnificent book.
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Ghost Forest is a quick read which lingers with me past the last page.  An admirable debut novel, it intrigued me as the main character looks back on her family after her father’s death.  It takes place before and after Hong Kong is returned to China in 1997. The father remains in Hong Kong while the family moves to Canada. It is an endearing story as queations of communication and love are explored.
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The unnamed protagonist has to figure out how to grieve after her father dies, when her family doesn't discuss emotions at all. He had been an "astronaut father," staying in Hong Kong to work while the rest of the family emigrated ahead of the 1997 handover to China.

This memoir is told as a series of vignettes, some from her mother or grandmother as well. We see glimpses of the lives they had in Hong Kong, in Canada, and stories from World War II in their voices. Some of the vignettes are very short, a fragment of memory, and some are longer, meandering tales with sparse details giving insight into how these women grew up and lived. The fragmented nature reflects the way immigrants can interact with the world around them. Their experiences aren't the same as those who never left Hong Kong or those that always lived in Canada. The differences in culture can be stark, and an empty ache left behind when the women don't fit in.

Asian cultures don't usually verbalize their love for one another, so it's difficult for the main narrator to bridge the gap of what she was raised with between two cultures and how her father was raised. The little hurts are there, not discussed, making grief difficult to bear. This book is that journey, and we feel less of the ache as it progresses, becoming more of wistfulness and sense of belonging. It's beautifully done, and a thoughtful read.
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I read this in one sitting. The narrator's parents are from Hong Kong. Her father is referred to as an astronaut father because he stays in Hong Kong to work and her mother, sister and grandmother immigrate to Hong Kong. She only sees her dad a couple times a year and their relationship isn't close. The chapters are super short, almost like a snapshot of her life as she is westernized by living in Vancouver but trying to maintain her heritage. I found the writing interesting and even though it was choppy it just worked.

I would like to thank Netgallley and Random House for providing me with a copy of this little gem.
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So much heart and soul packed into to this slim collection of linked vignettes. This well immensely readable and remarkably well edited - including and excluding just the right bits.
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Ghost Forest is one of those books I will continue to think about long after putting it down. The short vignettes read more like an intimate conversation with the narrator than anything else. The sections vary in length and topic but all show touch points in a winding path through life. They highlight the importance of little turning points and conversations that shape us.  Ghost Forest is a beautiful peek into the life of someone else and is at once specific to the author and universal in it’s themes of family, disconnection, and uncertainty.  I loved Fung’s raw and emotional writing style and highly recommend this book.
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This book is written in an extremely unique style and therefore it can't be for everyone but I found it to be  full of gorgeous prose. I imagine there is much to be dissected in it's style. For instance, at times it felt like you were reading inter-connected and yet unconnected vignettes all that the same time. I couldn't help but wonder if this was a reflection of the immigrant experience in and of itself. If you are looking for something different , with striking writing I would recommend this..
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I am really enjoying this golden age of the fragmented novel/book. This one was a bit TOO fragmented for me, but there were times I really got into the rhythm of it. Ultimately, reading on a screen kind of dimmed it for me. I think a tactile book might have left more of an impression.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group - Random House for the advanced reader copy of Ghost Forest by Pik-Shueng Fung. 

Wow, wow, wow. I don't really know that there is much more to say than that but I will elaborate. Ghost Forest tells the story of one person's life as the daughter of an "astronaut" father, which means that her father stays in Hong Kong while his family moves to Canada. The family is only together for limited amounts of time during the year, creating a complicated relationship between father and daughter. Ghost Forest is told in memories as the daughter remembers her life and how her father fits into it as she mourns his early death. 

Ghost Forest is one of those books that reminded me why I love to read. It's rare to read a book that so eloquently captures the often complicated father-daughter relationships that many of us can relate to. Readers should be aware that this book is told using the narrator's memories, which have varying lengths. Some chapters are only a couple of sentences long but that doesn't change the impact that Ghost Forest will have on you if you choose to read it.  Pik-Shuen Fung gives us all a perfect example of how to use words and sentences to their maximum effect. Fung doesn't complicate things, she just lays bare the memories of the narrator and allows us along for the ride. Ghost Forest is a glorious read. Don't miss it.
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A short, thoughtful little read. Definitely gave me similar feelings to Goodbye, Vitamin, although the latter had a bit more of a narrative arc and more humor. The vignette style is sometimes hit or miss for me, but if you like that writing style this may be more up your alley. I also liked the way cultural identity and immigration were woven through the vignettes, and I also think if you had closer connections to a Chinese/Hong Kong cultural identity this may also capture you a bit more than it did for me.

Thank you to Pik-Shuen Fung and the One World (Penguin Random House) for providing me with an early e-copy of this work in exchange for an honest review. Ghost Forest comes out on July 13.
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This is a short lovely novel about grieving a father you don't really know.  Told in vignettes by an unnamed narrator, it's about a family whose father stayed in Hong Kong while everyone else moved to Canada.  The narrator spent time with her father in snippets.  He's been a blank space in her life and in the lives of the rest of the family and yet at the same time he looms large.  It's a different view of the immigrant experience as well.  The writing is beautiful- huge emotions are conveyed in a few words.  Thanks to netgalley for the ARC.  Highly recommend for fans of literary fiction.
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Small little snippets of a life and of a family. Grief, family and the absence of feelings. 

Beautifully written and an exciting look as Asian live. 

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book.
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Told in snapshots, this slim novel tells the story of a young woman grieving the loss of her father while processing the cultural and physical distances that separated them.
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i am normally not a fan of this style of narration, but i found it to be amazingly appropriate for this book. hearing about the protagonist's past, her mother's, and her grandmother's made the story feel so rich. the grief the protagonist felt for her father and the insights into their complicated relationship were extremely interesting to read as well. i am grateful to have had the chance to read this ARC!
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Ghost Forest is a sparse reflection on grief and missed opportunities. The novel consists of dozens of small chapters, vignettes that describe memories of her father, feelings of yearning and loss, and memories shared by her mother and grandmother.

What's on the page deeply informs what is omitted, which is illustrated beautifully in a scene about ink painting. The negative space is as important as the ink itself, because it provides depth and deepens the meaning and importance of what is there. Ghost Forest feels like a novel version of an ink painting of a forest, each chapter a tree that helps create a fuller narrative of the forest.

Our protagonist is somewhat haunted by the absence of her father, both in life and after his death, and the opportunities she squandered to get closer to him and to know him. Her actions are also largely motivated by her western upbringing in Canada. For instance, she feels robbed of affection because her parents didn't tell her they loved her. Only later in life does she realize their love was demonstrated in the form of constant sacrifice, and therefore does not need to be stated.

This novel is quiet and full of deep, poignant realizations about life and relationships, as well as wisdom imparted from familial relationships. You only really get to know the protagonist through her relationships to her family, her countries of Hong Kong and Canada, and her culture. I think this would be well worth revisiting and I very much enjoyed it.
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