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  • Writer's pictureJulie Mackin

Finders Keepers

Can you really trust any narrators these days?

Yellowface by R.F. Kuang

Stars: 4.5

PopSugar 2024 Reading Challenge - #4 - A Book About a Writer 

52 Book Club Reading Challenge - #28 - Book with a Yellow Spine

So I’m feeling very much in my meta book era right now between Kuang, Horowitz, and Stevenson. The 4th wall is well and truly gone in the last few books I’ve read and each author has handled it perfectly for their specific work.

In Kuang’s novel, June Hayward is having dinner with her college friend, Althena Liu, who is a young literary popstar. Athena is on all the lists, she is winning all the prizes, making all the royalties. June’s first and only book is probably not going to make it to a second print run. Then, during that dinner, Athena chokes, dying in front of June. And June, well she takes Athena’s typed manuscript as a parting gift which she then turns into her own. A literary novel about the Chinese Labor Camps in World War I with multiple characters and rich in history, it is a tour de force and once June’s agent reads it, he sells it off to the highest bidder and June, now rebranded as Juniper Song, is the toast of the literary world. But how long can June keep up the charade without falling apart.

There is so much going on in the 317 pages of this book. A coworker and I were discussing the story and the emotions I felt changed page to page; Kuang took you on this roller coaster of a ride, making you feel one way and then blindsiding you and causing you to question everything you believed (I guess I’m also fully in my unreliable narrator phase as well). Add the book’s insights into the current state of publishing, with bookstagram, book tok, cultural appropriation and cancellations, and you have a novel that haunts you even after you’ve put it down.

I know I say this a lot, but I am a reader, but this is definitely one that you should put on your TBR. Even better if it was a book club book so you have people to talk about it with! 

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