You Can’t Stay Here Forever

Harper. Jun. 2023. 304p. ISBN 9780063241435. $28.99. F
DEBUT Mere months after her wedding, Ellie Huang Anderson is a 29-year-old widow. Her “perfect” life—sharing a beautiful San Francisco home with her husband Ian, also a high-powered lawyer—has vanished in an instant. Ellie’s life is further upended when she discovers that Ian was having an affair for the entirety of their relationship, and she begins to feel as if all she has achieved is an illusion and that her desire to be the “good” one and an ideal wife has left her adrift. Ellie decides to use Ian’s life insurance money to head to the South of France and the Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc with her best friend, Mable Chou. Their extravagant vacation from real life allows Ellie to finally look at her marriage, her friendship, her job, and her relationship with her immigrant mother. The tropical setting, filled with rich food and cocktails, is the perfect salve for Ellie’s grief and anger. After an epic verbal argument with Mable, Ellie faces her past and realizes that her desire for acceptance has ruled her life. Now is her chance to be herself.
VERDICT A riveting debut with rich characterization, scenic setting, and sharp insights on relationships, class, and one Asian American woman’s experience.
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