Not To Be Overlooked
By Alicja Baranowska and Natalia Alvarez
Not To Be Overlooked introduces a variety of wonderful, but lesser-known books, to assist readers in finding their next great read. This week’s column covers a review of Catriona Silvey’s Meet Me in Another Life and Win Me Something by Kyle Lucia Wu.
Meet Me in Another Life by Catriona Silvey
Published by HarperVoyager, July 2021
Catriona Silvey’s Meet Me in Another Life is one of these books that will stay in my mind for a long while. I listened to it as an audiobook and I’m so glad I did. Kristin Atherton’s narration brings each and every life Thora and Santi lead throughout Meet Me in Another Life so amazingly. There are some books that work so wonderfully in the audio format, bringing the reader closer to the narrative and characters and this is definitely one of them. If you’re a fan of audiobooks, I’d recommend giving this one a try.
Thora and Santi meet in the city of Cologne again and again, their lives entangled, their futures always correlated. I loved how different and yet similar each life they had led was, their personalities forming and affecting another. The stars and their love for each other always united them even if they saw the world completely differently.
In many ways, Meet Me in Another Life touches upon many philosophical, psychological and even theological questions and topics and while I’m not the fan of the latter, it fits the story and characters completely. As a result, I loved how complex and interesting the story became, and how Meet Me in Another Life makes the reader re-evaluate all the choices and decisions they’ve made along their own journey. It’s a powerful story, and I would definitely recommend it to everyone.
I had my suspicions of where the story was going, but I absolutely loved the journey, the little changes you could see in each life, in each story, the whole narrative coming together through the cracks. Meet Me in Another Life is definitely a book I’ll be revisiting.
Win Me Something by Kyle Lucia Wu
Published by Tin House Books, November 2021
Win Me Something is a novel that may be slightly under the radar right now but could potentially become big in the next few months. It is a brand new coming of age novel published in early November through Tin House Books, about a young woman who asks: what kind of identity means you won't be ignored? This is author Kyle Lucia Wu’s debut novel, but already Win Me Something seems to be doing well amongst reviewers, creating buzz as an Indie Next Pick as well as a Best Book of Fall at Washington Post, Shondaland, NPR Books, Parade, LitHub, PureWow, Harper’s Bazaar, PopSugar, NYLON, and Good Housekeeping. Despite this, I have seen few readers discussing this book and hope this review will be the push they need to go out and pick up a copy!
Kyle introduces Willa Chen as a young 20-something who exists within the liminal spaces that so many are forced into. In her experience, identity is uniquely in-between but then, as a young biracial woman, she's used to living life in the margins. Willa grew up bouncing between her divorced parents’ new families, feeling too white with one and too Asian with the other, always being both ultra-visible and never truly seen. When she begins nannying for the Adriens’, an upper-class household in Tribeca, Willa is immediately seduced by everything they represent: money, stability, safety and belonging, after a childhood spent fighting for a spot in her parents' new families. As Bijou’s nanny, she spends her days cooking fancy meals, living in a penthouse apartment and getting to know Nathalie, Bijou’s banker mother, and Gabriel, her doctor father. Observing their attentiveness to Bijou, Willa imagines what it would have been like to have such unconditional love.
For Willa, the Adriens’ stability is more appealing than their wealth and as she settles into their routines, she considers herself a part of their family. But when overconfident and overeducated Ethan, Nathalie’s younger brother, arrives, Willa is forced to consider where she actually belongs. Told through a series of dated chapters in both Willa’s past while growing up and her present with the Adriens’, we get to understand just how much her new situation means to her. A novel grappling with Asian American identity, Willa finally learns that promise only blooms when you decide who you are.
The author truly has a way with words, carrying them across the page and into your heart with devastating clarity. I loved every minute of this book and hope it will continue to do well in the coming months so many others can love it as well.