- In Full Bloom by Caroline Hwang
Engaging and surprisingly wise. I would like to think that chicklit is slowly headed toward something like this, somewhere between literary and fluff. It was doubly interesting to me because many of the characters, including the protag Ginger, are Korean Americans. The struggles of Ginger felt very familiar. I loved that while she lives through all the normal issues of twenty-somethings, she also comes to an evolving understanding of her identity and ethnicity. It's a bittersweet hand that the second generation gets dealt. What makes this great reading is how well Hwang combines this with the lighter elements of finding love and friends and living in the City. Stereotypes and stock characters are well avoided in most cases, with the presence of complex and unexpected personalities. In an Amy Tan vein, the interactions with Ginger's mom are sweet and funny and poignant. Hwang is also a better writer than most novices out there, so while the topics could be weighty, the overall tone of the book is bright and hopeful.