by Gloria M (San Jose): I vaguely remember all the great reviews and awards Rachel Khong received back in 2017 for her first published novel, “Goodbye, Vitamin” and thinking I should add it to my TBR list, which somehow never actually happened (which I totally regret-and it’s on there now!) but I definitely was thrilled to get a free copy of “Real Americans” (thank you to Penguin Random House.)

I devoured this one in two days-which meant I did not pay much attention to real life-but, that’s fine because it was so worth it. On the basic level it is a tale of Lily Chen, a 22 year old unpaid intern in New York City who meets Matthew, a wealthy heir to a pharmaceutical fortune. One of the most memorable quotes is Lily saying “More than I love you, I wanted him to say that he knew me. Who else did?” The expertly written and crafted tale shares their journey to love, with both obstacles and moments of joy, but also goes much, much further than that.

It includes multiple generations, with deep dives into Lily’s parents-especially her mother , May and her son, Nick. May preferred her career in biology to her role as a mother, and this understandably resulted in many difficulties for Lily. But, a secret will soon be revealed that changes everyone’s lives and raises relevant questions about nurture vs. nature, and the whole concept of family (including creating your own family outside of birth ties.) Throw in the issues of race and class and ethics and Khong has produced a modern classic.

I highly recommend this book to all who love family stories and literary works of art!