Monthly Archives: September 2018

“Crazy Rich Asians” by Kevin Kwan

crazyrichasiansCrazy Rich Asians is the Cinderella story of Rachel Chu, a 28-year-old economics professor at New York University, who has been happily dating Nick Young, a 32-year-old History professor at NYU, for the past two years. Nick tells Rachel that his childhood best friend is getting married over the summer, he plans on flying back home to Singapore for the wedding, and he wants her to accompany him. But, this raises questions. Does an international trip to meet family mean something serious for the relationship? Rachel is a bit anxious, but ultimately agrees. As an economist, Rachel knows Singapore has one of the highest concentrations of wealth in the world, and she is excited to see the island up close with Nick as her guide. Rachel knows nothing about Nick’s family and is nervous about what to expect. As Rachel fishes for details about them, Nick clams up.

Rachel is shocked to learn that not only is the wedding the upper-crust social event of the year, but Nick is Singapore’s most eligible bachelor.  Nick’s mother, Eleanor, expects Nick to return to Singapore and marry a woman from his own milieu. As the potential heir to a massive fortune—and a member of one of most mysterious, wealthy, and powerful families in Asia—Nick should only be dating women in their social circle. That is, he should absolutely not be dating some unheard-of woman from New York. Despite knowing nothing about Rachel, Eleanor is certain Nick’s girlfriend is a gold digger after Nick’s fortune. Eleanor decides to take matters into her own hands, hiring a private investigator to conduct a full background check on Rachel and her family and enlisting her best friends and their daughters to help sabotage her son’s relationship.  This, from the book, sums it up:  “To Eleanor, every single person occupied a specific space in the elaborately constructed social universe in her mind. Like most of the women in her crowd, Eleanor could meet another Asian anywhere in the world…and within thirty seconds of learning their name and where they lived, she would implement her social algorithm and calculate precisely where they stood in her constellation based on who their family was, who else they were related to, what their approximate net worth might be, how the fortune was derived, and what family scandals might have occurred within the past fifty years.”

The genre is a romantic comedy with colorful characters and humorous situations.  Rachel is mostly trying to survive the competitive, judgmental, and entitled women that orbit the social circle.  It’s a clash of snobbish Old World tradition and socially fluid American individualism.  The book is now a movie of the same name.

Watch Bryan on WZZM Channel 13’s “My West Michigan” morning show at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, October 1.  Join The Book Nook’s monthly book club at 6:00 p.m., Wednesday, October 3 to discuss Crazy Rich Asians at the Book Nook & Java Shop in Downtown Montague with refreshments, snacks, beverages, and camaraderie; of course, everyone is welcome. The Club meets monthly all year long.  Get 20% off the Book Club’s book selection all month, too.

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“Midnight at the Great Ideas Bookstore” by Matthew Sullivan

midnight

I love bookstores so any book about a bookstore gets my attention.  The Bright Ideas Bookstore is a fictional bookstore in Denver loosely based on the Tattered Cover bookstore in Denver’s historic LoDo district where the author used to work.

The central character is 30-year-old Lydia Smith who loves her job at the Bright Ideas Bookstore – the employees and regular customers bond to form a loose family.  The community is shaken when one of the regular customers, Joey Molina, hangs himself with a belt among the stacks at the store at midnight without a suicide note.  Even more disturbing is that he bequeathed his meager belongings to Lydia.  She is led to unravel the puzzle of his last days when she discovers Joey has left coded messages to her in pages of his books.  And why did Joey have a picture in his pocket of Lydia’s 10th birthday party?

When a childhood friend, Raj Patel, reappears in Lydia’s life she revisits an unsolved 20-year-old tragedy.  Causing a media frenzy at the time, the Hammerman, who, while Lydia was on a sleepover as a child, brutally killed her friend and her friend’s family with a hammer, leaving Lydia alive, hiding under the sink. The Hammerman was never caught, and Lydia seeks answers from the now-retired detective who handled the case, but she may not want to hear what he has to say. Turns out he always suspected her father was the killer but was stopped from pursuing that path, even in the face of some compelling evidence, and he’s never let go of his suspicion. After all, why did the killer let Lydia live after killing a 10-year-old girl and her parents?

 

The book is filled with quirky characters and the descriptions of the store and surroundings are vivid. The plot is full of surprises and the final resolution to the story is packed with coincidences that strain credulity, but this creative and intricately plotted mystery still largely satisfies.

Watch Bryan on WZZM Channel 13’s “My West Michigan” morning show at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, September 6.  Join The Book Nook’s monthly book club at 6:00 p.m., Wednesday, September 5 to discuss Midnight at the Great Ideas Bookstore at the Book Nook & Java Shop in Downtown Montague with refreshments, snacks, beverages, and camaraderie; of course, everyone is welcome. The Club meets monthly all year long.  Get 20% off the Book Club’s book selection all month, too.

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