Social Media Icons

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Review: Joan is Okay by Weike Wang

Joan is Okay
by Weike Wang

Thanks so much to Random House/Random House Audio for these #giftedbooks.

Publisher: Random House Audio
Publish Date: January 18, 2022
8 hours
Genres: Contemporary, Literary Fiction, Cultural:China

Joan is a 30-something ICU doctor at a busy New York City hospital. The daughter of Chinese parents who came to the United States to secure the American dream for their children, Joan is intensely devoted to her work, happily solitary, successful. She does look up sometimes and wonder where her true roots lie: at the hospital, where her white coat makes her feel needed, or with her family, who try to shape her life by their own cultural and social expectations.

Once Joan and her brother, Fang, were established in their careers, her parents moved back to China, hoping to spend the rest of their lives in their homeland. But when Joan’s father suddenly dies and her mother returns to America to reconnect with her children, a series of events sends Joan spiraling out of her comfort zone just as her hospital, her city, and the world are forced to reckon with a health crisis more devastating than anyone could have imagined.

Deceptively spare yet quietly powerful, laced with sharp humor, 'JOAN IS OKAY' touches on matters that feel deeply resonant: being Chinese-American right now; working in medicine at a high-stakes time; finding one’s voice within a dominant culture; being a woman in a male-dominated workplace; and staying independent within a tight-knit family. But above all, it’s a portrait of one remarkable woman so surprising that you can’t get her out of your head.

My Review:

Despite what it looks like, no... I was not the large hand stand-in on that Seinfeld episode. 🤣

Ok, now that that's out of the way... let's chat about Joan, but I'm gonna keep this short because at 224 pages, we get a lot but nothing that I want to spoil.  This is definitely a character over plot driven novel and I simply love Joan.  She is not only relatable but I also get her sense of humor completely.  While my struggles being Asian American differ from hers in certain ways, I completely understand that pull between two different cultures and how to find a true balance within yourself. Amen.

Wang touches on many important subject matters such as racism, misogyny, family responsibilities and what is expected of you etc. Watching Joan navigate through it all was like listening to her tell you her story. While she was so relatable, she also was hard to understand in certain instances.. but hey, she's complex like all us humans and I loved this about her.  What's especially brilliant about this novel is the introduction of pandemic issues towards the end.  When you read this, and you should... really pay attention to this part.

 The slightly abrupt ending has me itching for more.  While I wasn't flying through the pages, I am definitely invested in Joan and would like to see more of her in the future.  But if not, then I'm happy I got to know her for a short time. 


No comments

Leave a Comment