Real Americans

Three generations of a Chinese-American family grapple with identity, expectations, and whether family equals destiny in Real Americans, the imaginative and expansive, yet intimate, second novel from Rachel Khong (Goodbye, Vitamins).

On the eve of Y2K, Lily Chen meets Matthew at her employer's office party. Their connection is undeniable, and they fall in love, but Lily's mother, a dedicated geneticist, acts strangely resistant to the idea of Matthew. When a surprising truth comes out, everything Lily thought she knew about her parents and her relationship is rocked.

Sixteen years later, Lily and her teenage son, Nick, live on a remote island in Washington State. Nick doesn't know the identity of his father, nor why Nick presents as white when his mother is Chinese-American. Nick invests in a DNA test, and he's shocked when it leads him to his father, who invalidates the story of abandonment Lily has told Nick. At the root of everything lies the story of Lily's mother, Mei, her desperate escape from 1960s China, and the scientific discoveries that would impact the Chen family for generations.

This family saga shines as both ambitious and wholly unpretentious, with a sweeping scope that spans continents and eras, and an immediacy of emotion that maintains a sense of intimacy between the reader and its multiple protagonists. Traces of science fiction and magical realism give additional texture to the realistic storyline, all combining in an exploration of fate versus choice. Real Americans is a profound, riveting, and loving journey of betrayal and forgiveness, of words left unsaid, that will provide rich food for thought for book clubs and independent readers alike. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

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