counter create hit My Year Abroad - Download Free eBook
Hot Best Seller

My Year Abroad

Availability: Ready to download

From the award-winning author of Native Speaker and On Such a Full Sea, an exuberant, provocative story about a young American life transformed by an unusual Asian adventure - and about the human capacities for pleasure, pain, and connection. Tiller is an average American college student with a good heart but minimal aspirations. Pong Lou is a larger-than-life, wildly creat From the award-winning author of Native Speaker and On Such a Full Sea, an exuberant, provocative story about a young American life transformed by an unusual Asian adventure - and about the human capacities for pleasure, pain, and connection. Tiller is an average American college student with a good heart but minimal aspirations. Pong Lou is a larger-than-life, wildly creative Chinese American entrepreneur who sees something intriguing in Tiller beyond his bored exterior and takes him under his wing. When Pong brings him along on a boisterous trip across Asia, Tiller is catapulted from ordinary young man to talented protégé, and pulled into a series of ever more extreme and eye-opening experiences that transform his view of the world, of Pong, and of himself. In the breathtaking, "precise, elliptical prose" that Chang-rae Lee is known for (The New York Times), the narrative alternates between Tiller's outlandish, mind-boggling year with Pong and the strange, riveting, emotionally complex domestic life that follows it, as Tiller processes what happened to him abroad and what it means for his future. Rich with commentary on Western attitudes, Eastern stereotypes, capitalism, global trade, mental health, parenthood, mentorship, and more, My Year Abroad is also an exploration of the surprising effects of cultural immersion—on a young American in Asia, on a Chinese man in America, and on an unlikely couple hiding out in the suburbs. Tinged at once with humor and darkness, electric with its accumulating surprises and suspense, My Year Abroad is a novel that only Chang-rae Lee could have written, and one that will be read and discussed for years to come.


Compare

From the award-winning author of Native Speaker and On Such a Full Sea, an exuberant, provocative story about a young American life transformed by an unusual Asian adventure - and about the human capacities for pleasure, pain, and connection. Tiller is an average American college student with a good heart but minimal aspirations. Pong Lou is a larger-than-life, wildly creat From the award-winning author of Native Speaker and On Such a Full Sea, an exuberant, provocative story about a young American life transformed by an unusual Asian adventure - and about the human capacities for pleasure, pain, and connection. Tiller is an average American college student with a good heart but minimal aspirations. Pong Lou is a larger-than-life, wildly creative Chinese American entrepreneur who sees something intriguing in Tiller beyond his bored exterior and takes him under his wing. When Pong brings him along on a boisterous trip across Asia, Tiller is catapulted from ordinary young man to talented protégé, and pulled into a series of ever more extreme and eye-opening experiences that transform his view of the world, of Pong, and of himself. In the breathtaking, "precise, elliptical prose" that Chang-rae Lee is known for (The New York Times), the narrative alternates between Tiller's outlandish, mind-boggling year with Pong and the strange, riveting, emotionally complex domestic life that follows it, as Tiller processes what happened to him abroad and what it means for his future. Rich with commentary on Western attitudes, Eastern stereotypes, capitalism, global trade, mental health, parenthood, mentorship, and more, My Year Abroad is also an exploration of the surprising effects of cultural immersion—on a young American in Asia, on a Chinese man in America, and on an unlikely couple hiding out in the suburbs. Tinged at once with humor and darkness, electric with its accumulating surprises and suspense, My Year Abroad is a novel that only Chang-rae Lee could have written, and one that will be read and discussed for years to come.

30 review for My Year Abroad

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Woodbury

    A modern update on the classic bildungsroman that is absolutely full of surprises. It is packed full of enough themes for a college lit course, but strongest among them are love, identity, race, and the old trope of East meets West. When I say this is like a classic bildungsroman, I mean it quite literally. In the early chapters I had the impression I was reading something like David Copperfield or Jane Eyre. The way our narrator addresses us, the way he refers to the adventure he is about to un A modern update on the classic bildungsroman that is absolutely full of surprises. It is packed full of enough themes for a college lit course, but strongest among them are love, identity, race, and the old trope of East meets West. When I say this is like a classic bildungsroman, I mean it quite literally. In the early chapters I had the impression I was reading something like David Copperfield or Jane Eyre. The way our narrator addresses us, the way he refers to the adventure he is about to undertake, it is all carefully crafted. And yet in the midst of that 19th century setup is a distinctly 21st century story, our hero, Tiller, is at the beginning a person of little consequence. He is a little below average in almost every way, he has hardly any distinguishing characteristics besides the fact that he is biracial (he is 1/8th Korean) but passing as white and that his mother left his family when he was young. The narration has that old school feel in part because the voice never really feels like a 20-year-old man, not even a little, even when the prose is dotted with slang or strange references, it feels like a 20-year-old the same way a Dickens story does. Our story gets going when Tiller meets Pong, a Chinese immigrant and entrepreneur. Pong is one of those charismatic people who seems to know and be friends with everyone. He is the guy you call when you need almost anything. He is generous and happy to help his friends. And when he meets Tiller he sees something immediately. This is a surprise to Tiller, who doesn't see all that much in himself. But he hasn't yet realized the deep longing he has for a parental figure, for someone who is proud of him, that makes him entirely vulnerable to do anything Pong asks, including a business trip to Asia where things get... weird. You know they will get weird because Tiller tells you so, as the chapters switch between his going back to tell his story and looking to where he has landed afterwards, as the semi-boyfriend and semi-stepfather to an older woman and her son. This is not a particularly normal story either, and it seems a strange place for a 20-year-old man who was supposed to be heading back to college. This story has its own unusual twists and turns, but is more rooted in Tiller's ever-growing connection to this quasi-family and his own reckoning with the loss of his mother and of Pong. As Tiller travels, everyone sees something in him that he has never seen in himself. Everyone imbues him with their own confidence in his skills, which is terrifying and exhilarating for him. And how he sees himself begins to change. Especially as his time in Asia is not so much a trip abroad as it is a kind of homecoming, a way to discard the American-ness he has never been fully comfortable with and pick up a new identity. This is a long book, and I cannot really capture here how strange it is, but I really enjoyed reading it. I was worried it was going to be too long or too difficult but it never was. It was completely readable, though I found the prose to be sometimes too much of a highwire act, it is certainly distinctive in its voice, and there is always something unfolding to dive into. I finished it quite quickly, actually. There aren't an abundance of content warnings here but the most notable are the use of a kind of roofie, sexual assault (kind of, this one is a weird one but there is definitely a loss of bodily autonomy and a sexual element so this is the best fit), and attempted suicide.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Lawson

    One hell of a ride. 4.5 stars.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Traci at The Stacks

    Really strong writing but ultimately not my kind of book. There are some great vivid scenes that glue the book together, but in between i found myself losing interest. This is for sure for the fiction lovers out there. A little too much going on and certainly too long. I can appreciate the skill with which Lee writes but the story didn’t ever capture me until the end.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ari Levine

    2.5, rounded up. I enjoyed thinking about this reading experience after it was over, and found surprising, revelatory, hilarious, and disgusting moments in almost every chapter, but this is a bloated, sprawling, and spectacular mess. This is a very loose picaresque novel about the various forms of pleasure (luxury shopping, thrills, sex, drugs, food, booze, wellness, yoga, tourism) that the global 1% are privileged to obsessively pursue under late capitalism, how these high-end modes of luxury c 2.5, rounded up. I enjoyed thinking about this reading experience after it was over, and found surprising, revelatory, hilarious, and disgusting moments in almost every chapter, but this is a bloated, sprawling, and spectacular mess. This is a very loose picaresque novel about the various forms of pleasure (luxury shopping, thrills, sex, drugs, food, booze, wellness, yoga, tourism) that the global 1% are privileged to obsessively pursue under late capitalism, how these high-end modes of luxury consumption fill their gaping ontological/psychological voids, and how legions of global wage slaves grind themselves into oblivion while laboring to enable these pleasures. Tiller, our first-person narrator, is a callow 20-year old college bro, passively drifting through the hoops of upper-middle-class achievement in Dunbar, a wealthy suburb suspiciously like Princeton, New Jersey. Seeking a father figure, he apprentices himself to Pong, a fantastically wealthy Chinese immigrant chemist/entrepreneur, who ensnares him into embarking upon a grotesque parody of a junior year abroad exploring East Asia's grungier megacities as an accomplice in an elaborate business deal/laughable multi-level marketing scam involving nutritionally-optimized Indonesian tropical-fruit juice. Tiller is one-eighth Chinese, with a smattering of college-level Mandarin, and is swept along on this bizarre journey with the whoa-dude enthusiasm of a first-time backpacker, or late-1980s Keanu Reeves. Lee delivers episodes of an exhilaratingly perilous surfing trip in Oahu, royal pig-outs on robatayaki in Shenzhen, producing industrial quantities of Thai curry paste in a huge human-sized mortar and pestle, Daoist alchemy involving the mass-production of vats of mercury to ensure immortality, a yoga competition involving the world's most limber instructors, monumental tokes of primo THC, and kinky Stakhanovite sex with the daughter of a mysterious crime boss/real-estate mogul with the ridiculous pan-Asian name "Drum Kappagoda," who lives in a Bond-villain lair high in the hills of Guangdong. This contemporary stoner David Copperfield was much more entertaining to recollect as I write this review than it was to actually read over about a week of evenings. Lee doesn't plausibly channel the voice of a Zoomer, and delivers some real clangers, like a cringeworthy Steve Buscemi "How do you do, fellow kids!" meme. Tiller's emotional bandwidth is so narrow, and his personal agency is so limited, that all of this forced weirdness feels numbingly monotonous by the novel's halfway point. (Into the middle of the novel, Lee shoehorns one of the least convincing and most under-researched Cultural Revolution narratives I've ever read, in a misconceived attempt to endow Pong with some kind of psychological depth.) For reasons we don't learn until the very end of the novel, this business deal has imploded most heinously, and Tiller flees back to the States to avoid processing any of these traumatic experiences. After meeting cute in the food court of Hong Kong International Airport, he follows a depressed 30-something woman named Val and her cloyingly precocious 8-year-old son Victor Jr. back to a post-industrial working-class suburb, somewhere in the tri-state area, that Lee ironically/wincingly names Stagno. Lee awkwardly alternates episodes from Tiller's year abroad with more grounded observations of his life as a house-husband and homeschooling pseudo-parent in the 'burbs, where Val is living under federal witness protection, after testifying against her ex-husband's felony-level involvement with a Tashkentian crime syndicate. These nearly-eventless domestic chapters feel like they've been parachuted in from an entirely different novel, and Lee gets bogged down in prolix descriptions of Victor Jr. opening a pop-up supper club and cooking obscenely elaborate and Instagramable gourmet meals for the neighbors. This exuberant, uncontrolled experiment in maximalism really doesn't play to Lee's strengths as a writer, as he demonstrated in Native Speaker and A Gesture Life: restraint, withholding, obliqueness, deliberate silences.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nadine

    Narrator Tiller Bardamon is a 20 year old who lives on the “poor side” of an exclusive New Jersey suburb clearly based on Princeton,“where Labradoodles outnumber the ethnics”. In fact, being ¼ Asian, he practically IS the local ethnic. In the fall he plans to go on a year abroad program and he does, but it's not the one offered by his college. Instead Tiller impulsively travels to Asia with a local, highly successful and charismatic Chinese businessman, and his experiences are wild in ways you c Narrator Tiller Bardamon is a 20 year old who lives on the “poor side” of an exclusive New Jersey suburb clearly based on Princeton,“where Labradoodles outnumber the ethnics”. In fact, being ¼ Asian, he practically IS the local ethnic. In the fall he plans to go on a year abroad program and he does, but it's not the one offered by his college. Instead Tiller impulsively travels to Asia with a local, highly successful and charismatic Chinese businessman, and his experiences are wild in ways you can't imagine. Trust me, you can't. The book's title is a riot of an understatement, and typical of the book's style of humor. Tiller is such an engaging character for me - internally insecure and needy, but outwardly modest, uncomplaining and hard-working. I felt the weight of Tiller's emotional pains, but his voice is so wry and self-deprecating it never seemed heavy ("I'm so sorry,” I said, unable to help but fluff the downy pillow of my self-pity.) Tiller narrates the story after he returns from Asia, but the chapters alternate between time frames – the before, during, and after of his trip – so it all feels present tense, and the pacing never flags. I can see how some readers might think that Lee went a little over the top with Tiller's experiences in Asia (not as in gory, but just being a shade too fantastical), but for me he stayed just shy of the line. (view spoiler)[A couple of exceptions: Tiller's great singing voice - I can't imagine how he'd have got through life not knowing he had vocal talent. Also, Vincent Jr's cooking skills at age 8 might have overtoed the line. (hide spoiler)] But then, I can forgive easily in the face of such pitch-perfect and entertaining writing. I don't want to give the impression that this book is solely entertainment, though - it has a quiet strain of gentle melancholy I've seen in the other Lee books I've read, and it does look at profound questions, but never sinks into profundity. Still, it's the entertaining factor I keep coming back to, since I found delights on every page. Some were simple, trenchant observations of modern life, like “...taking a picture of a plate of food is by now an involuntary human response.” Others were just plain beautiful, like this description of eating a perfectly cooked omlette: ““...this fluffy, buttery masterpiece that was like gliding tongue-first into a cloud.” Lee also conveys nuanced thought in a clear, visual language, as in this example on race:“...I took an unconsciously intense gander at her, to pick through the genetic runes of her face, her hair, her body, and retroactively analyze whatever thing she'd said or done through this new spyglass. But this new spyglass is a trick, you actually have to peer through it the other way and back onto yourself to understand that it's all about you, and always has been, particularly if you're a semi-diasporic post-colonial indeterminate like me...” Finally, a more extended example of just how entertaining Lee's writing can be, with this (single sentence!) description of scuba diving for the first time:“The thing about scuba is that it looks so fun and easy on the cable shows, you imagine flippering through the blue perfection with a majesty that will reconnect you to a primordial yearning for the serene gill-based existence we once enjoyed and maybe should never have evolved out of, when the truth is that the first time you strap on the mask and stick the regulator in your mouth you feel like you've been transformed into a badly designed personal submarine that features poor visibility and a gag so you can't scream.”

  6. 5 out of 5

    Diane Payne

    Lee's novel about Tiller's year abroad may make college students regret their safe journeys while away from campus. Then again, our twenty-year-old Tiller, isn't a typical fellow, even though he is portrayed as your average student. After caddying for some rather wild entrepreneurs, Tiller is invited to go to Asia on a business trip, to help promote this miracle drink, because Tiller has such amazing taste buds. While in Asia, he also learns he can sing, do yoga, make love for incredibly long pe Lee's novel about Tiller's year abroad may make college students regret their safe journeys while away from campus. Then again, our twenty-year-old Tiller, isn't a typical fellow, even though he is portrayed as your average student. After caddying for some rather wild entrepreneurs, Tiller is invited to go to Asia on a business trip, to help promote this miracle drink, because Tiller has such amazing taste buds. While in Asia, he also learns he can sing, do yoga, make love for incredibly long periods, and withstand a fair amount of pain, when the joyride ends and he is expected to make curry. Returning home, he meets a woman in her thirties with her eight-year-old son, on their way to their new witness protection home, and he moves in with them, quickly becoming her lover, and more gradually the young boy's father. If I were to read these two descriptions of the novel, I'm not sure I'd read the novel. Why his wild, zany novel works is because Lee has such amazing writing, and he provides some incredible insights and details, both humorous and sad, and even though we go from Asia to a nondescript town in Jersey, back and forth like a pinball game, what holds this novel together is the beautiful writing, the joyful truths, and the bleak realities.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Katja (Life and Other Disasters)

    *I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!* CW: parental abandonment, suicidal ideation, mental illness, forced labor, forced sexual intercourse, sex work Let’s get it out of the way. Unfortunately, I was not the right reader for this book. I had been very eager to pick up this novel, because of my own experiences abroad. Be it during my formative High School years or later on in life, every time I went to a different country for a longer period of *I was provided with an eARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!* CW: parental abandonment, suicidal ideation, mental illness, forced labor, forced sexual intercourse, sex work Let’s get it out of the way. Unfortunately, I was not the right reader for this book. I had been very eager to pick up this novel, because of my own experiences abroad. Be it during my formative High School years or later on in life, every time I went to a different country for a longer period of time, I learned something about the world, about people and most importantly myself. No matter where I stayed, it changed me and taught me valuable lessons. I cherish those experiences and thought it would be a great connection to this story. But no matter how hard I tried, I constantly found myself losing interest. Told between alternating timelines of now and the adventure that got Tiller to his present situation, I couldn’t always quite make the connection between the different scenarios. I felt that the story was disjointed and didn’t evoke the emotional effect I had hoped for. The journey abroad and its aftermath were so important, yet Tiller doesn’t even leave his country until about 40% into the book. While everything Tiller describes has a purpose, it’s still hard to follow him as he finds value in situations you wish he had never gotten into. I don’t think anything ever goes smoothly when you set out for something potentially life-changing, but where he found himself along the way was among the worst that could happen. There are some clear themes around parenthood, taking action (which Tiller does very late in the book, mostly being an inactive protagonist who things happen to rather than someone who makes things happen – but that’s all part of the journey!) kinship and the privilege of certain opportunities. And yet, I still couldn’t always grasp the fondness for certain people and experiences I would have rather never thought of ever again, while Tiller had them on the highest of pedestals. Ultimately, I think that this style of writing just wasn’t for me. I can see many literary fans rejoicing in the details, but I found myself drifting off mid-sentence as the descriptions became ever more elaborate and lengthy. In general, this book was just too long, offering pages of minute details of various foods and drinks or other things, just information on top of information, but not the connection to me as a reader I really sought. I am certain others will be able to appreciate Lee’s craftsmanship and skill more than I could. Fazit: 2/5 stars! Unfortunately, My Year Abroad failed to capture me.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Liz Hein

    Five stars and I almost DNFed this book twice. If it wasn’t for a buddy read I would have, and this is now my favorite piece of fiction published in 2021 (so far). This is a SLOW start, and that’s clearly very intentional. The story of Tiller’s life is slowly unveiled to us in two timelines. The first being his experience meeting a somewhat mystical and larger than life business man named Pong. Pong takes Tiller under his wing, igniting the “year abroad”. The other timeline is post year abroad w Five stars and I almost DNFed this book twice. If it wasn’t for a buddy read I would have, and this is now my favorite piece of fiction published in 2021 (so far). This is a SLOW start, and that’s clearly very intentional. The story of Tiller’s life is slowly unveiled to us in two timelines. The first being his experience meeting a somewhat mystical and larger than life business man named Pong. Pong takes Tiller under his wing, igniting the “year abroad”. The other timeline is post year abroad where Tiller is living with his partner and her child from a previous marriage which necessitates them living in somewhat hiding. We jump back and forth between these two timelines, slowly, and I mean slowly, learning more about the characters backstories. But by the end, I was sitting there literally hugging the book and thinking about what is important in life and how very fleeting it is. I already sort of knew this about my reading taste, but this book really solidified it: I am a sucker for a strong ending and My Year Abroad’s ending was perfect. I’m not exaggerating when I saw I was struggling and thought this was a 3 star read for beautiful writing for basically 400 pages. But Chang-Rae Lee knew exactly what he was doing. I would recommend this to fans of Remains of the Day and slow character drive stories.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Candace

    In "My Year Abroad," Chang-Rae Lee shows he is a writer at the top of his game. This is a complicated novel, and all of it is immediate and true. it's also the best use of bookending I may ever have read. Isn't that device supposed to keep tension and build suspence about how point A got to point B? In "My Year," it will keep you guessing. When we first meet Tiller, he's moving into a rented house in a hard-scrabble rust belt town with Val, a woman in her late 30s and her 8 year old son, whom he In "My Year Abroad," Chang-Rae Lee shows he is a writer at the top of his game. This is a complicated novel, and all of it is immediate and true. it's also the best use of bookending I may ever have read. Isn't that device supposed to keep tension and build suspence about how point A got to point B? In "My Year," it will keep you guessing. When we first meet Tiller, he's moving into a rented house in a hard-scrabble rust belt town with Val, a woman in her late 30s and her 8 year old son, whom he met in Hong Kong Airport. She is witness protection for turning her mobster husband in to the Feds, and now 21 year old Tiller has gone through Witsec with her and is joining her in exile. Only a year before, Tiller was one of the less affluent of his affluent New Jersey suburb, which is why he was washing dishes and filling in as a caddy to help fund his junior year abroad. We never know what country he's going to, but it doesn't matter because he doesn't go there. He fills in caddying for a friend and meets an interesting group of wealthy investors, and one of them takes a shine to him. Pong Lu is a chemist but also owns businesses --mostly food related--all over the area. Pong has a quiet chrisma, a gentle, deliberate way of bringing special talents out in others. He invites Tiller to come with him on a week-long business trip to Asia. The trip is extended and strange things begin to happen. A lot of drugs and sex, strange smoothie conoctions, weird cultish behavior, but it is all okay and Tiller feels safe as long as Pong is there. And then, suddenly, Pong is not. And there you have your bookends. Tiller's in the town they call Stagno with a strange woman and her "XL little boy." Why is he there? Why didn't he go home? Where's Pong? This is a long book,, but I wished it were longer. The pages shoot by. The mysteries pile up. The sections of crazy rich partying in various parts of Asia went on too long, but were always reeled in by the presence of Pong and Tiller's unsuspected reactions. The part set in Drum's compound near Shenzen stretched patience, but never enough to put the book down. and say "I'm done." "My Year Abroad" is a good novel for these times. Will we ever have answers? Does it matter? Thanks to Riverhead books and Netgalley for the pleasure of reviewing this novel. ~Candace Siegle, Greedy Reader

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elena L.

    MY YEAR ABROAD focuses on Tiller, an American college student whose life is transformed when he goes on an investment trip to Asia as an associate with Pong, a Chinese American entrepreneur. Alternating between dual timeline - Tiller's time abroad and his life after the overseas expedition - we follow Tiller's maturation and growth in wisdom as he goes through adventures and unusual events. He is a passive person who finds value in different situations which could be less meaningful for the major MY YEAR ABROAD focuses on Tiller, an American college student whose life is transformed when he goes on an investment trip to Asia as an associate with Pong, a Chinese American entrepreneur. Alternating between dual timeline - Tiller's time abroad and his life after the overseas expedition - we follow Tiller's maturation and growth in wisdom as he goes through adventures and unusual events. He is a passive person who finds value in different situations which could be less meaningful for the majority. By detailing everyday mundane tasks, Lee is gifted at evoking emotions in some reflective insights and capturing the vulnerability in portraying the sincere essence of humanity. Throughout the story, it felt like the narrator was having an ongoing conversation with the reader with a genuine and humorous tone. What I mostly enjoyed is how Lee approached the song/music in the novel. Don't read this book with an empty stomach because the food, yum the food! I can tell that Lee is an experienced writer from his accurate and skilled writing. While I appreciated reading thought-provoking commentaries on parenthood, politics, love, belonging, race, culture, immigration, mental illness, capitalism and power, I wasn't the right reader for this book. In this observant narrative, readers can be overwhelmed by the abundance of details and information and I couldn't grasp Lee's intention in the experiences detailed. Only after Pong's introduction that my interest picked up a bit and since I was craving for a "familiar" ground, I was therefore eager to reach the "my year abroad" part. I thought that the characters development was overall in-depth yet the uneven pacing dragged my reading experience. Unfortunately I wasn't invested in the story till the end and it felt too long. If you enjoy a slow-built, character-driven and utterly literary storyline, MY YEAR ABROAD might resonance with you in the most intimate way. [ I received a complimentary copy from the publisher - Riverhead books - in exchange for an honest review ]

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    Other readers have pointed out that Chang-rae Lee's My Year Abroad is a profound work, steeped in ideas, but also "a blast to read." Yes on all counts. It's long, very long, and dense, with two timelines playing out through the voice of Tiller, whose very name describes how he navigates through his experiences. In a recent interview Lee responded to the question of genre, whether this could be called picaresque or a bildungsroman, by saying that he didn't want it to be categorized as such. Lee w Other readers have pointed out that Chang-rae Lee's My Year Abroad is a profound work, steeped in ideas, but also "a blast to read." Yes on all counts. It's long, very long, and dense, with two timelines playing out through the voice of Tiller, whose very name describes how he navigates through his experiences. In a recent interview Lee responded to the question of genre, whether this could be called picaresque or a bildungsroman, by saying that he didn't want it to be categorized as such. Lee went on to say a coming of age novel is usually a debut, but at age 55, he wanted his narrator's voice to be younger and naive, and thus made Tiller's voice shift between teen and young adult as he matures over the course of his experiences. So in the backstory line we have Tiller meeting Pong, a highly successful local businessman of Chinese ancestry, who takes him on as a sort of intern, flying him business class to Asia, and the over-the-top experiences he encounters as they market a health drink to off the charts billionaires. In present day, Tiller lives with his lover and her son who are under federal witness protection in somewhere USA. In both storylines, the importance of food and the nostalgic power of music play heavily. Food, not just the taste and preparation, but its properties of of home connection to the past. But interwoven here also is Pong's history, told by him in his distinctive voice, which is the core of the narrative. His family history particularly with respect to Mao's Cultural Revolution and the resultant effect on his life. How he built his business empire. As I say in the beginning, there are a lot of pages in this book, but at no time did it feel labored. There's much humor, and descriptions of meals are mouthwatering. Highly recommended.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Diana Paul

    In this latest novel by Chang-rae Lee, author of the riveting and sublime A Native Speaker and A Gesture Life, we see Tiller, a slacker-millennial, a college student who has moved in with a cougar, a thirty-something single mom, Val. Together they are raising a chubby eight-year old son, Victor Jr. aka Veej, with a genius for creating gourmet dishes. Tiller is also a "hapa"--half-Korean, half-white guy wanting something adventurous in his pedestrian life. Having very low self-esteem, Tiller is f In this latest novel by Chang-rae Lee, author of the riveting and sublime A Native Speaker and A Gesture Life, we see Tiller, a slacker-millennial, a college student who has moved in with a cougar, a thirty-something single mom, Val. Together they are raising a chubby eight-year old son, Victor Jr. aka Veej, with a genius for creating gourmet dishes. Tiller is also a "hapa"--half-Korean, half-white guy wanting something adventurous in his pedestrian life. Having very low self-esteem, Tiller is first and foremost, searching for validation. Under witness protection due to Val's ex-husband being a minor thug, Tiller, Val and Victor Jr. have moved to a town that could be in Appalachia: Stagno, which has lost any employers it may have once had, leaving everyone stagnating. Tiller, despite his love for Val and his interest in the little boy, is also stagnating. Along comes a charismatic, extremely wealthy Chinese American business man, Pong Lou, who decides not only to mentor Tiller, when they meet in a bar, but also to treat him to the trip of a lifetime to promote his health drink, Elixerent, for a start-up company he is envisioning. And this is where My Year Abroad gets its title: a rapidly accelerating trip to see a host of characters important for Pong's success, but the characters and the relationships become convoluted and not richly developed. My Year Abroad is structured into two distinct and very different plots: 1)Tiller's trip throughout China with Pong and his retinue; and 2) his romance with Val and her son. Alternating between the two locales and different dramas, Tiller is always the narrator processing both his adventure and his need for family. In the portrayal of the character Tiller, for this reviewer there isn't the psychological penetration and skewering of motives I found in Chang-rae's other novels. Tiller is lost, mostly from parental abandonment, but the angst and utter rudderless nature of his quest for meaning in life is not developed during the first half of this narrative. Yes, early on we discover his unfortunate family circumstances, but the secrets and lies--the things unsaid--are not adequately touched upon until the second half. His biracial identity also seems vaguely developed although his trip to Asia and Pong's immigrant experience intertwine. What results is a little too much going on within each plot without the essential "why" being answered, or at least suggested. Yes, Tiller needs family but is Pong a father-surrogate and is the venture doomed to fail? Is Val a substitute for a mother figure and the little boy his alter ego? Or not? A few parallel scenes from his past--much more unspooled than the shadows given to the reader--are sorely needed. I truly appreciate the skill with which Lee writes, but the story didn’t ever capture me until the last 100 pages (of over 600). Lee's vivid prose is lyrical, bordering on Shakespearean, and a wonder to behold at times. During a sex scene with Nenita in chapter 15, Lee writes: "Do something lovely and filthy to each other, all the better. If only one of us got to climax come or even neither, so that there was no discrete beginning or end to the want and we were acting out the middle of the story, over and over and over. Every notation becoming the pleasure, continually accruing an unending sentence." Unfortunately for this reader, the prose did not reach that climax neatly-- lean and clean--but seemed like there was no discrete beginning or end, but endless sentences with little momentum moving the action forward until the last section. By that time it was too late--all the drama packed in so tightly, that this reader was wondering: why didn't Lee structure the climax earlier and with more even pacing? I first posted this review in New York Journal of Books on February 2, 2021 https://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mitch Loflin

    Without a doubt one of my favorite books I’ve ever read. Especially during a time when people can’t or shouldn’t really “do things” this was just such an adventure. The vibe to me is very international-Inherent-Vice-as-Bildungsroman, and I just fell in love with all the jetsetting and mayhem and the liveliness of everything in this book, and it never for a second lost my attention (even though it is in fact very long!). Also these characters! The closeness I feel to Tiller now - and the fascinati Without a doubt one of my favorite books I’ve ever read. Especially during a time when people can’t or shouldn’t really “do things” this was just such an adventure. The vibe to me is very international-Inherent-Vice-as-Bildungsroman, and I just fell in love with all the jetsetting and mayhem and the liveliness of everything in this book, and it never for a second lost my attention (even though it is in fact very long!). Also these characters! The closeness I feel to Tiller now - and the fascination I have with his relationships with Val, and Victor Jr., and above all Pong Lou - is just too much. It’s too much!!! So glad that I read it, gutted that it’s over, dying for just another 500 pages at LEAST.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jill Reads

    “My Year Abroad” is on every “anticipated books of 2021” list. And for good reason. It’s takes off like a rocket ship from the first few pages. And we’re left wanting to follow 20-year-old Tiller on his amazing, yet “unendurable travels.” The book has two tracks that intermix throughout. It’s about the life of Tiller Bardman – before and after the lesson. The post-lesson opening scene is in a Hong Kong airport food court. Tiller is returning to the U.S. from a harrowing journey. (His year abroad). “My Year Abroad” is on every “anticipated books of 2021” list. And for good reason. It’s takes off like a rocket ship from the first few pages. And we’re left wanting to follow 20-year-old Tiller on his amazing, yet “unendurable travels.” The book has two tracks that intermix throughout. It’s about the life of Tiller Bardman – before and after the lesson. The post-lesson opening scene is in a Hong Kong airport food court. Tiller is returning to the U.S. from a harrowing journey. (His year abroad). And he meets 30-something Val who's returning to the U.S., as well, after her own wild stint. Turns out Val and “Veej” (her son) are in a bind and entering the Witness Protection program after ratting out a crazy ex. So Tiller moves in with them as sort of a protector, young lover and father figure to Victor. He’s never wanted to be responsible, but suddenly he takes on that role, not worrying too much about what the future might bring. The other track is about Tiller’s story before and after the lesson. He’s a lackadaisical fellow, as adaptable as they come. Raised mostly by a single dad, Tiller has abandonment issues so he’s easily drawn to people. That’s why he quickly hitches himself to an older, enigmatic entrepreneur friend, Pong, who Tiller meets randomly as a caddy for a golf foursome. As it turns out, Pong is an immigrant with an amazing drive. He’s enterprising, capable and connected. He has everything Tiller doesn’t have: gumption, energy and confidence. So Tiller rides coattails all the way to Asia, as a sort of protégé to Pong. After all, travel across Asia with a savvy businessman seems way more appealing than his original plan: a semester study abroad program for his private liberal arts college. But does he make the right decision? From the get-go, Tiller tells us that he knows about horrifying things, things that will break you. We worry about him, and are scared for him as well as the people he loves. And despite the crazy and sometimes horrendous things that happen to Tiller during his year abroad, he is able to tap into his hidden talents. He chooses to remain a positive, happy, glass half-full person. "My Year Abroad" is so mysterious and hectic and meandering and perplexing and rewarding. I very much admire the ambitious way that it’s written and appreciate the rollercoaster ride of emotions. There’s humor, fear, sadness, shock and a lot of hunger (because Lee writes abundantly about food throughout). It will likely win a bevy of awards, and it’s one that I’ll want to revisit over and over. (Especially now that I know how it ends). Special thanks to Riverhead Books for the advanced readers copy, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I also purchased the 16.5-hour audiobook and give five shining stars to the narrator, Lawrence Kao. Just WOW.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Queralt✨

    3.5 stars There is something about literary fiction that doesn't click with me. Lee writes a modern bildungsroman in which Tiller, a university student who is 1/8 Asian, relates how he met Pong, a Chinese immigrant and entrepreneur. Pong is a charismatic dude who makes everyone feel warm inside, he sees what people can do even if they cannot see it in themselves. And this is how Pong decided to make Tiller, a part-time worker at a golf club, his associate in a venture that will take them both to 3.5 stars There is something about literary fiction that doesn't click with me. Lee writes a modern bildungsroman in which Tiller, a university student who is 1/8 Asian, relates how he met Pong, a Chinese immigrant and entrepreneur. Pong is a charismatic dude who makes everyone feel warm inside, he sees what people can do even if they cannot see it in themselves. And this is how Pong decided to make Tiller, a part-time worker at a golf club, his associate in a venture that will take them both to Asia where things get weird, confusing, and sometimes nauseating (a scene with a character named Nenita almost made me barf). The book also explores Tiller's current life back in the US, where he lives with his partner Val and her son VeeJ. Now, this book is weird. I picked it up because I've lived abroad and I know 'coming back' always has you in this conflicting place where your closed ones remember who you were but they don't know who you are, and the end of the day, you don't know either. I thought the book would be about this: a cool trip, cool experiences, weird come back. Hell, I was wrong. This was a slow book. 40% is just an in detail introduction of the characters and the context (which is SLOW, but I loved?), the following 60% is just bizarre. Yet, it spoke to me? Most of it was just weird, but part of it had me sometimes in tears, sometimes screaming "dang, I feel attacked right now?" Do I recommend this book? I don't know. It's a long book and it felt like I spent ages reading it, but I will think about a few bits of it a lot in the future. So, if you like literary fiction, coming of age novels, quirky writing, and are prepared to be surprised - go for it. Now, bits that I liked: - "I can see now, if not understanding it then, how those constant movements and activities were her way of dealing with the shadows that were creeping up on her." - "I couldn’t help but wonder if she also sometimes drank too much, or worked too hard, or pushed herself some other way, because there was nothing else to do." - "In stories, the endings are ones we can handle, even if they aren’t so happy, because they let you linger, they let you go on, sustaining you with morsels of wonder and hope. But when you have to say goodbye to the person you love—and it is a person, it’s not the same with an object or idea—bid that true and final goodbye, and I mean final final final, it’s the saddest, most startling thing. Utter desolation. Okay. It’s when the goodbye is one-sided that trouble buds, maybe flowering eternal."

  16. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    My Year Abroad is an unusual coming of age story. Tiller Bardaman, age 20, grew up in a suburb of Dunbar, New Jersey (an enclave that strongly resembles Princeton). He is a vulnerable youth of Asian- European ancestry. Tiller's father, Clark, raised him after his mother left when Tiller was very young. At the book’s start, Tiller works as a caddy at a Dunbar Golf Club, earning money for a typical year of study abroad, when he meets Pong, a Chinese- American entrepreneur. Pong takes Tiller under My Year Abroad is an unusual coming of age story. Tiller Bardaman, age 20, grew up in a suburb of Dunbar, New Jersey (an enclave that strongly resembles Princeton). He is a vulnerable youth of Asian- European ancestry. Tiller's father, Clark, raised him after his mother left when Tiller was very young. At the book’s start, Tiller works as a caddy at a Dunbar Golf Club, earning money for a typical year of study abroad, when he meets Pong, a Chinese- American entrepreneur. Pong takes Tiller under his wing, wines and dines him, and convinces him to work for him, marketing Elixir, an Indonesian health- drink that he claims can cure most ailments. Pong brings Tiller with him to Asia to meet, party, and sell to the wealthy elite. Pong’s back story is one of the most interesting segments of the book. His parents were members of China’s artistic elite, painters who taught at China’s most prestigious art Institute. His parents met their demise during the Cultural Revolution. Lee vividly describes how this trauma and his later experience demise as an immigrant to the US are crucial to understanding his character. The book has two alternating storylines. Tiller describes his time in Asia, which is followed by his life in a working-class New Jersey town with his older girlfriend Val and her eight-year-old son, who are in witness- protection. Chang- Rae Lee is a skilled writer who makes all of these disparate elements mesh into a subtle engaging work of fiction.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Joann Im

    A humorous over the top yet poignant work from the brilliant Chang-Rae Lee swept us with another unique story that examines the human conditions. Tiller is an average American college student with minimal aspirations where Pong is a larger-than-life Chinese American entrepreneur. With a twist of fate, Tiller and Pong meets. Pong intrigued with Tiller takes him under his wing and takes him on rollicking trips across Asia providing a series of extreme and eye-opening experiences that would transfo A humorous over the top yet poignant work from the brilliant Chang-Rae Lee swept us with another unique story that examines the human conditions. Tiller is an average American college student with minimal aspirations where Pong is a larger-than-life Chinese American entrepreneur. With a twist of fate, Tiller and Pong meets. Pong intrigued with Tiller takes him under his wing and takes him on rollicking trips across Asia providing a series of extreme and eye-opening experiences that would transform him and his view of the world forever. There is a reason why I've been a longtime fan of Chang-Rae Lee's works over the years. Chang-Rae Lee is a masterful storyteller. He is unafraid to showcase the vulnerability and the provocative in the themes of his stories through his ability as a writer in providing honest portrayal of humanity. The writing style of this novel is an alternating timeline between Tiller's time abroad and his domestic life a year after. The quiet and the slow pacing of this novel was a necessity in feeling lost and desolate with Tiller and experiencing the growth and the wisdom in his life. It was in the details and the in-between the lines that evoked such strong emotions that left a lingering affect. Tiller does experience grand adventures and events, but highlighting the everyday small and the mundane tasks captured a moment of clarity and resonance in the most intimate way. There were many moments of myself pondering and appreciating these moving lines of beauty yet somber that mirrors life. Chang-Rae Lee caters and places emphasis and meaning to each text without waste. That is an epitome of a gifted wordsmith. The strong character development was crafted superbly. There were many characters introduced in this novel but the author's meticulous approach created distinct voices that added depth and colors into each character and to the plot. The complexities of these characters were never simply black or white. The flawed and the so-called antagonist characters were just another extension and examination of the human condition. The intricacies within this story build complex layers that seamlessly punches you with thought-provoking commentaries on capitalism, identity, parenthood, power, cultures and many more. I experienced breath-stopping, heart-piercing and heartfelt moments from this read. A profound and keen observant novel that is full of spirit and humor and a sincere story about love and belonging. Reading Chang-Rae Lee's books are always an honor and provides a sense of gratitude for books like this are the engine that continues my love for reading. Thank you to NetGalley and Riverhead Books for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cherise Wolas

    I've loved Lee's other novels, and this one is exuberant, overflowing, baggy, and wearying. The writing is witty and word-drunk, but at about page 200, I found myself only partly engaged. There are two main narratives: the present-day, where 20-year-old Tiller Bardmon -- one-eighth Asian and otherwise white, a rising junior at a prestigious liberal arts college, from a privileged suburb of little diversity, where he lived with his single father, his mother having disappeared from family life --m I've loved Lee's other novels, and this one is exuberant, overflowing, baggy, and wearying. The writing is witty and word-drunk, but at about page 200, I found myself only partly engaged. There are two main narratives: the present-day, where 20-year-old Tiller Bardmon -- one-eighth Asian and otherwise white, a rising junior at a prestigious liberal arts college, from a privileged suburb of little diversity, where he lived with his single father, his mother having disappeared from family life --meets Val and her 8 year old son, Vic Jr. at a food court in the Hong Kong airport as he travels back home after a harrowing overseas expedition with Chinese businessman Pong Lou, whom Tiller met golf caddying for Pong in the summer. Pong is a chemist for a pharmaceutical giant, who has various partners and owns/has invested in yogurt places and hot dog places and is working on many other projects, including the development of a premium elixir that can be modified to suit each consumer and may extend life. When we meet Tiller, Val, and Vic Jr., they have already returned to the US, and are living together in Stagno, where Witness Protection has placed Val and her kid, after she informed on her husband. The second narrative, in the past, is Tiller's harrowing overseas expedition, when he accompanied Pong on a junket to China to raise money for his elixir. Tiller plays the role of newcomer to whom all must be explained, thereby educating the reader on a wide range of topics and themes, and there are many, a few among them include identity, the global economy based on the fulfilling of desires and appetites that exploit race and national borders, the inequities in the world, the nature of modern-day multiracial suburbs, and perhaps, happiness. The too-muchness of the novel finally overwhelmed me.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Wisniewski

    Even though it is early in the year I am certain that I will consider this one of my favorite books of the year. This story is told mainly from the point of view of Tiller, a 20-year old college kid who has already had his share of tragedies but still kept his positive attitude. The story is told in both the present and past tense passing from one to another seamlessly. Through those transitions you learn about the important people in his life - Pong, Val, Victor Jr and his dad. I learned to lov Even though it is early in the year I am certain that I will consider this one of my favorite books of the year. This story is told mainly from the point of view of Tiller, a 20-year old college kid who has already had his share of tragedies but still kept his positive attitude. The story is told in both the present and past tense passing from one to another seamlessly. Through those transitions you learn about the important people in his life - Pong, Val, Victor Jr and his dad. I learned to love each of them in time including both the good and bad as no one is all good. Mostly, though I became invested in Tiller as he experienced a life transforming year and, even though I have finished the book, I find myself thinking about what might be next for him. Chang-rae Lee's writing is beautiful and allows you to travel even in this pandemic year. I highly recommend this for anyone who is wanting to be in a different time/place as this book will transport you..

  20. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    WOW, full review to come.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    I don’t know what to say about this book other than it meanders. The first 100 pages make you think there is going to be a big reveal and you keep reading to see what that is. It never really happens though. The main character is abandoned by his mother at a young age and has a very superficial relationship with his father. When he meets Pong a seemingly successful Chinese American businessman who takes him under his wing and to China on a trip the protagonist is clearly searching for something I don’t know what to say about this book other than it meanders. The first 100 pages make you think there is going to be a big reveal and you keep reading to see what that is. It never really happens though. The main character is abandoned by his mother at a young age and has a very superficial relationship with his father. When he meets Pong a seemingly successful Chinese American businessman who takes him under his wing and to China on a trip the protagonist is clearly searching for something more than an apprenticeship. He becomes very attached to Pong and looks up to him in many ways. This is only one half of the story however. The other half is about the main characters time with his girlfriend whom for various reasons in in the witness protection program. He lives with her and her son. The deeper meaning of this part of the story is superficial at best. Honesty it was hard to take this story line seriously after a while. Without any spoilers I will say this: the writing is witty and interesting. However, there are times when the story is not believable and you simply end up questioning why you want to read to the end. I wound up finishing it but considered giving up. I gave this two stars because of the quality of the writing not for the plot or the character development. Both of which are lacking. This is an easy but long book that I am not sure I can recommend you spend your valuable reading time on. I really wanted to like this. I really did. It just didn’t work for me.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Emi Bevacqua

    I've been reading Chang-rae Lee for years, I've read all his books but one, and I admire his progression through different writing genres and styles; My Year Abroad seems to incorporate all of them. Main character Tiller Bardmon is in his early 20s, living in witness protection with his girlfriend in her 30s Val, and her 8-yr old son Victor Jr. They live in a place he refers to as Stagno, as in stagnant, nothing like the rarified town of Dunbar, New Jersey where he grew up not too far away, and I've been reading Chang-rae Lee for years, I've read all his books but one, and I admire his progression through different writing genres and styles; My Year Abroad seems to incorporate all of them. Main character Tiller Bardmon is in his early 20s, living in witness protection with his girlfriend in her 30s Val, and her 8-yr old son Victor Jr. They live in a place he refers to as Stagno, as in stagnant, nothing like the rarified town of Dunbar, New Jersey where he grew up not too far away, and where his father Clark presumably remains. The couple met cute at a food court at Hong Kong International Airport when her credit card was rejected. The Stagno storyline incorporates romance, mystery, psychological drama, parenting, food, and a lot of foreshadowy references to Tiller's year abroad. Not the university-related time abroad his dad thinks he's spending in Europe, but the time abroad he actually experienced in Asia jet-setting and then slave-laboring thanks to an enticing entrepreneurial employer/father figure named Pong. The story goes back and forth between suburban Stagno and raucous Asia, a mile a minute. The coincidences I like but find a bit over the top, that Val and Tiller are both 1/8 Asian, that Tiller and Victor Jr both have the same super-rare, hyper-sensitive sense of taste. I love the themes of assimilation and cultural identity, the importance of quasi-parent figures (including teachers), but had a hard time with the extreme torture aspects Tiller survives on his year abroad.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    tbh have not made up my mind about this one yet. on a language and structural level, it’s well written but it wasn’t a fun read all the way through per se. it’s just... really really weird. like really weird. it’s like a weird vivid pipe dream. the underlying conceit is SENSATION—the most vivid extreme of every kind of sensation. food, sex, etc. it goes without saying that sensation ad absurdum is a gut punch—a constant maximalist experience. it’s about having and cultivating “taste,” and how a tbh have not made up my mind about this one yet. on a language and structural level, it’s well written but it wasn’t a fun read all the way through per se. it’s just... really really weird. like really weird. it’s like a weird vivid pipe dream. the underlying conceit is SENSATION—the most vivid extreme of every kind of sensation. food, sex, etc. it goes without saying that sensation ad absurdum is a gut punch—a constant maximalist experience. it’s about having and cultivating “taste,” and how a taste for life can be exuberant but excess can also be dangerous, even deadly

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kim McGee

    What a wild and crazy book that goes from soft lovable moments to insane gangster-like situations in Asia. Tiller is a likable 20-year-old who happens to be befriended by a wealthy businessman who is developing a wonder drink and he invites Tiller to Asia to promote it. This leads to a race around Asia involving late nights, lots of alcohol, and other crazy situations and it isn't too long before Tiller realizes he is in over his head as is his mentor Pong. The tandem story is when Tiller comes What a wild and crazy book that goes from soft lovable moments to insane gangster-like situations in Asia. Tiller is a likable 20-year-old who happens to be befriended by a wealthy businessman who is developing a wonder drink and he invites Tiller to Asia to promote it. This leads to a race around Asia involving late nights, lots of alcohol, and other crazy situations and it isn't too long before Tiller realizes he is in over his head as is his mentor Pong. The tandem story is when Tiller comes home and meets Val and her young son who are on the run and part of the witness protection program. Val and Tiller have a mutually secretive relationship but it is easy to see how he dotes on Val's young son. Each will have to trust the other with more of their story and even though we can't always see the thread that holds these stories together, the author does a great job of tying up the loose ends. It is a story of love and connection. The writing style is nice and easy with just enough humor that you can't help liking Tiller while you are shaking your head at his lack of good judgment. My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kathy (Bermudaonion)

    3.5 stars This book is different from any I’ve read and it’s kind of hard to describe. Tiller, a young man from an upper middle class suburb, becomes entangled with Pong a man who makes his living in some questionable ways. Tiller travels to the far east with Pong for his “year abroad” and their relationship comes to a disturbing end. On his way back to the US, Tiller meets a young woman (who’s in witness protection) and her son and begins an odd relationship with them. The writing in MY YEAR ABRO 3.5 stars This book is different from any I’ve read and it’s kind of hard to describe. Tiller, a young man from an upper middle class suburb, becomes entangled with Pong a man who makes his living in some questionable ways. Tiller travels to the far east with Pong for his “year abroad” and their relationship comes to a disturbing end. On his way back to the US, Tiller meets a young woman (who’s in witness protection) and her son and begins an odd relationship with them. The writing in MY YEAR ABROAD was fine but the story was just a little too fantastical for me. I liked Tiller but was often confused by his decisions. There were entertaining moments in the book and I never really lost interest but, for me, it was too long.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Gregory Duke

    2.5 Ari Levine's review sums up the pros and cons of Chang-rae Lee's mess of a novel, so there is no reason for me to waste words. 2.5 Ari Levine's review sums up the pros and cons of Chang-rae Lee's mess of a novel, so there is no reason for me to waste words.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Thomas

    Quiet and powerful writing, great depth of characters, plot a little slow in places. Great book to recommend to Goldfinch fans.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Zibby Owens

    Tiller is an average American college student, and Pong Lou is a Chinese American entrepreneur who takes Tiller under his wing. As they travel across Asia, Tiller transforms from a young man into a protégé after a series of extreme experiences that alter his view of the world, of Pong, and himself. The book alternates between a dual timeline - Tiller's time abroad and his life after the trip. "My Year Abroad" is a story about a young American boy on an unusual Asian adventure. The book touches o Tiller is an average American college student, and Pong Lou is a Chinese American entrepreneur who takes Tiller under his wing. As they travel across Asia, Tiller transforms from a young man into a protégé after a series of extreme experiences that alter his view of the world, of Pong, and himself. The book alternates between a dual timeline - Tiller's time abroad and his life after the trip. "My Year Abroad" is a story about a young American boy on an unusual Asian adventure. The book touches on many different topics like Western attitudes, Eastern stereotypes, capitalism, trade, mental health, and parenthood. There's a wide range of characters, locales, and situations Tiller faces. The book is packed with unusual twists and turns. To listen to my interview with the author, go to my podcast at: https://zibbyowens.com/transcript/cha...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Hugh Carter

    The first 300 pages felt like the longest and wildest shaggy dog story ever. The writing was super kinetic and the plot was all over the place in the best way possible. Flipping from hilarious to gutting even within the same sentence. Here he is, worried that someone close to him was going to hurt themself: "I've been drifting around the house ... cataloguing the numerous ready-made options for self-harm. Domesticity is a chamber of horrors, looked at in a certain way." So many gems like this. But The first 300 pages felt like the longest and wildest shaggy dog story ever. The writing was super kinetic and the plot was all over the place in the best way possible. Flipping from hilarious to gutting even within the same sentence. Here he is, worried that someone close to him was going to hurt themself: "I've been drifting around the house ... cataloguing the numerous ready-made options for self-harm. Domesticity is a chamber of horrors, looked at in a certain way." So many gems like this. But 475 pages is just too much. So many digressions and side-adventures that I lost interest in the main story. By the end I was so fatigued I could barely concentrate on it. I still recommend it. Just take it slow

  30. 5 out of 5

    Theo Yurevitch

    Bonkers. Delicious.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.