Cover Image: Joan Is Okay

Joan Is Okay

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This novel is written in a sparse, quiet way but is powerful in its depiction of an introverted first-generation Chinese woman’s struggle to define herself in an American culture that is so directly opposite that of her parents. At times funny but always informative, Joan is an emergency room doctor trying to understand interpersonal relationships with her co-workers, her apartment neighbors, and her own family. Her explanation of Chinese characters is fascinating.

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for the ARC to read and review.
Was this review helpful?
This book bothered me in the same way Normal People did - I got to the end and found myself asking “So what?” I enjoyed reading about the complicated family dynamics in Joan’s family, but found the wrapping up of the story with the beginning of the COVID pandemic. It’s unsettling and almost irrelevant to the larger arc of the story. Perhaps it was meant to add drama to the needing of Joan’s story, but I just found it to be personally unsettling.
Was this review helpful?
Joan is a quirky ICU doctor who tells her story in Joan Is Okay. This novel reads like a memoir when actually its fiction. Joan's shares how she's managing her father's death, her brothers wealth, her apartment tenants and job all during the onset of the pandemic.  She lives a matter-of-fact lifestyle and is hard pressed to be empathetic. 

Born to parents who immigrated from China, her life is ruled by cultural expectations and soon she finds herself stuck between two clashing cultures.  Simply put, Joan is struggling to fit into either and wants to be her own women. 

This novel is an original read with incredibly thought provoking themes - family, sexism, racism, mental health and social acceptance.  Thank you Random House Publishing Group - Random House. #JoanIsOkay #NetGalley.

Literary Fiction | Multicultural Interest | Women's Fiction
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed tis book. It's quiet and meaningful, and the narrative is just the main character, describing everything, which was different, but really worked well. I really liked the main character (who works in an ICU in NYC) and her family, and was very invested in her story especially as we kept moving towards March 2020. 

That said, the bulk of the bulk takes place before that and is vey quirky and delightful. It's a super unique book and I'm really glad I read it. Thanks, NetGalley for the ARC!
Was this review helpful?
JOAN IS OKAY is a warm visit with a neuro-divergent, first generation daughter of Chinese immigrants, living her best life in troubling times.  Born in the USA, only learning she has a brother when he arrives years later from China, Joan accepts that her life is not the same as her school peers.  But rather than get bogged down about the reasons why, she moves forward with purpose.  When she leaves for college, her parents return to China, essentially leaving her on her own.    Author Weike Wang gifts readers with a protagonist that is unique and charming in her own way.  The tale explores her life before and during the Pandemic, a time when American hysteria over the Chinese reached new heights.  This is a very good book.  I received my copy from the publisher through NetGalley.
Was this review helpful?
The novel follows the life of Joan. A thirty-something ICU doctor living in NYC. The plot begins shortly before and during the coronavirus pandemic.  Joan’s father passes away and her mother visits her brother and her in America. 

I thought the novel had too many subplots that weren’t woven into a seamless story. At one point I thought this would be about a hardworking woman’s journey living in NYC from the perspective of an Asian woman and how she deals with the pressure of her job and societal pressure to get married. 

That’s definitely one plot point. Others include: workplace harassment, the coronavirus pandemic, neighbor that could have been a friend or more, her repressed grief over her father’s death and generally over her upbringing. 

While all of those themes could have been explored in one book, the format in which this book is written (stream of consciousness- think of an informal diary) and the length of the book (less than 230 pages) hampered those prospects. 

Unfortunately, I have to say I don’t recommend this one. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC.
Was this review helpful?
I don’t know how to talk about this book and do it justice properly other than to say that once I started it, I couldn’t put it down, and I stayed up nearly all-night to finish it. 

Joan is a 36-year old intensive care doctor and daughter of Chinese immigrants, living in New York City. The book begins on the day of Joan’s dad’s death in China, where he and her mother returned to once Joan and her brother were in college. From here, we meet Joan, a self-described “workaholic” whose love of machines is touching, (I won’t spoil a tender moment she has with an ECMO machine) but whose understanding of other people isn’t always as clear. And no one understands her, or her choices, either - she is childless and unpartnered, committed to her job.

Throughout the book, which takes place from mid-2019 to mid-2020, Joan reflects on her own feeling of being ‘Other’ as an American-born child of Chinese immigrants. She considers how the values she inherited from her parents differ from the Western, individualistic mindset, and how those around her try to make her “more Western” for their own comfort. Am I still an immigrant, she wonders, if my parents returned home? And still in America, who am I, and where is my home? 

Halfway through the book, the COVID-19 virus has started to appear in China, and Joan must also endure news stories of anti-Asian American hate crimes while also working in healthcare. This book was a subversive, challenging, eye-opening, beautiful exploration of grief and identity. 2022 should be the year of Weike Wang. 

Joan Is Okay is out on January 17. Thank you NetGalley  and Random House for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

@Raq.Reads, January 9, 2022.
Was this review helpful?
I read this one in just a few sittings. Joan is an incredibly unique character, and I wish the novel had been longer so I could have spent more time with her. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the free e-copy.
Was this review helpful?
Joan is definitely not okay. And neither was I by the end of this book.

At first I wasn't sure I would like 'Joan is Okay' because of the stilted structure of the writing, but I think the way this book reads like Joan is talking to you, the reader, means 'Joan is Okay' would come across much more enjoyably as an audiobook.

By the end, I was completely invested in Joan's journey, in her relationships with her family, neighbour, coworkers— even with her doorman. While domestic fiction isn't my usual preference, and I have my qualms with the style and structure of the writing itself, Wang has crafted a beautifully moving piece of character reflection and a captivating, eye-opening peek into Chinese family dynamics and how they affect a person's relationship with present-day America.

Thank you so much to Netgalley and Random House for a digital copy in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I really liked this book. I can’t quite describe why, but I really liked it.  Joan is born in America to Chinese immigrants who return to their homeland when she attends Harvard. She is an introvert;  reclusive, content in her single, childless life, and dedicated to her job as an attending physician in New York City.  The book, among other areas, delves into the  life of immigrants, racism exhibited toward Asian Americans, mourning for lost parents, and the emergence of the Covid pandemic.  It is amusing, poignant, profound, and, unfortunately, a very fast read.
Was this review helpful?
While I was intrigued with the title, cover, and description, I was unable to engage with Joan and kept reading hoping that there would be a "gotcha" moment.
Was this review helpful?
Unfortunately, some books and I end up not getting along. This was a long and hard read for me. The synopsis sounded promising but once I got into the story, there was a lot of telling and internal monologues with Joan. I enjoyed them at first but after a while, it was getting harder for me to stay in the story. 

I loved the idea of learning more about a character but Joan and I didn't click.
Was this review helpful?
A slow paced book about Joan-na who is a first generation American devoted to her life as an attending in the ICU at an NYC hospital. Her brother, Fang, is a successful businessman living an opulent life with his family in Greenwich, CT. When Joan’s father dies, her mother comes to visit Greenwich.  The family is not really connected and it reflects in the disconnected book.  Joan is Okay by Weike Wang is a very unique read. Joan’s character has to endure opinions from everyone else about how she should be living her life, but she just goes along, doing her own thing. She’s a brilliant mind, but a bit socially awkward. The first half of the book I never felt a connection with Joan. The novel struggles to push forward, reading more like a memoir, and I struggled to stay interested, but I was committed to seeing it through, sincerely hoping that it would pick up at some point. 

The book was written in the first person and deals mostly with what is going on in Joan's head. Her analysis of everything from her point of view. Her literal interpretation of everything that is said. How she deals with relationships. An interesting book.  Reflections of Chinese culture is shown a little but not expanded upon.

Thanks to Random House Publishing Group through Netgalley for an advance copy. This book will be published on January 18, 2022.
Was this review helpful?
4.5 stars

I am extremely grateful to Random House for sending me an advanced copy of this book for review.

I'm happy to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this read. This novel packed so much emotion between these pages. We have a main character (Joan) who offers a very layered perspective being a Chinese-American woman and a doctor, who may be neuro-divergent (suggested indirectly). This story is also a slice-of-life set in the time 2019 - present during the pandemic; definitely an experience we are all familiar with.

The cast of this story is a diverse mix of people from Joan's life, from family members, to neighbors, and coworkers. We get to hear Joan's innermost thoughts and see how she manages her emotions, and how she interacts with the personalities that surround her, and how she deals with the expectations heaped onto her shoulders. This is a millennial novel. Joan is a professional woman who has overcome obstacles in her past to gain her position within her profession and now feels satisfied with her life. However, following the death of her father, others continuously try to force Joan to behave in a "normal" way, and become the type of woman that society expects her to be.

This book explores themes of loss and grief, belonging, familial relationships, and the idea of "the American dream". While many important events from the history of the Chinese community in the US are mentioned, and the story takes place during the pandemic, Joan's story never gets lost in the . narrative. Her opinions are interesting, her voice is distinct, and her character is authentic and relatable.

This is not a plot based story but rather, a character study. I would recommend this to fans of introspective cultural stories.
Was this review helpful?
Joan is the doctor-daughter of Chinese ex-immigrants (that is, immigrants who have since repatriated) who works as an ICU physician in NYC and lives a very particular life that she quite enjoys. When her father unexpectedly dies, her mother's visit to the US gets extended due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and multiple forces in her life (her brother, her boss, and her new next-door neighbor) attempt to change Joan's ways 'for her own good,' things get complicated and confusing, particularly for Joan, who hadn't been aware that she needed to be 'fixed.' Wang's novel is as quiet and charming as Joan herself, and I loved its thoughtful take on a neurodivergent workaholic woman. The added stakes of sinophobia and an out of control pandemic helped to drive the novel forward (even if it's difficult, in the early days of 2022, to read about people living in early 2020!). I was particularly compelled by Wang's subtle depiction of grief -- I've not read many books about neurodivergence & grief, and Joan's complicated love for her father tugged at my heartstrings. A very worthwhile read!
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC. I enjoyed this overall. It reads like a diary and gives the reader a deep, emotionally connected look at the life of main character Joan. Joan is a accomplished and career-driven doctor in NYC who faces an abundance of challenges that the reader glimpses over the book. The book ends during the COVID-19 pandemic, which drives strong reflections from Joan in regards to purpose and direction in life.
Was this review helpful?
I really, really enjoyed Joan is Okay. Joan is a Chinese doctor living in Manhattan grappling with the death of her father, a challenging relationship with her mother and sibling, and an inability to create and sustain lasting friendships despite the efforts of those around her. She is a difficult protagonist, but one who also captured my heart. I laughed out loud multiple times as Jane interacted with her aggressively social neighbor, and her two closest colleagues at the hospital. This novel begins at the close of 2019 and shows the reader how COVID 19 began, and began its march of deadly destruction across the globe. Jane’s mother is basically stranded in CT with her brother as she is unable to travel home to China from February 2020 on, and Jane witnesses the beginning of the pandemic first hand as a physician, as well as withessing terrible racism as a Chinese woman living in the United States. Knowing what we do now, and continuing to live in the throes of this pandemic, the pieces of this novel dealing with COVID were painful to read. I think this is a wonderful, thoughtful, and well paced read, and I hope it gets the attention it deserves. If you loved Eleanor Oliphant or The Rosie Project, you will love Jane.
Was this review helpful?
I received an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review 

I love Joan. We need more Joan’s. It was great to hang out in her head for 224 pages.
Was this review helpful?
I wasn't really sure what to expect with this book when I started reading it, but I ended up liking it! Joan is a very blunt, unique kind of person and I liked that the writing style of the book reflected that. I liked the commentary on being an immigrant, specifically a Chinese-American immigrant, and how that shapes your identity growing up. I am an Indian-American immigrant and felt that a lot of it was relatable, and I always find reading all the unique immigrant stories extremely interesting and thought provoking. In a short novel, Wang covers a lot and I think it is done really well. It was interesting to see how the emergence of COVID was written about towards the end of the book and how Joan's life completely changes again, just like it did in the beginning of the novel when she learns of her father's passing. The book was a quick read with a quirky main character and I would definitely recommend it!

The book comes out on January 18th so definitely grab a copy when it does!
Was this review helpful?
Joan was delightful in her quirks and perceptions of others. She is a workaholic Asian American doctor in NYC with no real friends and a very strained relationship with her family members. Throughout the story we watch her try to converse with her colleagues, her boss, her brother, neighbor and mother, always with frustration and misunderstanding. I loved her as a character study, and thinking about how we perceive people who may not fit cultural norms or show differences in anyway.

COVID-19 enters the scene towards the end of the book, and I felt that the direction and messages became a bit muddled. There is discussion around the Asian American hate and blame due to the virus but it isn’t actually part of Joan’s experience. I wanted more from this conflict in Joan’s life, specifically on how it affected Joan.

Overall  I was very engaged in this story and a would recommend it to readers who adore quirky characters.
Was this review helpful?