Fiona and Jane

Jean Chen Ho
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About This Book

Who knows you better: you or your best friend? Close friends Fiona and Jane—or Jane and Fiona—are constant presences in each other’s lives, sometimes from afar, sometimes in each other’s faces. From childhood through early adulthood, the two Taiwanese American young women scramble though the obstacle courses of their lives, each negotiating complicated family circumstances and carrying the weight of secrets kept from them and secrets they keep from others. Both spend their childhood in southern California—Fiona after emigrating from Taiwan—in households shadowed by the specter of a father missing in one way or another. Adolescence and young adulthood propel the girls onto separate courses of education, employment, finances, and sexuality, but they never leave each other’s emotional orbit entirely. Presented in a series of short stories told from alternating perspectives, Fiona’s and Jane’s stories (story, really) recount the realities of a girlhood spent in league with someone else who “gets” you (for the most part). The duo’s coming-of-age saga is shot through with moments of clarity and understanding: realizing you are competitive with your best friend, realizing your mother knows (and knew) things, realizing you are not the only one with secrets. (Some realizations are fully articulated, some left for the reader to work out, a stylistic choice that intrudes at times.) Ho’s adept captures of childhood confusion, teenage angst, and adult malaise lend the stories a universality that is not undermined by her equally precise dissections of racial and sexual issues facing Fiona and Jane. The misogynistic dangers facing the girls as they stretch their high school wings in the gorgeous and nerve-wracking story “Go Slow” echo throughout the work as a whole, with a particularly resounding tone in the devastating precis, “Korean Boys I’ve Loved.” Readers will wish for a Fiona or Jane in their own lives. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.