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Lucy Tan Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

What We Were Promised (2018) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Lucy Tan is an American author of fiction. She grew up in New Jersey. She has spent much of her life living in Shanghai and New York.

Tan attended New York University, which is where she graduated and received her B.A. She attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduated, receiving her M.F.A. and receiving the 2016 August Derleth Prize. Her writing has been published in Ploughshares and the Asia Literary Review. She was the winner of the Emerging Writers Contest in 2015.

Lucy Tan first became a published author with the release of her first full length fictional novel, What We Were Promised. It was released in 2018. The story focuses on the story of the Zhen family who decides to pull an inverted version of the American Dream. They move back to China after living in America and trying to make things meet for so long. But is China the answer, or will they regret their decision?

What We Were Promised is Lucy Tan’s first novel. The Zhen family has decided to go back to China and move away from the United States for good. You can’t blame them; they chased the idea of the American dream for years. It just didn’t work out and the Zhens decide that they would be better off on their old home continent of Asia.

They move into a very nice apartment in Shanghai. The Zhen family consists of Wei and Lina as well as their daughter, who is named Karen. The apartment is serviced and is the epitome of luxury. Together they join a community that is quite elite as well; the family now belongs to a selective community of professionals that have been Chinese born and Western educated.

Then one day a strange thing happens that threatens to delicately upset a balance. The Zhen family lives in the Lanson Suites in the eighth tower. While moving about one morning, Linda finds that something has gone missing. Or at least she thinks that it has; an ivory bracelet that she has had ever since childhood seems to be nowhere to be found.

Even though she is not sure, her doubt only adds to a growing wave of unease that has moved throughout the entire household. Things start to add up and the family enters a strange period of time. Wei works hard as a marketing strategist and ends up bowing under the pressure of his job and also feels guilty for not having a job that is more noble in its work.

Lina is also feeling pressure, but in a different way. She has a new luxurious life that is filled with leisure, but it’s also just as lonely as can be. Lina becomes a new type of person that is called a taitai in their culture. The modern name means basically that she is a house wife, a woman that is married and stays at home and also does not do any housework at all.

While she never has to lift a finger to do anything, Lina is not really feeling fulfilled. Her days are full of haunting and the circumstances around things that happened long ago in the past. Even though it was years ago, Lina cannot help but remember it all and reminisce. Her days are full of the anxiety that comes with her memories and her feelings about the past.

But what happened that Lina should be so obsessed with the past? Well, it may be much simpler than you might think as a reader. She cannot forget about her arranged marriage and the circumstances that happened around their wedding. Even though Lina was given to Wei, she had feelings for Qiang. Qiang is Wei’s brother and even though she felt for him she got married to Wei instead in the end and went along with the set marriage to the other brother.

Wei knows about Lina’s feelings, and they both try to hide what they are stressing about. Even though they do their best to put on a brave face, their housekeeper sees what they are going through. Sunny is a girl that works to take care of the home and doesn’t mind working hard. Even though she tries not to notice or seem like she is paying attention, she is aware of the struggles that this married couple faces.

Lina may be surprised when she finds out that Qiang has appeared once more. He resurfaced in Shanghai recently and now that he is in town, he’s brought a bit of trouble with him. He’s been on the run for years with a local gang, and now he’s returned to the same area of China. In doing so, his brother and his wife may just find out that they really need to come to terms with what happened in the past.

The secrets and feelings of the past still echo to this day, and no one involved has ever truly gotten over it. With wounds still needing to be healed, the family must confront the events of the past so that they can not only heal in the present but move on to the future too. Can Lina and her husband and his brother finally come to terms what happened and move on once and for all?

This book jumps all over the place and you too will feel like you’re going all over the world! Follow the Zhen family as they go from the suburbs in America to the totally changed futuristic city of Shanghai, where the Western educated and the English-speaking newly rich are the ones running the show. Post-Mao, China is a totally different place.

But are the Zhens different enough to adapt to it, or will they find that they miss home in the United States? Can Shanghai be as familiar to them and welcome them back, or will they find that they no longer have nothing in common with the place that they once called home?

Full of nuance and expertly written, Lucy Tan has penned a novel that you won’t want to put down anytime soon. Check it out and see what happens for yourself!

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