Cover Image: Joan Is Okay

Joan Is Okay

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Member Reviews

3.5 Joan Is Okay was a story that at the beginning was a little hard for me to get into it that's one of the reasons I gave 3.5 stars to the book but later around 30% I started to get more into the story making it more enjoyable and more understandable where Joan's story was about.

Joan was a physician in the Medical ICU of New York City, she was trying to live a new life until her mother returns to America to reconnect with her, things weren't that easy, so many situations started to evolve that Joan was not so happy about including a virus that is bringing so much hate to the Chinese and Asian people. 

Joan is Okay is a book that explores situations many Chinese-Americans lived during the pandemic, the constant harassment, and bullying from other people and cultures that thought they were to blame for what was happening to the world but mainly we follow Joan in her daily life, how imperfect she was like a regular person, trying to survive in a world full of roadblocks and new paths.

Joan's relationship with her family with her brother and mother was not so easy, it felt like the relationship between them was very cold, this is something I have a hard time understanding but I know is something cultural, the lack of friendship between parents and their kids, is more like a formal, strict way. 

Joan is Okay is a book about a heroine not being perfect, having flaws, and many things that will make her go through emotional changes and situations that will make this book even better, she is like anyone in this world trying to find herself in an ocean of mistakes.

so many good things to say about this book and the amazing characters that we get to know but I will leave you with this so you can explore more about it and find more about Joan and her life.

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group.
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Joan has as many iterations of her name as she has coworkers, neighbors, and family.  And each of them feels free to castigate her for the life choices she has made which are right for her.  Everyone seems concerned she should or will regret those choices.  She keeps trying to tell them she is okay, satisfied with her choices as she faces the death of her father, her unappreciated forced bereavement leave, and her return to work as the pandemic explodes and the virus enters her life.  A charming novel about explaining, or refusing to explain, your satisfaction with a lifestyle others find confounding because your life choices do not align with theirs.
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3.75 stars

An intriguing and quirky read. The first two thirds of the book is fairly desultory, mostly dealing with the daily routine of a workaholic doctor in NYC. Joan's parents are Chinese but she was born in the U.S. She is different -- although that is a word and defining term she hates. She doesn't have a social life and lives in an apartment that she has never bothered to furnish. She is fairly unemotional and not close to her upwardly mobile status obsessed brother and his wife. But she doesn't come across as being unhappy. She is a good doctor who loves her job and working situation. Her HR department is puzzled by her and eventually force her to take some mandated time off after she goes to China upon her father's death and returns after just a couple days.

Faced with weeks of no work, Joan is stymied. In the meantime, her mother has flown over and Joan's boundary-challenged neighbor has started foisting books and furniture off on her. And then -- we are in the early months of 2020 now-- the pandemic hits. As we all recall, things started building slowly and then it seemed that all of a sudden we were in a panic.

This is an interesting read about a woman who doesn't react to events or daily life the way most people do, and how she is judged for that. Thanks to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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This one packs a quiet punch. Joan is an ICU doctor in a NYC hospital. She very much enjoys being around the machines, and is very duty bound. Always available to work, devoted to her work, really knows what she wants out of life. She does not bend to society's rules about what a woman is supposed to be doing at what age a woman is supposed to be doing it. She drives her brother Fang insane. Fang and his wife Tami live very extravagantly and wish for Joan to take advantage of all American consumerism has to offer too! I found myself really thinking about the dynamic between family, individualism, society expectations, and also how that all changes by being an immigrant or first born generation also. Truly look for this book to be a great book club pick, and be widely discussed!
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Joan has always been completely comfortable being herself — a straightforward person with simple desires. But everyone else seems to want her to be someone else, like in her job as an ICU doctor, where everyone always wants more of her, and her Chinese family, who demand she fit their expectations. But when her father dies and her mother is determined to grow closer to her children, Joan is pushed from her comfort zone. And then there’s a global pandemic that will completely change every aspect of Joan’s life.

To be honest, I've been really avoiding reading books that deal directly with Covid because it feels too soon. But it was only in like the last third of this book, and reading it through Joan's honest, no-nonsense perspective actually made it okay. And beyond that, it was a unique and intriguing slice of life narrative that I fully enjoyed from beginning to end. NO ONE EVER ASK JOAN TO CHANGE. SHE'S JUST PERFECT AS SHE IS.
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I found in very difficult to get in engaged in this book but by the end I was glad that I finished it.
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"Joan is Okay" by Weike Wang follows the life of a quirky thirtysomething ICU doctor as she tries to navigate a world in which she is constantly expected to be someone different than who she actually is.  Her boss expects her to take more time off like everyone else.  Her mother and brother expect her to be a more devoted Chinese-American daughter.  Her sister-in-law expects her to be more maternal.  Her neighbor expects her to be more social and to find enjoyment in the things that he likes.  Told from Joan's point of view, this is an interesting look into the mind of someone who doesn't quite fit in anywhere and is completely fine with that; it is everyone else that is not.  

I liked this book, though I think it will not be for everyone.  I identified with Joan and could easily put myself in her shoes.  Joan is a very realistic character.  I like how the author introduced relevant issues such as racism, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the idea that women can be complete people without being wives and mothers.  I did feel, however, that the ending was rather abrupt and unsatisfying.  

Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for the opportunity to read an advanced digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Weike Wang writes characters with some of the most distinctive voices I’ve ever read; her previous novel Chemistry had a similar straightforward sparseness that felt both orderly and soothing. Joan is also a scientist, an attending physician at a Manhattan hospital. She relishes her job, her usefulness, and as such, the feeling of being a cog in the wheel. When her father dies, she takes only a weekend to fly to China for the funeral, though his loss permeates her life in the months that follow.

She is an enigma to her family, coworkers, and neighbors, all of whom try in different ways to forge connections and draw her from her work-focused ways. When the hospital makes her take off for bereavement, the newfound time forces her to examine her identity more closely than she has in ages–and it’s drawn into sharper focus when COVID hits and Asians become targets.

I loved being in Joan’s very literal head and her full acceptance of herself and her own life path.
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Wowow, I am blown away by how much depth Wang built into Joan and how intimate Wang brought us into her memories, grief, and worldview. I had issues with the pacing and speed of the book but the writing is impeccable and the timing of this book’s release makes it a must-read for everyone. I truly cannot say enough about Wang’s writing in this novel — I was not completely won by her first book but this one is going to be a 2022 favorite for me.
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I love Joan.  She is quirky.  She is funny (without intent?).  She is simple but seems so complicated and confusing to those around her.  This is my favorite kind of novel.  Character driven stories that give us a glimpse into someone else’s daily life.  The language here is sparse - much like Joan’s apartment;  nothing flowery or unnecessary.  Socially awkward, Joan is most content when she’s at work donning her doctor coat and she’s at work a lot.  Joan is uncomfortably literal, unfamiliar with pop culture references, and doesn’t understand social cues but she’s crazy smart, knows what she wants, and is a character you can’t help but love.
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Was excited to start this book and it kept my interest throughout. Kept anticipating a big moment but there wasn’t much of an arc. The beauty of this book is in its witty subtlety and lovable main character. 

Jiu-an (Joan) is singularly focused on her career. She is an ivy-league graduate who has no hobbies or interests outside of her job as an ICU attending physician. One life-changing event happens after another, forcing her to examine her priorities and relationships. People who likely have her best interest in mind all have things they want to change about her. This book is about the weight of those opinions and if they are indeed what’s best for Joan/Jiu-an.

Joan is Okay reminds me of Convenience Store Woman in its exploration of othering and societal expectations for women through a memorable main character. Fans of the latter would also enjoy this. It’s also about identity, grief, and home. 

Learned at the end of this novel, in the ‘About the Author’ section, that Weike Wang earned her undergraduate degree in chemistry and her doctorate in public health from Harvard. Would be curious to know how much of this novel is autobiographical.
 
A couple of my favorite quotes:
 
“Was it harder to be a woman? Or an immigrant? Or a Chinese person outside of China? And why did being a good any of the above require you to edit yourself down so you could become someone else?”
 
“So, othering, did that term apply to me and was it what I’d internalized? Whenever I heard news of deportation or the line that people must enter the legal way, fear of my own removal would start to reflux. Then I had to remind myself that I was born here, that this land was as much mine as it was theirs. But were these facts written on my face? Was my being born here and my parents’ legal arrival carved into our facial features or the color of our skin? And even if I hadn’t been born here, had I been one of those kids brought over by her parents at age two, five, twelve, then naturalized, what made them and their families any less American if they were the most American of all things – fresh off the boat, in search of better days?”
 
Many thanks to Random House, NetGalley, and Dr. Wang for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Perhaps the best “pandemic” book I’ve read yet, Joan lets us see the pandemic through the eyes of a dedicated doctor and Chinese American living in New York City - pretty much the worst view you could have at the time. 

Joan is a unique, interesting character - at the start of the story her father passes away and Joan’s reaction makes it clear she’s not an emotional person. That coupled with inability to relate to other people and her penchant for taking everything literally probably places her somewhere on the autism spectrum, but the book doesn’t delve into it. Instead it explores her grieving process and never makes the narrative about her needing to change or adapt to the world around her in order to thrive. It’s a refreshing take made all the more interesting by Wang’s unique writing style. 

It took me a while to get into it, but by the end I was fully immersed.
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I did like some things about this, but ultimately it just wasn't for me. I think people who enjoy character-driven, weary literary fiction would enjoy this more than I did. Essentially, nothing happens.
-I expected more COVID instead of it popping up relatively close to the end
-The characters straddled the line of whether or not they felt real to me. Joan largely did but then sometimes her lack of awareness of normal things strained credulity. Her neighbor was a bit much, but her family members and coworkers worked better for me
-I enjoyed the moments when she mentioned the Chinese language and made points about translations and characters, but these were relatively rare
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beautifully observed, really got under my skin. going in did not take in that this was set on the "eve" of the pandemic -- loved the elegant juxtaposition of Joan's quiet, specific, interior voice and the louder outer world
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I really, really enjoyed this book! Wang has such a unique voice and style of writing and I find that refreshing and engaging. It made this book easy to pick up and want to read to know what was going to happen next. It wasn't incredibly fast paced, but it definitely wasn't a drag either when it came to the plot line.

The characters were relatable and real with flaws and quirks. I especially love that in a book, when the characters could be someone I know in "real life." I found myself getting attached to Joan and I miss reading about her life now that I've closed this book.

Wang is an author I will continue to follow and pick up every book she writes.
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Special thanks to Random House Publishing, Random House, and NetGalley for the ARC of this book in exchange for my own opinion.

Joan is Okay. What an aptly named title for a book. To me, this book read like a memoir. I wasn't sure what the message really was here. Joan's parents were from China but came to America. She has a brother Fang, who stayed in China longer than her and when Joan got into a top notch school Harvard, they felt their job as parents were done. They also thought lived by a Chinese saying "Hitting is love; berating is love". I, as a parent, don't agree with that, but its a different culture. Joan liked work, she liked the machinery, in her job as an attending physician at an ICU, more than interacting with people.
 Her brother, Fang, who was a wealthy hedge fund  manager was also successful, but much more unwound than Joan.  Once their children were successful, the parents moved back to China, but their father passed away their, and mom returns in a chaotic time in America. 

I liked this book with its dry humor, and I think the author was trying to show how a Chinese American woman who works in a predominantly male dominated world and how she doesn't really know what to do when she's not working, say for bereavement time off and how she was when she wasn't working, what certain things made her feel comfortable, and it was mainly being at work.

I really don't know how to describe the book but when I read the excerpt on it, I did agree that its a great book for book clubs, because there are debates and discussions I can clearly see happening. To me  the ending felt a bit incomplete, but maybe it also felt that way intentionally because the author wanted it to be left like this?? Im not really sure. I will certainly recommend for a book club pick.
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Thank you to Net Galley for the ARC of this book. It was a very realistic portrayal of the life of a Chinese-American woman (Joan) in today's society, which I found interesting. However, I never really felt engaged with the book and had a hard time feeling connected to, or liking, any of the characters. Although it's a short book, it felt bogged down with long narratives and reflections of Joan's past. The summary tells you exactly what happens, and basically that's all that happens, which is to say - not much. I also didn't like the writing style. The lack of quotation marks for dialogue seems to be a new trend these days, which I find very annoying.  In this case the dialog is often described by the narrator rather than written traditionally.  

That all being said, the last quarter of the book was a very accurate and interesting depiction of the pandemic, starting from the beginning in Wuhan through the worst days of the pandemic in the United States. The author explores the fear and uncertainty we all felt in  early 2020, how Chinese people were blamed for COVID, the effect of the lockdown, and many other aspects of the pandemic.
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There is a lot going on with Joan. First, she has to deal with being an immigrant and immigrant daughter. Now, she was born in the US; however, she is the first generation and watched as her parents dealt with living in a country they didn't understand and Joan continues to face the assumptions placed upon Asian "model minority" immigrants. I liked how this was portrayed through her own interactions with her family, present and past, and those around her. The inclusion of Chinese words was a nice immersive touch. Second, Joan comes across as being very detached and unemotional. This is a struggle for her coworkers and others when she doesn't get their humor or pop culture references. As the beginning of the book was heavy on introducing Joan, it felt a bit flat. Third, the story moves in to the introduction of Covid. It was an interesting feeling reading it from Joan's perspective as a doctor and someone of Chinese ethnicity. It was also a bit stressful as she details the different stages as Covid entered the global scene and especially New York City, where she works in an ICU. The vignettes in the ICU and of Joan's life remind us how we frightening the virus is and how fragile we all were. By the end of the book, the reader comes to understand Joan. And she is a wonderful person just as she is!
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Joan is an ICU doctor born in America to Chinese immigrants.  She struggles with her identity daily.  She is portrayed as intelligent and hard working but has difficulty with all her relationships, from parents and brother to coworkers and neighbors.  She seems dropped into the hospital and unaware of every else.  Joan presented as flat to me which held me back from becoming a fully engaged reader.
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Wang has created another gem with her impeccable insights into her protagonist, Joan. Like her first novel, Chemistry, Wang weaves an entire story around a female character with a unique daughter-of-immigrants perspective. Joan is an intensivist at an NYC hospital, and her clinical view of the world is truly humorous at times. Her limited ability to understand interpersonal relationships leads the redoes down various winding paths.
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