Real Americans

Posted June 5, 2024 by Carole in Reviews / 2 Comments

I received this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Real AmericansReal Americans by Rachel Khong
Narrator: Louisa Zhu, Eric Yang, Eunice Wong
Published by Knopf, Penguin Random House Audio on April 30, 2024
Genres: Fiction / Asian American
Length: 14 hours 40 minutes
Pages: 416
Format: ARC, Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Amazon | Audible | B&N | Kobo |

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER READ WITH JENNA’S MAY BOOK CLUB PICK • From the award-winning author of Goodbye, Vitamin: How far would you go to shape your own destiny? An exhilarating novel of American identity that spans three generations in one family and asks: What makes us who we are? And how inevitable are our futures? 

"Mesmerizing"—Brit Bennett • "A page turner.”—Ha Jin • “Gorgeous, heartfelt, soaring, philosophical and deft"—Andrew Sean Greer • "Traverses time with verve and feeling."—Raven Leilani

Real Americans begins on the precipice of Y2K in New York City, when twenty-two-year-old Lily Chen, an unpaid intern at a slick media company, meets Matthew. Matthew is everything Lily is not: easygoing and effortlessly attractive, a native East Coaster, and, most notably, heir to a vast pharmaceutical empire. Lily couldn't be more different: flat-broke, raised in Tampa, the only child of scientists who fled Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Despite all this, Lily and Matthew fall in love.

In 2021, fifteen-year-old Nick Chen has never felt like he belonged on the isolated Washington island where he lives with his single mother, Lily. He can't shake the sense she's hiding something. When Nick sets out to find his biological father, the journey threatens to raise more questions than it provides answers.

In immersive, moving prose, Rachel Khong weaves a profound tale of class and striving, race and visibility, and family and inheritance—a story of trust, forgiveness, and finally coming home.

Exuberant and explosive, Real Americans is a social novel par excellence that asks: Are we destined, or made? And if we are made, who gets to do the making? Can our genetic past be overcome?

This was good. I had a bit of a rough start with this book but I am so glad that I kept reading. The story is told from 3 very different points of view from 3 generations. Lily’s story starts in the late 1990s and takes us through the first years of the new millennium. Her son, Nick’s story takes place in the 2020s and proved to be the highlight of the story for me. Mei’s point of view gave us the backstory needed to understand how this family came to live in America.

This book is told in three sections and almost reads like three stories that happen to feature the same group of characters. It was interesting to see how each of these characters dealt with the issues they faced. I was especially interested in how each of these characters saw their ethnicity and how their experiences differed. The story had a lot of interesting elements including a bit of magic which added a lot to the overall story.

I listened to the audiobook and thought that Louisa Zhu, Eric Yang, and Eunice Wong did a fantastic job with this story. Each narrator read a section of the book and I thought that each of them did a great job of capturing the essence of the characters. I thought that all three narrators had pleasant voices and complimented each other’s nicely. I felt like they were able to add just the right amount of emotion to their reading which added to my overall enjoyment.

I would recommend this book to others. This was a book that covered some important topics that made me think. I grew to care about this group of characters and hoped that things would work out for them in the end. I do hope to read more of this talented author’s work in the future.

I received a review copy of this book from Knopf and Penguin Random House Audio.

2 responses to “Real Americans

  1. I am glad I read your review so I have an idea of what to expect going in. I have been wanting to read it. This book has many themes that interest me. Thank you for sharing your review!