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Joan Is Okay
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
30 posts | 28 read | 42 to read
A witty, moving, piercingly insightful new novel about a marvelously complicated woman who can't be anyone but herself, from the award-winning author of Chemistry Joan is a thirtysomething ICU doctor at a busy New York City hospital. The daughter of Chinese parents who came to the United States to secure the American dream for their children, Joan is intensely devoted to her work, happily solitary, successful. She does look up sometimes and wonder where her true roots lie: at the hospital, where her white coat makes her feel needed, or with her family, who try to shape her life by their own cultural and social expectations. Once Joan and her brother, Fang, were established in their careers, her parents moved back to China, hoping to spend the rest of their lives in their homeland. But when Joan's father suddenly dies and her mother returns to America to reconnect with her children, a series of events sends Joan spiraling out of her comfort zone just as her hospital, her city, and the world are forced to reckon with a health crisis more devastating than anyone could have imagined. Deceptively spare yet quietly powerful, laced with sharp humor, Joan Is Okay touches on matters that feel deeply resonant: being Chinese-American right now; working in medicine at a high-stakes time; finding one's voice within a dominant culture; being a woman in a male-dominated workplace; and staying independent within a tight-knit family. But above all, it's a portrait of one remarkable woman so surprising that you can't get her out of your head.
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Leftcoastzen
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
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Pickpick

The wonderful review @batsy posted reminded me to get to this book.Joan is a doctor, she loves her work , but as a single woman, most who know her have better ideas. Her brother thinks she should abandon NYC & have a quiet private practice in the suburbs. Even her neighbor takes it upon himself to upgrade her apartment. Joan can only be Joan a character I found delightful.If Joan were a man , everyone would give him kudos for dedication to career!

Hooked_on_books I really identified with this book! 2mo
batsy I'm so glad you enjoyed it ❤️ And yes, the narrative would be so different for a man! 2mo
BarbaraBB Wonderful review. I have been wanting to read it too since @batsy ‘s review (edited) 2mo
Leftcoastzen @BarbaraBB Joan has a wonderful voice, I would bet you would like it 2mo
BarbaraBB I guess so too. Thanks for the heads-up 2mo
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Addison_Reads
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
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If you like more plot based books then this one is not for you. But if you enjoy reading about the thoughts of quirky characters with an insane perception of the world around them, Joan is definitely for you.

I truly enjoyed living inside her mind and seeing the world through her eyes. Her dry wit and commentary was refreshing and enlightening.

BarkingMadRead This is on my list for next year, a friend recommended it! 2mo
squirrelbrain I really want to read this one…. 2mo
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Ruthiella I‘ll probably only read it if it makes the shortlist. I liked but didn‘t love 2mo
BarbaraBB It sounds so good! Thanks for this review!! 2mo
Megabooks This was a low pick for me. 2mo
Chelsea.Poole I think I'll give this one a shot on audio. 2mo
Hooked_on_books I loved this book! 2mo
sarahbarnes Yes! This sounds right up my alley! Great review. 2mo
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batsy
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
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Joan, the Chinese-American ICU doctor in her thirties, wonders if the quest for wellness is something like Loch Ness, "a seemingly placid lake with an unknowable monster hiding inside". That astute psychological insight also sums up this novel: an even-tempered narration by its introverted, thoughtful protagonist—probably seen as eccentric by others—that has so much more brewing underneath: identity, gender norms, race relations, work & leisure,

batsy & the most stirring aspect: the relationship to one's parents or the people who raised you. Just like in Chemistry, Wang manages to avoid falling into indulgent sentimentality, but still drops tender, heartbreaking truth bombs throughout about the fraught nature of attempting to know the people in your family as their own persons, & in relation to you. I appreciate her writing & style a lot & look forward to her future books with pleasure. 2mo
batsy I keep thinking of it as a companion book to Sayaka Murata's Convenience Store Woman & Mieko Kawakami's All the Lovers in the Night. The narrators are different in terms of social position, geographical location, & temperament, but it feels like these books are in conversation in terms of painting a portrait of a woman of a certain age, alone, secure in their independence & not in step with society's expectations. #spinterlit roundtable. #TOB2023 2mo
kspenmoll Thank you for your in depth review. I will add this to my TBR. 2mo
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Aimeesue Fabulous review! Thanks 2mo
sarahbarnes Great review! This sounds very intriguing. 2mo
Suet624 I had to screenshot your comments about other books this book reminds you of. For some reason I have neglected to read them and it‘s time I did. (edited) 2mo
batsy @kspenmoll @Aimeesue Thank you for reading 💜 2mo
batsy @sarahbarnes Thank you! I loved being in Joan's headspace. 2mo
batsy @Suet624 It's neat when it feels like books talk to each other across differences! 🙂 2mo
Leftcoastzen Love your review! I‘m glad there are books that represent women that “don‘t fit” expectations & norms.I loved 2mo
BarbaraBB How I can I resist this book after your review and the books you compare it to?! 2mo
squirrelbrain Great review! This is on the #tob longlist but I‘ve been wanting to read it for a while. It‘s not that easy to get hold of in the UK though. 2mo
jlhammar I really enjoyed Chemistry. Going to have to give this one a try sometime! 2mo
batsy @Leftcoastzen Thank you! I just realised that Wang wrote an introduction for that gem of a novel on the woman who doesn't fit in, Villette, which is too perfect. And now I must have it 😆 (Modern Library Torchbearers edition). 2mo
batsy @BarbaraBB @squirrelbrain @jlhammar Thank you! I hope it fulfills expectations when you get to it 🙂 2mo
Leftcoastzen @batsy oh wow! Seems so right ! I loved Villette & me reading it was inspired by how much you liked it . I do remember looking up a lot of French phrases .😁 2mo
CarolynM Great review, as always. I haven‘t been drawn to this, but you might have changed my mind🤔🙂 2mo
batsy @Leftcoastzen Oh yes, the French phrases! 😆 2mo
batsy @CarolynM Thank you! Not quite a plot-ty book but a thoughts-and-musings one, so whenever the mood strikes for something like that 🙂 2mo
Cathythoughts Yes! Great review..and stacked ♥️ 2mo
batsy @Cathythoughts Thank you! ❤️ 2mo
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batsy
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
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"What was wellness anyway? Was it anything like Loch Ness, like a seemingly placid lake with an unknowable monster hiding inside?"

I love how Wang weaves in the most unexpected images into her seemingly placid prose with an unknowable narrator hiding inside.

kspenmoll Wonderful image! 2mo
kspenmoll Wonderful image! 2mo
batsy @kspenmoll It is! The narrator has unexpected insights. 2mo
BarbaraBB Can‘t wait for your review! 2mo
batsy @BarbaraBB I'm liking it a lot so far! 2mo
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britt_brooke
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
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⭐️⭐️⭐️ A very similar vein as Wang‘s PEN/Hemingway winning novel Chemistry. Joan‘s dry wit and straight forward demeanor drew me in. Loved “Tickle Me ECMO.” In this short novel, Wang takes on quite a lot: parental loss, family dynamics, cultural and societal demands. Joan is quirky, smart, and relatable. I read this as part of a #bookclub organized by my local indie.

Cinfhen Agreed with the Chemistry comparison. Quirky & memorable - how did bookclub like it?? 3mo
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HeatherBookNerd
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
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Joan has such a unique voice and experience. I loved her. She and her brother are children of Chinese immigrants, having opportunities never possible for their parents in America. Once the kids reached adulthood, Joan‘s parents returned to China. Now in her mid 30s, Joan is struggling to understand her relationship with her family, her place in society as a single, childless-by-choice doctor, and what it means to be Chinese in America. Very good.

ShyBookOwl Ooh. Sounds like a good rec for #alphabetgame (which is on J today!) 6mo
Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks Thank you for playing! 6mo
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dylanisreading
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
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I've begun my #BookerPrize22 reading with Booth and picked up the tagged book during a library browse over the weekend. It's the dark horse of my recent reading. The understated writing, the bitingly dry humor, Joan herself. I'm surprised I haven't seen more talk about it on here.

#dogsoflitsy

Ruthiella I loved Fowler‘s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves but was less impressed with The Jane Austen Book Club. Booth will be the tie breaker! 6mo
HeatherBookNerd I‘m in the middle of this now and it‘s great! 6mo
dylanisreading @Ruthiella Haven't read any Fowler before this, but I'm liking Booth so far! 6mo
dylanisreading @HeatherBookNerd Awesome! I really liked it. 6mo
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Decalino
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
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Joanna is a workaholic ICU doctor, the daughter of Chinese immigrants who returned to China when she started college. Her life is work, mainly because it's the only place she feels entirely at home. It's hard to explain why I loved this book, but Joanna's unique perspective and distinctive personality made her someone I wanted to spend time with. The book draws to a surprisingly poignant close as the pandemic is just beginning. I already miss it.

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charl08
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang

Much of any culture can be linked back to eating and food, food and care, eating and language. To eat one's feelings, to eat dust, words... to eat someone else alive.... Chinese isn't any different from English in this way... To eat punishment or get the worst of it, chi kui. And, most important, to eat hardship, suffering, and pain, chi ki, a defining Chinese quality, to be able to bear a great deal without showing a crack.

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charl08
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
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JANUARY WAS WELLNESS MONTH at the hospital, and HR sent us daily reminders to take time for lunch. ... On a scale of one to ten, what is your level of well? I found the last question confusing. Was ten the well of one? Because for patients there was a similar scale: in every exam room a series of cartoon faces morphed from happy to sad, from one to ten for pain and well on that scale was a one, while ten was exceedingly not.

Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks If it‘s anything like where I work your level of well is 👎🏻 At least they asked!! That‘s more than we get! 🤦🏻‍♀️ 7mo
LiteraryinLawrence I really like her writing, from the 2 books I‘ve read by her. 7mo
charl08 @Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks kind of the opposite: they ask, but the methods to "help" don't address the wider issues in the sector. 7mo
charl08 @LiteraryinLawrence this was my first, but I hope not the last. 7mo
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charl08
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
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I told them that the last time I saw my father was in spring. He had been in New York for business.... He bought me a cup of coffee and I was almost done with it when he had to leave and catch his flight. But to China, I rarely went, nor did I consider myself too Chinese.

The moment those words left my mouth, I wondered why I had said them. What was wrong with being too Chinese? Yet it'd always seemed that something was.

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BkClubCare
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
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I am so overwhelmed. Too many books off hold at the same time and I can‘t seem to focus on any of my current reads. 😩😫

Ruthiella Sorry! 😢Juggling holds is difficult! 8mo
Suet624 Oh no! 8mo
charl08 I know that feeling. Good luck! 7mo
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LiteraryinLawrence
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
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Recommend. I really appreciated Joan‘s inner monologue, even though her perspective is different from mine (and she often feels different from those around her). She is a doctor who is well respected at work for her complete dedication and single mindedness, but outside the hospital those sentiments are not taken well by family and acquaintances. With musings about family, career, loss, and what it means to be Chinese, this short book delivered.

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LiteraryinLawrence
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
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Getting ready to curl up on this rainy Saturday and hopefully do some reading. It‘s been a rough week so I‘m hoping to lose myself in some books. 💗 I made my May #bookspinbingo board which I will post separately. I‘ve got a stack of books because I still don‘t know what I feel like reading, plus a cozy blanket and 2 furry creatures. Wishing all my Litsy friends a restful and replenishing reading session.

Bookzombie Wishing you the same and a better week next week. 💕 9mo
Kayla.Adriena Aww I'm sorry it's been rough, hate that 9mo
rubyslippersreads 😻😻😻 9mo
Kelly_the_Bookish_Sidekick I hope next week is a better week. 9mo
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MysticFaerie
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
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Pickpick

4⭐/5⭐

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RebL
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
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As a divorced empty nester attempting to shed family pressure who used to over-appreciate my job, Joan felt compatible. Especially as she mostly stays in her apartment & I mostly never leave my house.
~
I did leave my house to watch my daughter in an Ultimate tournament this weekend. She wore jersey #14--the same number I mostly wore as a strong-side winger in my rugby days.

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Lauren.Archer
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
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This book is an inner dialogue of a socially awkward woman. The writing is sparse and lovely. Wang gets to the point, there is no flourishes in her storytelling but it really works for the characters she dreams up. This is a short read that should not be missed.

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Hooked_on_books
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
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Joan is Chinese-American, loves her job, is unmarried and has no children. She‘s quite happy this way, which is hard for many around her to understand. I really loved this. I related to Joan in so many ways.

squirrelbrain Sounds great - stacked. 11mo
Megabooks I related to it as well. Interesting book. 11mo
BkClubCare A friend just today rec‘d this one! Said it is weird and quirky? ❤️ 11mo
Hooked_on_books @BkClubCare I didn‘t find it at all weird, but I think quirky would be fair. (Full disclosure, I‘m not in medicine anymore but I‘m an MD, so I can relate to this character in a way others may not, so it may actually be weird in a way that is normal for me.) 11mo
BkClubCare @Hooked_on_books - weird in a good way! I will read it (and ask more probing questions of my friend.) She did say that she thoroughly enjoyed it. 11mo
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merelybookish
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
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Joan is a Chinese-American ER doctor who loves her job, maybe too much. But then the death of her father back in China stirs up old memories and complicated feelings about family, success, being an immigrant, and what it means to belong. I loved this book. I loved Joan and her quirky, deadpan observations. She made me laugh out loud and she made me cry. Highly recommend! (Unless you're avoiding pandemic novels.)

batsy I really enjoyed the tone/voice of Chemistry and am looking forward to this! 11mo
merelybookish @batsy I want to read Chemistry now! 11mo
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merelybookish
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
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Cackled to myself while audiobaking some cookies. This book about a workaholic Chinese American doctor isn't a comedy but her deadpan observations and wry tone are pretty hilarious.

Sparklemn Yum. What kind of cookies? 11mo
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LeslieO
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
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#thisweekinnewbooks and last week, too. Believe it or not I‘ve read more books than I‘ve purchased this month (so far!) This bunch includes my subscription from The Bookshelf Thomasville (tagged book) and The Violin Conspiracy, my pick from the Currently Reading podcast indie press list. Yay Indie Bookstores. (The other two are from Amazon🤪) #MountTBR

EvieBee Wow! Goals. 💕 12mo
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ReadingEnvy
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
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I've had Weike Wang on my radar but never read Chemistry. This is her second novel, about Joan, a successful ICU doctor in New York, child of Chinese immigrants who actually moved back to China once Joan and her brother no longer needed them. The story introduces Joan in normal times as a slightly isolated person, but this seems to bother her family and neighbors more than it bothers her. Then covid hits and it changes some of these dynamics.↘️

ReadingEnvy When I look for audiobooks, I tend to go for anything 9 hours or less, and this was a sixish hours audiobook well read by Catherine Ho. 12mo
Reggie Chemistry and Severance by Ling Ma could be book twins. I loved them both. 12mo
ReadingEnvy @Reggie oh interesting. Well if Chemistry reflected the author's college years at all, I'd say Joan is Okay might be the Road Not Taken for her. Which I kind of like as a concept. 12mo
Reggie @ReadingEnvy both have to do with women whose Asian immigrant parents have a huge impact on their adult lives. One just happens to be in a weird zombie apocalypse and the other breaks down during grad school. I really look forward to this one. 12mo
ReadingEnvy @Reggie and then in Joan is Okay, there is a virus apocalypse only it's covid! 12mo
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suvata
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
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Joan is a thirtysomething ICU doctor at a busy NYC hospital. The daughter of Chinese parents who came to the United States to secure the American dream for their children, Joan is intensely devoted to her work, happily solitary, successful. She does look up sometimes and wonder where her true roots lie: at the hospital, where her white coat makes her feel needed, or with her family, who try to shape her life by their own cultural expectations.

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Branwen
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
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Starting this one today! It looks interesting! 💕📚💕 #catsoflitsy #littenkitten #rumpel

rubyslippersreads 😻😻😻 12mo
RaeLovesToRead Rumpel 💕💕💕 she is just too cute!!!! 12mo
Branwen @RaeLovesToRead @rubyslippersreads Thank you! ❤ Cute and ornery! 🤣😂 12mo
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ravenlee My kiddo loves seeing pictures of Rumpel! I don‘t even have to tell her who it is. She‘s kind of stalking your kitty, actually…so, sorry about that? 12mo
Branwen @ravenlee OMG. This literally just made my night! Please don't apologize- I love this and am so happy to hear it! I'll make sure to keep posting Rumpel moments which honestly won't be hard as she seems to love being on Litsy as much as she loves being read to! 😸💕📚 12mo
ravenlee Kiddo said to me a few days ago, “Are there any pictures of cats online?” Which just made me crack up, because the internet was freaking MADE for pictures of cats! But what she meant was new #catsofLitsy pics and that was even more awesome. I have created mini-me: she devours books, adores cats, and loves tea and chocolate. Success! 11mo
Branwen @ravenlee She sounds like an AMAZING kiddo! 😃 You are definitely doing something right! 😻💕📚 11mo
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Megabooks
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
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Joan Is Okay is okay, and that‘s fine. Not a “best book of the year,” but quietly relatable to me.

Joan is a doctor, almost a stereotypical Asian immigrant robot achiever. Her father dies unexpectedly, and she continues to plow ahead working as many shifts as possible in the ICU. When HR makes her take a break, she discovers TV and an adult relationship with her brother, HOWEVER I appreciated that it was a rocky road without a storybook ending.

Cinfhen I thought this was ok, nothing special but I did appreciate the way Covid was written into the story without it being the center of the story. Nice review 12mo
Cinfhen It was a little too similar in style to her first novel 12mo
Megabooks @Cinfhen yeah, I did like the way Covid wasn‘t the spotlight. I liked chemistry a bit, but I liked this one more. 12mo
Reggie I loved Chemistry. I look forward to this one. 12mo
Megabooks @Reggie I enjoyed it as well, and this is very similar in construction and spirit, so I think you‘ll like it. 👍🏻 12mo
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Cinfhen
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
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#NetGalley #DoubleSpin Available JANUARY 11
Joan lives a life of self imposed loneliness. Her workplace,as an ICU doctor is her safe place. When a new neighbor moves in & her mother comes for a visit her life is thrown off kilter.
This book was light but insightful. Unfortunately, it left me underwhelmed but I did appreciate the inclusion of the early days of Covid, not as a gimmick but as a source of authenticity.
#BorrowNotBuy

Cinfhen I noticed this was on your #Top21of21 list @DrexEdit and that encouraged me to push it up my TBR. THANKS for posting and sharing 😊 13mo
Texreader Beautiful photo 13mo
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TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!!! 13mo
DrexEdit I totally agree with what you say about including the early days of the pandemic. It did feel pretty organic here and not overly gimmicky. Glad you liked it, even as a light read! 13mo
Cinfhen I‘ve read about 6 or 7 books now that have included the pandemic in some form @DrexEdit and this one felt must organic. Do you think this will become the norm for contemporary fiction !?!! 13mo
Chelsea.Poole I‘ve noticed recently when reading contemporary fiction that DOESNT even mention the pandemic I‘m taken out of the story like wait a minute— this isn‘t real life, where‘s the COVID stuff!?! It‘s apparently pretty deeply rooted for me at this point 😑 13mo
Cinfhen Yeah, I get that @Chelsea.Poole I don‘t mind Covid being referenced but I don‘t want it being played out. Does that make sense??? 13mo
Chelsea.Poole Yes, definitely makes sense. I want to escape it too, and do not need a play-by-play either 😊 13mo
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Marsha Skrypuch
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
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Throughout the book I had the urge to hug Joan even though I'm sure she would have hated it. Loved the novel.

DrexEdit I had the same thought about this book! Really enjoyed this read 1y
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DrexEdit
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
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Joan is a mid-30s Chinese-American ICU doctor. Joan is hyper-focused on her career & doesn't know about things like Seinfeld or interior design. Joan is quite literal & assesses people by how much space they take up. Joan has social anxiety. Joan's older brother is deeply invested in her life choices. Joan's parents returned to Shanghai to live, but her father recently died. Joan has some issues. But you know what? Joan really is Okay. 5 ⭐ 👍

DrexEdit I really enjoyed getting to know Joan and watching her figure out her place in the world. I am going straight out to get Weike Wang's first book Chemistry and shall eagerly await more from this author! 1y
CarolynM Sounds good. Stacked. 1y
EvieBee I had no idea she had another book out. Chemistry is one of my most favorite books. Will definitely be reading this asap. 1y
See All 6 Comments
DrexEdit @EvieBee Dang! I forgot to add this to my review! I received an#ARC from #NetGalley. This book publishes in January! Sorry! 1y
EvieBee Guess what?! It‘s already in the library database as “on order” and I‘m first in line! So thank YOU. (edited) 1y
DrexEdit @EvieBee 😄 👍 1y
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Well-ReadNeck
Joan Is Okay | Weike Wang
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Similar vibes to the author‘s earlier novel, Chemistry. This author is now officially an auto buy for me. #ARC #Netgalley

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