River East, River West
by Aube Rey Lescure
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Pub Date 09 Jan 2024 | Archive Date 05 Mar 2024
Set against the backdrop of developing modern China, this mesmerizing literary debut is part coming-of-age tale, part family and social drama, as it follows two generations searching for belonging and opportunity in a rapidly changing world—perfect for readers of Behold the Dreamers, White Ivy, and The Leavers.
Shanghai, 2007: Fourteen-year-old Alva has always longed for more. Raised by her American expat mother, she’s never known her Chinese father, and is certain a better life awaits them in America. But when her mother announces her engagement to their wealthy Chinese landlord, Lu Fang, Alva’s hopes are dashed, and so she plots for the next best thing: the American School in Shanghai. Upon admission, though, Alva is surprised to discover an institution run by an exclusive community of expats and the ever-wilder thrills of a city where foreigners can ostensibly act as they please.
1985: In the seaside city of Qingdao, Lu Fang is a young, married man and a lowly clerk in a shipping yard. Though he once dreamed of a bright future, he is one of many casualties in his country’s harsh political reforms. So when China opens its doors to the first wave of foreigners in decades, Lu Fang’s world is split wide open after he meets an American woman who makes him confront difficult questions about his current status in life, and how much will ever be enough.
In a stunning reversal of the east-to-west immigrant narrative and set against China’s political history and economic rise, River East, River West is an intimate family drama and a sharp social novel. Alternating between Alva and Lu Fang’s points of view, this is a profoundly moving exploration of race and class, cultural identity and belonging, and the often-false promise of the American Dream.