Cover Image: Relative Strangers

Relative Strangers

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Member Reviews

Family drama, romance, and different seasons? This book has it all! It starts out slow, but it does get better. Give the book a fair chance and I’m sure you’ll love it if this is your genre. This was outside my usual reads, but I still enjoyed it.

Thank you netgalley for allowing me to read this book!

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I’m not sure if it lived up to my expectation of its Sense & Sensibility, but was sweet. Wished it took its chance to go deeper and take more risks.

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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC of "Relative Strangers" by A.H. Kim.

"Relative Strangers" by AH Kim dives into the ups and downs of the Cho family, living in New York's Korean community. It's a deep look at how family and culture clash, touching on secrets and the search for where we belong. Kim paints vivid characters and scenes, making you feel like you're right there with them, struggling and celebrating.

But for some, the book might drag a bit, especially when it gets into the characters' heads. Despite that, "Relative Strangers" sticks with you, making you think about your own family and roots long after you've finished it.

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Fun, light hearted, retellling of Jane Austen’s sense and sensibility with a modern twist. Sisterhood, romance and family secrets abound in this book. There are definitely a lot of characters to remember and keep track of, helps to have read and be familiar with Austens Sense and Sensability.

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This story centers around the Bae-Wood women and how loss and family secrets can bring the right people into your life in unexpected ways.

This is a modern spin on Sense and Sensibility and I feel it was done beautifully. There are a lot of spins in the story that I was not expecting.

The friendships that formed throughout the story were so heartwarming and ones that I will always remember.

One of the best books I’ve read this year, so far!

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I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, full of love, loss and hope. Amelia has been away from her family for years, enjoying success before a fall in circumstances. The relationship between Amelia and her sister is complicated, filled with love but also secrets they are keeping from each other. Eleanor is a young widow with a daughter, Maggie. As Amelia, Eleanor, their mother and Maggie spend time at a cancer retreat center as guests of the director, they begin a journey of truly learning about each other. The characters are likable and relatable, and the book well written. There are some surprises. I highly recommend this family story. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

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This had too much going on. The overly flowery language made me feel like I was reading a Jane Austen book, but the equal amount of pop culture and movie quotes kept my head spinning. I couldn’t get immersed in Amelia’s world. The number of extraneous love interests and then special circumstances with each one felt too complicated. I really would have liked the story more if it focused on the 4 women

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I really enjoyed this book. It was different than anything else I've read recently. I couldn't put it down! I will keep an eye out for this author's future work!

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While Sense and sensibility isn't my fave Austen story, this was still a fresh retelling featuring a two Korean American half-sisters and their hippie mother. Full of drama, secrets, multiple love stories and a diverse cast of characters. This was good on audio and a solid story sure to delight true Austenites! Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an early digital copy in exchange for my honest review!

Steam level: kissing only

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I enjoyed this story of Amelia and her family - sister Eleanor and mother. Amelia was quite the interesting character - shaved head, hitchhiking, unreliable, free spirit. You have Eleanor, the more responsible sibling and their mother who was evicted from their family home and being challenged by the late husband's illegitimate son. Major family drama for you. A story filled with love, loss, sibling relationships, secrets, healing, and mother / daughter relationships, I loved all the pastries - I must say I kept getting hungry!

Thank you to Net Galley and Harlequin Trade Publishing for this EARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

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As someone who hasn't read 'Sense and Sensibility' by Jane Austen, I really enjoyed this! I like the writing style and the pacing. The characters were enjoyable. This is a lighthearted,entertaining story that is well written. I would recommend this! Special Thank You to A.H. Kim, Harlequin Publishing and NetGalley for allowing me to read a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

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This is a great Sense and Sensibility retelling in coastal northern California, with complex sister and family relationships and just as complex romantic ones. It felt on the longer side at times, but it covers a lot of ground on both the past and present of the characters and developing their relationships.

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This is the best Sense and Sensibility retelling I saw!! Amelia has her life fall apart, broke, unemployed, she hitchhikes to her family estate to find that her recently widowed mother has been evicted. Eleanor is the responsible sister taking care of everyone and everything. She is a nurse who works 13 hour shifts, has a daughter applying for college, takes care of grieving mother, messed up sister. They all land up in a retreat for cancer patients.

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Financial misfortune following the head of household’s passing leads three generations of Bae-Wood women to
make their home at a cancer retreat center in the middle of nowhere California. While there, they must determine exactly how deep their familial loyalty lies and navigate the ensemble of eligible bachelors who can save their family from financial ruin.

I really loved this book! It was heartfelt, complex and humorous and overall I just felt really good while reading this! Amelia was a fantastic narrator and I enjoyed following along her POV. Tackling an Austen story is difficult water to tread but this story did so beautifully by honoring some similar parallels but holding tightly onto its own unique story as well. I don’t think it’s entirely necessary to read Sense & Sensibility as a pre-requisite to Relative Strangers but if you have read it, you’ll definitely appreciate the references. I would have wished for more exploration into the relationship with the half brother but think the epilogue tied everything up really nicely if a little brief.

What to expect:
Biracial representation (Korean dad; white mom)
Sense & sensibility retelling
Sisterhood
Family secrets
Love triangle (square?)
Movie buff references
Pastry enthusiast rep ;)

thanks so much to Harlequin Trade, Graydon House and Netgalley for the free advanced copy of Relative Strangers!

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As this novel is a loose retelling of Sense and Sensibility, there is a lot going on - Amelia is at a point in her life where she is lost, newly single, homeless, jobless and hitchhiking to Arcadia, a cancer retreat where her mother and widowed sister Eleanor are staying. Her mother is temporarily residing there because she has been evicted from her estate by her late husband’s estranged son from a relationship the family did not even know about. While the women (along with Eleanor’s teenage daughter) live at Arcadia there are handsome men (including one cute chef), family drama and many misunderstandings. The novel itself deals with themes of grief, race, class and family.

I honestly don’t remember Sense and Sensibility as much as other Austen books but I really enjoyed this novel. As with most Austen retellings, the characters remained a bit superficial, but the mother/daughter/sister dynamics kept me engaged and of course wanting the romantic happy endings made me kept me reading to the end. The plot wasn’t too religiously stuck to the original and I thought the author made some very clever choices.

Thank you to NetGalley and Graydon House for the ARC to review

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Thanks to #partner @netgalley and @graydonhousebooks for the ARC of A. H. Kim’s Relative Strangers. The book is out today!

A. H. Kim’s Relative Strangers is a modern retelling of Sense and Sensibility with some big—fun—twists. The focus in this version is on the Marianne character, Amelia Bae-Wood. She’s the unreliable sister, the one who hasn’t seen her family in ages and has to hitchhike back to her childhood home, just as her mother is being evicted from it. The villain? Their father’s illegitimate son, Chong Bae, who is vying to claim his inheritance in an effort that has embroiled them in a lengthy, painful court case.

Amelia arrives only to find that her sister, Eleanor, has already moved their mother to a small home at the cancer center where she volunteers. Amelia is still working through her own—secret—trauma and now has to face the resentment of her sister, who is convinced that Amelia’s lack of responsibility is a sign of her selfishness and her inability to be a stable part of her family.

The conflicts here abound. First, there’s the class conflict that is part of Austen’s original novel, fueled by one of Amelia’s past relationships, which put her in the media spotlight, and by a potential love match with a new wealthy suitor. Issues in response to Amelia and Eleanor’s heritage also arise: the sisters are half-Korean (their mother is a white Southern belle, and their father immigrated from Seoul).

Much of the novel is about recovering from loss: there’s the death of Amelia’s father, which—along with the loss of her home—has left their mother desolate. They’re also still dealing with the shadow of the death of Eleanor’s first husband, a loss that continues to haunt Eleanor and her daughter Maggie.

Of course, there’s plenty of romance, though the center of the novel, for me, is the sibling relationship between Amelia and Eleanor, whose approaches to the world vary greatly. Eleanor feels as if she has to keep a firm grasp on everything, fearful that a loss of control will result in chaos. Amelia, in contrast, has to bring herself back from a tendency to embrace the very chaos that her sister so fears. Despite their tensions, there’s a lovely connection between them, along with some fun touches (they often communicate in movie quotes that are perfect for any situation). And watching Amelia strive to figure out who she wants to be and how she wants to share her story and her hidden struggles is a satisfying journey.

I loved seeing both the ways that Kim chose to pay tribute to her source material and the places she chose to break away, to put a new spin on the classic tale. Relative Strangers is the best kind of retelling, one that relies on the strong center of the original but shows the ways that its tale is still all too relevant.

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Yet another book where the description grabbed me, but the writing and plot didn’t keep me.
Amelia is a lost soul. In her late thirties she is still drifting aimlessly when she receives a note that brings her home to her widowed mother, her widowed sister, and her niece. Due to an unforeseen circumstance, her mother has lost her house and Amelia learns they are now living in a cottage on the grounds of Arcadia, a retreat center for cancer patients. Amelia joins them and hopes in volunteering at Arcadia she’s able to finally get her life together.
I have to admit I ended up DNFing this book. I found the writing to be so lackluster that it just wasn’t holding my attention. This is a retelling of Sense and Sensibility and perhaps it’s because I am not a fan of Jane Austen but I didn’t find this book to be the least bit interesting. I found Amelia to be extremely annoying and honestly at 33% in I didn’t really get to know any of the other characters.
Please do not base your feelings about reading this on my review. Just because I wasn’t a fan doesn’t mean you won’t be! Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin Trade Publishing for an advanced copy of this. Relative Strangers hits the shelves on April 2nd.

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This book moved very fast and it was kind of hard to keep up with the characters, but overall it was a pretty satisfying read! I probably won't read it again, but I don't feel like I wasted my time reading it, so that's good!

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Don't worry if you haven't read or don't remember all the details of Sense and Sensibility- this makes a fine read on its own. Sisters Amelia and Eleanor are very different in outlook and personality but they are united behind their mother Tabitha, whose life has recently been turned upside down. The appearance of a half brother sets up a real tangle. While this has nice diversions into the lives of the residents of Arcadia and elsewhere, it all comes back to the sisters. Thanks to the publisher for the ARC. A good read.

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She has nowhere to go but home….

….but then she discovers that her family home no longer belongs to her family. In this modern-day twist on Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility, Amelia Bae-Wood finds herself without any money and with an arrest record. She hitchhikes her way to her family’s home in California, partly in response to her older sister Eleanor’s plea to return for the sake of their widowed mother, and arrives to find only a note on the gate. It seems that their recently deceased father had a son outside of wedlock who, as the eldest child, is claiming that he is the rightful heir to the estate and the courts have agreed. Eleanor has taken their mother to a place called Arcadia, where her friend Leo runs a cancer retreat center and has offered them the use of a cottage on the grounds. Amelia joins them there, as does Eleanor’s teenage daughter Maggie, making for a tight fit in the small living space. Each of the Bae-Wood women are at a juncture in their lives that requires some soul-searching and focus; mistakes will be made and tears shed before they can move ahead.
As in the original Austen novel, in Relative Strangers we have the sensible sister Eleanor who works hard, puts the welfare of others before her own, and is the one keeping the family afloat. We also have the artistic, sensitive sister Amelia who lets her emotions dictate her decisions, which generally doesn’t end well for her. There are several men circulating in their vicinity….the handsome and seemingly kind Jett who has some complications from the past mucking up his present; Leo, the warm and generous friend; Leo’s friend Brandon, the somewhat stuffy but also kind and helpful gentleman; and Hari, the charming and good looking heartbreaker. It is hard as the reader not to imagine which individuals would make the best match, and the characters themselves wonder along those same lines. But there are secrets in everyone’s past, and those who seem well-suited on the surface may in fact not be. Do the characters have the same destinies as the Austen characters with which they align? You won’t hear that from me, you’ll have to read the novel to discover the answer to that question. Along the way, you will enjoy getting to know the different characters with all of their talents and quirks, salivate at the descriptions of the food coming out of Jett’s kitchen, and discover the natural surroundings along the Northern Californian coast where the various dramas unfold. A lighthearted, romantic story that explores the bonds of family, sisterhood, and surviving losses, Relative Strangers is a fun read that will appeal to readers of Julia Sonneborn and Curtis Sittenfeld as well as to those who enjoyed watching Amy Heckerling’s “Clueless”. Many thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Trade Publishing/Graydon House for allowing me access to an early copy of the novel.

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