Light Years from Home

Harlequin MIRA. Jan. 2022. 384p. ISBN 9780778311737. $24.99. SF
Chen (A Beginning at the End) has written a heartfelt novel of family dysfunction wrapped in an intergalactic cloak. Brazilian Chinese sisters Evie and Kass Chao have been estranged since the family camping trip 15 years ago where their father and brother disappeared. Their father returned after three days—dehydrated, confused, and talking about aliens—but Kass’s twin brother Jakob didn’t. For years afterward, Kass suspected that her brother had actually run away and left her to hold the family together and take care of their mother. Meanwhile Evie, the youngest, took up her father’s cause and got involved in alien conspiracy theories, dividing the sisters even more. Now, after years, Jakob is back—older, harder, and talking about alien wars across the galaxy. Other facts begin to emerge, along with the FBI, making the sisters lose faith in their own beliefs. Kass and Evie will have to resolve their differences and settle their past, before they lose their brother again.
VERDICT Chen’s strength in writing poignant character arcs, especially within family dynamics, shines here, as does his ability to craft intriguing blends of literary and speculative fiction with compelling, character-driven plots.
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