From Publishers Weekly
Set in Los Angeles of the immediate future and infused with the anxieties of the present, See's potent new novel articulates the instinctive, human impulse toward connection in the face of mortality. The story centers on the UCLA medical center, where cosmopolitan, twice-widowed Edith volunteers, and where her bewildered dermatologist son, Phil, has his practice. Phil is unhappily married to the disgruntled Felicia and clueless about how to help their troubled prepubescent son or relate to their imperious teenage daughter. Edith tries repeatedly to begin her life again, but despairs of new relationships with "death all around." See also follows the love story of UCLA students Andrea Barclay, whose father's kidney is failing (and whose mother is Edith's confidant), and Danny Lee, whose large Chinese-American family gathers to support a dying uncle. Andrea and Danny's headlong romance contrasts with Phil and Felicia's unraveling marriage; the former's cultural differences become part of the point. And Phil becomes part of a bioterrorism response team; the fracturing and coalescing relationships mirror the drama of a possible epidemic as See's utterly believable characters fumble for love and meaning. (May 16)
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*Starred Review* This novel starts out as a curiosity, takes a turn into something perplexing, but ends as an artistic and soulful master achievement. The well-respected author sets her tale in the near future, and "the war" in which the U.S. has been involved for several years continues to be waged (which
war is no mystery despite being unidentified). Terrorism against the U.S. eventually assumes the form of environmental disaster. But, unusual for a "forecast" novel, this one eschews any what-will-technology-come-to-look-like gimmickry; emphatically, this is no spy thriller. Phil Fuchs is a physician affiliated with UCLA hospital; his wife is unhappy, and his kids are a mess. He seems to be just surfing through his life. His mother is recently widowed and unsettled. But Phil has to snap-to when, first, he is called on to participate in a top-secret emergency-response unit and then must face the breakup of his marriage. A secondary storyline seems unattached to the main one at first, but soon See's tight control over all the plot elements becomes obvious. The novel's deep resonance lies in her imaginative yet meaningful juxtaposition of global issues and domestic ones: crises in the former can connect with, influence, and even determine the outcome of crises in the latter. Brad HooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved