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The Loved Ones
     

The Loved Ones

by Sonya Chung
 

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In this masterful novel of inheritance and loss, Sonya Chung (Long for This World) proves herself a worthy heir to Marguerite Duras, Hwang Sun-won, and James Salter. Spanning generations and divergent cultures, The Loved Ones maps the intimate politics of unlikely attractions, illicit love, and costly

Overview

In this masterful novel of inheritance and loss, Sonya Chung (Long for This World) proves herself a worthy heir to Marguerite Duras, Hwang Sun-won, and James Salter. Spanning generations and divergent cultures, The Loved Ones maps the intimate politics of unlikely attractions, illicit love, and costly reconciliations.

Charles Lee, the young African American patriarch of a biracial family, seeks to remedy his fatherless childhood in Washington, DC, by making an honorable choice when his chance arrives. Years later in the mid-1980s, uneasy and stymied in his marriage to Alice, he finds a connection with Hannah Lee, the teenage Korean American caregiver whose parents’ transgressive flight from tradition and war has left them shrouded in a cloud of secrets and muted passion.

A shocking and senseless death will test every familial bond and force all who are touched by the tragedy to reexamine who their loved ones truly are—the very meaning of the words. Haunting, elliptical, and powerful, The Loved Ones deconstructs the world we think we know and shows us the one we inhabit.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
★ 2016-08-23
A gorgeous multigenerational saga of love and race, loss and belonging, Chung’s (Long for This World, 2010) latest follows the intertwining lives of two very different families in Washington, D.C.Charles Frederick Douglass Lee, the young African-American patriarch of his biracial family, husband of Alice, father of Veda (9, beautiful) and Benny (6, difficult), is doing for his family what his own father couldn’t, or wouldn’t. As a young soldier stationed in Korea, Charles met Alice, fresh out of the Peace Corps and avoiding medical school at home. Alice got pregnant; Charles proposed, determined to “put his head down, do right, and make a family.” And so they have built a life together, stable if not easy. Then Alice returns to work after years at home, and the family (Alice, really—Charles “didn’t believe in babysitters”) hires Hannah Lee, the stoic 13-year-old daughter of Korean immigrants, to look after the kids. In Hannah, Charles finds unlikely kinship, and the two develop a silent understanding, powerful, unspoken, and deeply intimate. “Hannah had no name for her watchfulness toward Charles, and thus she treasured it all the more,” writes Chung. The watchfulness is mutual. But when tragedy strikes, Charles and Hannah are at once ripped apart and forever bound together, and the Lees—all of them—are forced to renegotiate their relationships with each other and with themselves. Quietly expansive, the novel moves between the stories of the two families, alternating glimpses of the past with the present: Hannah’s parents’ forbidden courtship in Korea and a doomed family trip back to the Hadong countryside 10 years later; Alice’s early adulthood and the night she met Charles. Every last one of Chung’s characters is wholly alive and breathtakingly human, but it’s her portrait of teenage Hannah—always complicated, never romanticized—that makes the novel such a heart-wrenching pleasure. Elegant and empathetic, a book impossible to put down.
Library Journal
11/15/2016
Chung (Long for This World) opens this second novel matter-of-factly, with the wife of Charles Frederick Douglass Lee hiring 13-year-old Hannah Lee to babysit their two children. There's no relation between the two Lee families—Charles is African American and his wife white, and Hannah's parents are Korean immigrants. As the narrative unfolds, the story deepens to embrace the histories and hidden sorrows of both clans. As a young soldier in Korea, Charles became involved with Alice, just out of the Peace Corps, and married her when she got pregnant; unlike his father, he was determined to be an honorable family man. Hannah's parents were a love match, her father marrying her mother despite family opposition, and the flight from war-torn Korea to America had not been easy. Charles and Hannah bond unexpectedly, and the narrative moves quietly forward until a seaside tragedy sets everyone spinning. VERDICT An effortlessly and elegantly written tale of family, with introspective insight into the issue of race; for all readers.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780984764846
Publisher:
Relegation Books
Publication date:
10/18/2016
Pages:
280
Sales rank:
473,746
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.70(d)

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