BOOK REVIEW: JING-JING LEE – HOW WE DISAPPEARED

Today, it’s another review of a book on the Women’s Prize long-list! It’s How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee.

First things first, I don’t know if everyone knows but due to the Coronavirus, they are going to reveal the winner of the Women’s Prize in September but the shortlist will still be revealed on the 22nd April. Plenty more time to read the shortlist! But, first, what’s the book about? Here’s the synopsis:

Singapore, 1942. As Japanese troops sweep down Malaysia and into Singapore, a village is ransacked. Only three survivors remain, one of them a tiny child.

In a neighbouring village, seventeen-year-old Wang Di is bundled into the back of a troop carrier and shipped off to a Japanese military brothel. In the year 2000, her mind is still haunted by her experiences there, but she has long been silent about her memories of that time. It takes twelve-year-old Kevin, and the mumbled confession he overhears from his ailing grandmother, to set in motion a journey into the unknown to discover the truth.

Weaving together two timelines and two life-changing secrets, How We Disappeared is an evocative, profoundly moving and utterly dazzling novel heralding the arrival of a new literary star.

This is one of the books on the list that I didn’t know that much about and the paperback cover intrigued me as well as the story. To be honest, I didn’t really like this book. It’s a heartbreaking and important story to share but I just felt it could have been handled better. I found the structure didn’t help with the overall story of the novel and found it a bit confusing at times – it just needed a bit more coherence overall.

I loved the character Kevin as he goes on a journey to discover the truth about the families – the centre of the book, I suppose. But for me, the chapters went on for too long that they needed to be and I would have liked to have shorter chapters in some parts to keep the pace up for a while. It’s an important story to share but I was left a bit “meh?” when I finished it which is a shame because I really thought I’d enjoy this book.

Perhaps it’s because I’m reading Girl by Edna O’Brien at the same time that I didn’t like the book overall but I think it’s a good book for a long-list but I wanted more. But I’ve seen a lot of praise for it too so mixed reviews!

A short review as I’ve posted a lot in the last couple of days! Have you read How We Disappeared? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you,

Corey.

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