"Rich and multilayered, Lee's novel explores what it means to be a part of something, whether it's a family or a culture. Told in Hua's sparse, somber voice, the story grabs readers from the start and doesn't let go until the final page. A truly memorable first outing." Kristine Huntley, Booklist (starred review)
978-0-8021-7046-0 • $14.00 • Paperback • June 2008
When Hua Wu arrives in New York City, her life seems destined to resemble that of countless immigrants before her. She spends her hectic days working in a restaurant in Chinatown, and her lonesome nights in a noisy, crowded tenement, yearning for those she left behind in Fuzhou, China.
But one day in a park in the West Village, a chance encounter alters the course of Hua’s life, as well as the lives of others. She meets Jane Templeton and her daughter, Lily, a two-year-old adopted from China. Eager to expose Lily to the language and culture of the country of her birth, Jane decides to hire Hua to be her nanny.
From the moment she steps into Jane’s brownstone apartment, Hua finds herself in a world far removed from the cramped streets of Chinatown or her grandmother’s home in Fuzhou. Jane, a museum curator of Asian art, and her husband, a theater critic, are cultured and successful. They pull Hua into their circle of family and friends until she is deeply attached to Lily and their way of life. But when cracks show in the family’s perfect façade, what will Hua do to protect the little girl who reminds her so much of her own past?
A beautiful and revelatory novel with a deceptively simple premise, Happy Family is a promising debut from a perceptive and graceful writer.