When her husband suddenly disappears, a young woman must uncover where he went—and who she might be without him—in this striking debut of immigration, identity, and marriage.
After another taxing day as the sole female employee at her New York City tech startup, Edwina comes home to find that her husband, Marlin, has packed up a suitcase and left. The only question now is why. Did he give up on their increasingly hopeless quest to secure their green cards and decide to return to Malaysia? Was it the death of his father that sent him into a tailspin? Or has his strange, sudden change in personality finally made Marlin and Edwina strangers to each other?
As Edwina searches the city for traces of her husband, she simultaneously sifts through memories of their relationship, hoping to discover the moment when something went wrong. All the while, a coworker is making increasingly uncomfortable advances toward her. And she can’t hide the truth about Marlin’s disappearance from her overbearing, eccentric mother for much longer. Soon Edwina will have to decide how much she is willing to sacrifice in order to stay in her marriage and in America.
***Thanks to Edelweiss and Ecco for an eARC of this book. The following review is my honest reflection on the text provided.
not my cup of tea:
I enjoyed the concept of this story more than the execution. Edwina and Marlin are two Malaysian immigrants living in America, working towards their green cards. Their relationship in the “before” chapters seems easy if not overly emotional. Marlin is logical and vegan, Edwina is a vegetarian liberal arts graduate working at a tech startup surrounded by the nerdy version of frat boys. They meet in America and bond over their veg diets and shared background. In the “after” Edwina returns home from work to find her husband missing. This is just the next step in what seems to be the unravelling of logical Marlin into a strange, parallel reality following the unexpected death of his father.
The story is told from Edwina’s point of view mostly in a therapeutic outpouring of her thoughts, emotions, and actions, tracing the history of their relationship non-linearly from meet to disappearance. Because of this, I found her incredibly relatable and easily accessible. There was no barrier between her deepest thoughts and the reader so it almost felt like her thoughts were my thoughts.
Unfortunately, I just didn’t find Edwina’s actions believable. Even with the fear of being ineligible for a green card, there are so many things she could or should have done once Marlin went missing. And even if I don’t agree with her actions, because sure, people in shock or grief don’t always react logically or the way you expect them to, I guess if she was going to fall apart and go on a mini version of self-discovery, I’d want a little more actual discovery. The plot seemed unfinished and a little rushed in the end after meandering through very thorough descriptions of the process of eating different meats and a highly unnecessary bathtub scene.
I found the “before” chapters much more enjoyable than the “after” – Edwina’s stories growing up in Malaysia with her overbearing mother, her journey to America, her guilt and indecision about remaining in America. The “before” chapters were interesting, whereas the “after” chapters were messy and slightly illogical.
Overall this was an easy-to-read book from a unique, if slightly unpolished, point of view.