FICTION

Swimming Back to Trout River

S. & S. May 2021. 272p. ISBN 9781982129392. $26. F
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DEBUT In rural 1980s China, five-year-old Junie, a child born without lower legs, is traveling by train with her mother, Cassia, to Trout River. There she will stay with the parents of her father, Momo, while her own parents go to the U.S. for Momo’s graduate studies. When Junie is 10, she receives a letter from her parents promising to bring her to America when she turns 12. The narrative then focuses on the relationships of Cassia, Momo, and Momo’s undergraduate classmate Dawn, movingly outlining the stories of these three characters before and after the Cultural Revolution in China and showing how their lives intersect once again in the U.S. The result is an emotional work focused on relationships and filled with love, hope, and determination, but also heartbreak.
VERDICT Hard to put down, this beautifully written novel is filled with optimism; its characters each seek to do their best under the circumstances and make decisions leading to a better future. Feng makes her mark in this promising debut, and she successfully weaves in several unexpected plot twists as the narrative unfolds, leaving readers to long for a sequel.
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