BIOGRAPHY

Seeing Ghosts

Grand Central. Aug. 2021. 368p. ISBN 9781538716328. $28. MEMOIR
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Journalist Chow confronts the loss of her mother in a memoir that illustrates the way grief can become a fixture in one’s life—grief for the lost loved one and for all that remains unspoken and elusive. Chow’s mother was born in China and emigrated to the U.S. to attend college, where she met her husband. When Chow was growing up, a failed restaurant venture and an ever-present sense of financial precarity fueled her parents’ frequent arguments. After her mother’s death from cancer in 2004, and her older siblings grown and out of the house, Chow is left to forge a relationship with her reticent father. She becomes a kind of reservoir for her family, absorbing their pain, unresolved antagonisms, and memories both warm and haunting. Her memoir is a vivid portrait of her loving and flawed Chinese American family. The book is a tribute to Chow’s spirited mother, but it’s also a revealing portrait of three daughters trying to negotiate a complicated relationship with their father.
VERDICT Chow’s book is an important and welcome addition to a growing catalogue of memoirs by a new generation of Asian American writers, including Michelle Zauner’s Crying in H Mart and Anna Qu’s Made in China.
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