When Marco Polo went to China 700 years ago, he discovered locals eating pasta. Maya Li, the young Chinese-American woman who narrates Andrea Louie’s Moon Cakes, isn’t quite so lucky when she visits her ancestral homeland; she discovers only her undigested past. The painful emotional revelations that come to Maya amid the crowds, temples, and her comical fellow tourists don’t give much dramatic resolution to this resolutely undramatic story. But that’s okay. What works best here is precisely the unassuming ordinariness of Maya and her gentle anecdotal narrative, meandering through a happy Ohio childhood interrupted by the sudden death of her companionable father, the increasing remoteness of her beautiful mother, the slow yuppification of her adored older sister, her passive relationships with a couple of college boyfriends, and some postgraduate aimlessness in New York City. Maya’s naive self-absorption sometimes leaves her up to her ears in ”Dear Diary” material, but it’s the book’s modest charm and honesty that stay with you. B
Genre: Fiction; Author: Andrea Louie; Publisher: One World
Posted August 25 1995 — 12:00 AM EDT
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