Member Reviews

"Linh Ly is Doing Just Fine" is a melancholy page-turner. Fast-paced. Readers quickly meet Linh Ly. She is 27, single, living with her cat in a an apartment in the metroplex of Texas. After the divorce of her mother and father, Linh quickly becomes wrapped-up in her mother's dating life-- to the point of following her on dates. Linh traverses life and its meaning in Texas while dealing with the trauma of her estranged father.


While this book was a page-tuner in drama, I thought this story lacked direction. I didn't believe Linh's motives throughout the story and I thought the ending was tied together because it was an "ending"; something had to happen. Unfortunately this is a title I would not recommend but I would dog-ear in my list of 'melancholy female reads'.

Thank you NetGalley, the author Thao Votang, and published Alcove Press for providing this ARC to readers.

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This book is very average"Linh Ly is Doing Just Fine" is a novel that aims to delve deep into character-driven storytelling but unfortunately falls short in several crucial areas. The book centers around Linh Ly, a character whose life and experiences are meant to be the focal point of the narrative. While the intention to build a story around a nuanced and relatable protagonist is commendable, Linh Ly's character lacks the depth and complexity needed to truly engage readers. Her mundane and unremarkable personality makes it challenging to invest emotionally in her journey, and this ultimately detracts from the overall reading experience.
One of the primary issues with "Linh Ly is Doing Just Fine" is its lack of a compelling plot. Without a strong narrative to propel the story forward, the book relies heavily on its characters to maintain the reader's interest. However, with Linh Ly herself being rather bland, this reliance becomes a significant drawback. The absence of intriguing subplots or dramatic twists makes the story feel stagnant and uninviting. Readers may find themselves struggling to pick up the book again after setting it down, as there is little to entice them back into Linh Ly's world.
Despite these shortcomings, the novel does offer moments of introspection and quiet reflection that some readers might appreciate. The writing style is straightforward and accessible, making it an easy read for those who enjoy character studies. However, for those seeking a more dynamic and plot-driven narrative, "Linh Ly is Doing Just Fine" may leave much to be desired. Overall, while the book has its merits, it ultimately fails to capture and hold the reader's attention, making it an average read at best.

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** spoiler alert ** I truly do not know how to review this book. The whole story made me so very sad. Linh Ly is not doing fine at all. To be Vietnamese in Texas seems to be very difficult. She is surrounded by incredibly rich people, so rich it was difficult for me to understand.
Her parents are divorced, and her mother has started to date, and she is so worried that she follows her mother in secret when she goes out on dates. Her father is an alcoholic mess, and America did not live up to his dreams.
In a very baffling part, a high school crush tries to have a relationship with her, and she is ambivalent.
I am not sure the ending is supposed to give us hope or not.
The whole racist part was difficult for me as I am white with a Korean daughter, who I know has sometimes had racist things happen to her, so I think I was particularly susceptible to the sadness. I could identify with Linh's uncomfortable situations when she was with a group of only white people, as I know my daughter has that same reaction.
So, for me, the book was just heartbreaking. Maybe that isn't a bad thing for readers trying to understand Linh's life.
This is a very well written debut novel and I look forward to Votang's next book.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the EARC. This review is my honest opinion.

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Though this book is short, it is packed with such a fascinating story about Linh, and I think you could argue this is a coming of age story for her. I really appreciated how authentically her feelings and decisions are illustrated. I would read from this author again.

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Linh Ly is a bit of a loser. Or is she a bit of a loner? Or a bit of both?

She doesn't trust the men her mum chooses to go out with. She doesn't trust the guy who is interested in spending time with her. She doesn't trust her colleagues. And she probably doesn't trust herself.

And yet, we follow along with her as she makes bad choices - many, many bad choices. And we really root for her to change her ways. Because stalking, and disguises and perhaps missing out on a chance at love are just sad ways to live.

An easy, voyeuristic read with a little bit of redemption.

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Thank you NetGalley and publisher for this ARC.

I really wanted to like this book! Especially because I love the cover but I DNFed it. I might try reading it again another time.

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Another great cover, but that was the extent of my enjoyment I am afraid. There was none of the humour I was expecting and Linh is a little bit annoying.
I am sorry to say I did not finish the book and gave up about 25% in.

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Told with deadpan humour and brutal honesty, "Linh Ly is Doing Just Fine" by Thao Votang is a remarkable debut novel, captivating exploration of identity and trauma. It follows the unraveling journey of a Vietnamese-American and Votang masterfully weaves together past and present, inviting readers into the complex world of trauma, family dynamics, and self-discovery.

When 27-year-old Linh Ly's recently-divorced mother begins dating a coworker, Linh becomes determined to ensure he is worthy of her mother's love. Having witnessed her mother's struggles with unreliable and volatile men, Linh is fiercely protective. She knows her mother can't navigate this new relationship alone, especially after growing up with an alcoholic father while her mother worked tirelessly to make ends meet.

Linh's life lacks direction, and she finds solace in following her mother and spying on her dates. The university shooting at Linh's workplace leaves her feeling adrift, but her mom's dating escapades give her something to focus on. As Linh peels back the layers of her mother's life, she confronts her own guarded upbringing as a Vietnamese-American in Texas… a legacy she never quite escaped.

Linh's Vietnamese heritage and her upbringing in Texas shape her worldview. Votang delves into the complexities of cultural identity, portraying Linh's guarded existence with sensitivity. The novel explores how trauma echoes across generations. Linh grapples with her past, her father's alcoholism, and the impact it has on her relationships. Her journey toward healing is both poignant and relatable.

Linh's relationship with her mother is at the heart of the story. The novel beautifully captures the love, tension, and sacrifices that define their bond. Votang's prose is sharp, witty, and unapologetically honest. The deadpan humor adds depth to the narrative, making Linh's struggles all the more authentic. The pacing keeps readers engaged, and the vivid descriptions transport us to Texas, where Linh's memories and present collide.

"Linh Ly is Doing Just Fine" is a compelling exploration of resilience, vulnerability, and the messy beauty of family ties. Votang's debut is a triumph. This is a novel that lingers long after the last page. Prepare to laugh, cry, and reflect on your own journey as you follow Linh Ly's unraveling.

Thank you to NetGalley and Alcove Press for a temporary e-ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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I liked the first few chapters of this, but after that it fell very flat for me. Not much really happens and the character is whiny and needy. I'd prefer to see more character development. This seems to try too hard to be an Asian version of Eleanor Oliphant and just doesn't quite make it. I did like the snappy quick writing style and think the author has potential....

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A quick and easy read, Linh Ly Is Doing Just Fine follows Linh who is definitely not fine.

I found the character of Linh to be a bit difficult to connect with, and although the ending ended with a positive note I didn't get much character development from Linh.

I think many areas of the story could have been developed more. The relationship aspect almost felt like a filler, especially because we did not get a lot of context nor much growth. I felt that the Christmas scene with her mother and her mothers 'boyfriend' could have been expanded and really helped us see into Linhs character and her feelings of isolation and difference.

The constant use of 'metroplex' was also a bit distracting throughout the novel, as it was repeated over and over.

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This book is a quick read with short chapters. Overall a good story, but I felt confused in some places. I also wished the characters had been explored a little bit more.

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Linh Ly is Doing Just Fine" by Thao Votang is a delightful and heartwarming novel that resonates with authenticity and charm. Votang's storytelling prowess shines as she navigates the complexities of life through the lens of her endearing protagonist, Linh Ly. With empathy and humor, Votang paints a vivid portrait of resilience, friendship, and self-discovery. The characters leap off the page with their relatable quirks and genuine emotions, making it easy for readers to become fully immersed in their lives. From its captivating storyline to its poignant moments of reflection, "Linh Ly is Doing Just Fine" is a captivating journey that leaves a lasting impression. Votang's debut novel is a true gem that celebrates the beauty of human connection and the strength found in embracing life's challenges.

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I found it really hard to get myself invested in the story and I found myself skipping through pages to get to the parts of the story that half interested me. I think it will find its audience with some readers but trying to hard to be the next Yellowface.

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Linh's parents have recently divorced, and her mother is dating again. As her father is an (verbally) abusive alcoholic, Linh is quite protective of her mother, and follows her and her dates around to make sure she is safe at the end of the date. Her own life is uneventful; she plays tennis, she works at the university and she is quite secluded. But then things happen that shake up her world...

An easy and quick read, the writing style is fast-paced, dry-humoured and the chapters are short. I flew through this and enjoyed the experience. Linh's overly worried character as a result of a trauma-filled childhood - her own and her mother's - and the stalker-y behavior to keep her mother safe, were funny and endearing.

I see where the author wanted to go with Linh, but it didn't really work for me. Anxious, introverted and a bit obsessed, Linh seems to be the quarterly-life crisis girlie that I am too (we are the same age), but it felt like Linh didn't have enough depth too really feel like a human. A humanoid maybe. I also felt like she hinted at Linh being on the spectrum.

I would have loved loved LOVED the book if the storylines with all the characters had been explored more. The interactions with Chandler were interesting, but for reasons I don't understand we only see them sleep together a few times, then Linh completely ignores him and Chandler is still very interested in her for some reason? I thought he could have been the steamy, a bit more frequent distraction for Linh, but unfortunately we only get glimpses of him.

And I also feel that way about some major events in the book; the school shooting, the car accident, the Christmas party and New Years Day wedding all felt like they were ideas that weren't fully thought out or explored by the author. I would have liked the book more, had it been 100-150 longer.

All in all, I would definitely recommend it to anyone who loved I'm Sorry You Feel That Way and The Existence of Amy, or who just wants a quick, light read!

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Linh is a hardcore introvert who enjoys her routines and alone time. On the outside, she seems fairly well-adjusted, but there are many things she still struggles with, such as letting her mother date without worrying about her safety and the trauma from her abusive father. Her go-to method for dealing with situations is lurking and spying, going to great lengths to disguise herself. She has issues with her self-esteem and often questions when other people seem interested in spending time with her by purposely distancing herself even when people make their interest known. She often suspects she is only wanted because she adds diversity to the group.

Linh is a fascinating character and relatable to me in certain ways. But she does make numerous questionable decisions such as voluntarily getting into a fender bender throughout the book that didn't really seem to make sense. This is certainly a character-driven book, and there was a long stretch where the pacing was quite slow, and I could not ascertain where the author was trying to take us in the narrative. I really would have appreciated a different perspective, maybe from Linh's mother or father, detailing the story of their marriage, their lives in Vietnam, and what led them to this point.

I was intrigued in the beginning, but the excessive negative self-talk and self-sabotaging behavior, prosaic characters, and weak dialogue did not keep my interest and I had to force myself to finish the book. The resolution was also extremely abrupt and implausible and tacked onto the story in the last chapter.

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Linh Ly is a character that is hard to figure out. She seems to coast through life in Texas working and playing tennis and sometimes meeting up with her one close friend. She doesn't seem particularly passionate about anything, except in the aftermath of her parents' divorce, she grows obsessive about her mother's dating life. She grew up with a mean dad with a drinking problem, and she is protective of her mother now that she can live her life on her own terms. As Linh tails her mother on dates, there are glimpses of the experience and traumas that may be playing into her behavior. At one point, a rich and handsome guy she went to high school with reappears in her life, and the story seems to suggest it might take a turn towards romance, but it doesn't really. In fact, I am still unclear as to what the purpose of this was. The various threads remained disconnected or only subtly connected so that I was left feeling like the story was incomplete.

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La mère de Linh a rendez-vous avec un collègue. Elle qui s’est mariée jeune, qui a quitté le Vietnam pour les États-Unis, vient de divorcer du monstre qui lui sert de mari et décide de fréquenter (comme on disait dans le Nord). Linh est persuadée que sa mère ne peut pas se débrouiller seule, qu’elle risque de tomber sur des types louches. Elle va donc surveiller sa mère, la suivre partout, et faire des recherches sur les hommes (et leur famille) avec qui elle sort. Cela tourne vite à l’obsession et Linh consacre tout son temps à ses enquêtes. Elle a beaucoup de temps à elle : son seul loisir, c’est le tennis auquel elle joue avec des filles de familles riches. Elle travaille de chez elle pour l’université, elle est pratiquement asociale : elle a une amie proche et sort de temps en temps avec les filles du tennis. Et elle retrouve le garçon pour qui elle craquait quand elle était au lycée : le garçon riche dont toutes les filles de la ville étaient/sont amoureuses, celui qui était dans l’équipe de tennis du lycée et ne lui avait adressé que deux mots en tout et pour tout à l'époque.

Dans l’ensemble, j’ai beaucoup aimé ce roman. J’ai eu un peu peur qu’il s’agisse d’une romance urbaine, mais heureusement, ce n’est pas du tout le type de l’héroïne. Quand un personnage la compare à Daria, j’ai trouvé l’analogie très juste (l’esprit de compétition en plus). Personne ne trouve grâce à ses yeux et tout y passe : ses collègues, ses « copines » de tennis, les filles riches qui tournent autour de Chandler (le garçon riche), le racisme (j’ai lu ce livre après White Women de Regina Jackson et Saira Rao, et ça faisait un peu froid dans le dos). Au début, j’ai trouvé un peu ridicule et énervant le fait qu’elle suive sa mère. Et puis, j’ai trouvé de nombreuses situations très drôles et l’héroïne, impayable. Bon, j’aurais pu me passer du terme metroplex (qui désigne la conurbation Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington) qui est répété un peu trop souvent dans le roman (j’en avais même oublié où se déroulait l’action). Des fois, un rien vous agace. Certains délires de Linh sont un peu exagérés : son attitude vis-à-vis de Chandler est un peu limite (mais peut-être est-il trop parfait). Mais l’ensemble se tient. Et la couverture, c’est tout à fait ça.

Oui, je recommande.

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I loved the premise and was excited to read the book. I found parts of it to be a bit confusing, especially towards the end. The pacing was a bit slow at times and felt like the book could have used a bit more editing. Overall, I enjoyed the story and writing.

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I quite liked this book, but I can't say exactly why. The main character Linh has a lot of problems and spends her time stalking her mum when she on dates to ensure she is safe.

As a character she isn't particularly likeable, but it's because she needs to sort out her head regarding her confidence, trust issues and problems with her dad.

it's really a growth book, as we are looking at how her character develops throughout the duration of the story - other than that there isn't much plot.

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3.5 stars. I really enjoyed this book while reading it, but didn't think about it much when I wasn't in the story. I found her obsessing over the man her mother was dating to be a bit off mark for me and I was yelling at her during this time like what are you doing Linh, but then again I understand she's trying to protect her mother in a predominately white area. It just got to the obsessive point. She is absolutely not doing fine in life and I enjoyed while reading and would recommend to others. There are some trigger warnings when going into this book though especially with school shootings and alcoholism.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC of this book, feedback is entirely my own opinion.

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