Monday, February 23, 2015

"Across a Green Ocean"

Wendy Lee is the author of the novels Across a Green Ocean (Kensington) and Happy Family (Black Cat/Grove Atlantic). Happy Family was named one of the top ten debut novels of 2008 by Booklist and awarded an honorable mention from the Association of Asian American Studies.

Lee applied the Page 69 Test to Across a Green Ocean and reported the following:
Across a Green Ocean is the story of a Chinese American family dealing with grief. A year after her husband’s death, Ling Tang is considering embarking on a new relationship. Her daughter, Emily, an immigration lawyer in New York City, is dealing with a difficult case and an even more difficult marriage. Finally, her son, Michael, who is gay but never came out to his family, decides to take a trip to China to find out more about his father’s past.

Page 69 is entirely about Emily. It starts with a scene between her and another lawyer at her firm:
“Friends,” she said, clunking plastic glasses with him. But she knew the person who wasn’t chosen as partner would have to leave the firm. There would be no way that you could stay at a place that had effectively snubbed you. And after that happened, she and Rick could probably never be friends again.

So in a way she treasured what she thought of as her and Rick’s last summer together. She grew to appreciate their late nights, that they were able to share the same frustrations and minor breakthroughs. She was reminded of all the hours they had spent together over the past six years, knowing he was toiling away in the office down the hall, eating the same terrible takeout, turning off the lights long after the janitors had cleaned the floors.
Sounds like a typical workplace drama, right? What you don’t know is that prior to this, Emily has just found out that her client, an illegal immigrant on the verge of deportation, has died in detention. Because she was so close to the client’s family, that tragedy throws her into a tailspin. It also reminds her of her father’s death, which she hasn’t properly processed, the year before. At 32, Emily considers leaving her job, her husband, and her entire life behind, but she doesn’t know what for. In her family, Emily is the responsible sibling, the one who always does the right thing, but now she’s starting to question what’s right for her.

I think page 69 is a decent representation of Emily’s character and her conflict in the book. However, there isn’t anything about Ling and Michael, who are both undergoing their own relationship and personal dilemmas, and whose stories are equally vital to the plot.
Visit Wendy Lee's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: Across a Green Ocean.

Writers Read: Wendy Lee.

--Marshal Zeringue