What We Were Promised by Lucy Tan

What We Were Promised

After years of chasing the American dream, the Zhen family has moved back to China. Settling into a luxurious serviced apartment in Shanghai, Wei, Lina, and their daughter, Karen, join an elite community of Chinese-born, Western-educated professionals who have returned to a radically transformed city.One morning, in the eighth tower of Lanson Suites, Lina discovers that a childhood keepsake, an ivory bracelet, has gone missing. The incident contr...

Details What We Were Promised

TitleWhat We Were Promised
Release DateJul 10th, 2018
PublisherLittle, Brown
GenreFiction, Contemporary, Cultural, China, Adult

Reviews What We Were Promised

  • Lolly K Dandeneau
    via my blog: https://bookstalkerblog.wordpress.com/'Fang Lijian’s perspective on love was different from any she’d heard before. Lina’s friends had watched too many American movies and to them, love was a classic car that would come roaring in from nowhere when the time was right, pick you up, and peel away. For all their warnings to her about relinquishing control marrying a man she didn’t know, they seemed to crave the kind of love that...
  • Susie
    As a second generation Asian-American, so much of this novel resonated with me. I've already read it cover-to-cover twice now, and will come back to it again when I'm in the mood for some seriously good writing and story, probably accompanied by a glass of wine and dark chocolate.This book tells the story of a family—Lina, Wei, their adolescent daughter, Karen—moving back to Shanghai for Wei’s marketing career after two decades of living in...
  • Lillian Li
    I loved Lucy Tan’s What We Were Promised. A true talent, debut author Tan writes prose that is compelling, evocative, funny, and at the same time manages to cut straight to the core of things. Most impressive of all is the authority and care with which Tan builds her world of nouveau-riche Shanghai, not only situating the complex, cosmopolitan city in the equally complex history of China and the Cultural Revolution, but allowing this same histo...
  • Afoma Umesi
    Thanks to Little Brown for a free ARC of this book! WHAT WE WERE PROMISED is the enthralling story of Chinese family forced, by the return of a prodigal son, to address familial issues and unfulfilled promises.I was struck by the poignancy of her deceptively simple style, barely ten pages in! This book is full of astute observations about life, love, and the choices we make for the people we love. Combined with compelling characters, the mystery...
  • Kate
    I’m so pleasantly surprised! More TK 🙂
  • Anne
    I've been fascinated with Chinese culture ever since I was in college and went on Semester at Sea my junior year. I love everything about it including the rich history and struggles so I was excited to read this novel. At first I had trouble getting into it though as there is so much backstory given to bring the reader up to speed with Lina and her family's present. But then as present and past are interwoven, it becomes clearer and more engaging...
  • Maggie
    Tan's debut novel will definitely put her on the map for her beautiful storytelling and exquisite prose. She eloquently weaves together the characters' lives, flawlessly fusing the past and the present. Each page is filled with such rich detail that you feel as if you are living with the characters in their setting, that you know each of them intimately. At the end, you want the story to continue so you can continue living within their story and ...
  • Rachel
    A beautifully told story, an advanced copy of which I won here from goodreads!I had read a book (Little Soldiers) just a few weeks ago about Chinese education and culture, so this being a book about Chinese people who live in America and in Shanghai at different periods in the book was a nice coincidence which I felt gave me a little more insight into the values and lifestyles portrayed in the book.This book offers a perspicacious and intelligent...
  • Maggie Boyd
    What We Were Promised is both a look at life in modern day China and an observation on the unchanging nature of humanity. “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main” John Donne told us. This book shows that as a universal truth.After years of going to college and then working in America, the small Zhen family of Wei, Lina and Karen have moved back to China. Wei is a success story, having a...
  • Andrea
    I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.3.5. I wanted/hoped for more. I may eventually reconsider and round up, but...I typically love/look forward to this genre. But I felt it was somewhat disjointed and choppy. I wanted more of some stories, less of others. When it was good, it was excellent. But it often felt flat. Nonetheless, well-written [no prose had me cringing] and certainly impressive for a debut novel The s...
  • Rebecca
    Thanks to the publisher, via Netgalley, for an advance e-galley for an honest review!3.5ish stars, rounded up. This book was really excellent when it was telling the story about Lina, Wei, and Qiang and their connection and lives growing up. The story really took its time revealing the secrets between the adults, and when the ultimate story is dropped, it was worth the wait. The last quarter of so of the book, in general, is worth the wait that i...
  • Jaclyn
    I love that this book is about a Chinese family who moved to America, then back to China. I don't think I've read many books that tackled that awkwardness of being back home, but it's no longer quite home anymore.I liked the family tensions with the long-lost brother, how the move to America and class differences in both brothers' lives have coloured that tension, and how the family ayi Sunny can see it all happening. I wish there had been more c...
  • Renee
    What We Were Promised is a family saga, of sorts, and chock-full of d-r-a-m-a. Tan crafts a story around the Zhen family: Wei and Lina grew up in China before moving to America to pursue lofty dreams of higher education and corporate success. After twenty-some years, the couple has returned to their motherland, a couple decades older and joined this time by their teenage daughter, Karen. During their years abroad, they accrued wealth and success,...
  • Connie
    I find it hard to believe that is Lucy Tan’s debut novel. The story was interesting and complex enough that it held my attention, and I loved the author’s style of writing. It all fits together well. Tan does a wonderful job of portraying a couple who were born and raised in China, lived in the United States for a number of years, and then moved back to China. The characterization was very good. Not only did I get to know the people in the bo...
  • Oscar (books_tea1)
    This book is one that I’m never really going to forget in a long time. It truly has been one of the best books I have read this year. It’s a page turner all the way through and I could not put it down at all since I started it. Truthfully, it took me three days to finish it and I loved every single hour that I spent on it. What We Were Promised, by Lucy Tan, was one of my most anticipated books this year to read so my expectations for it were...
  • Stephanie
    Thanks to Little, Brown for the free review copy!After reading several books in a row that were just fine but not outstanding, this was such a welcome relief. It's that perfect blend between literary complexity and simple storytelling - beautiful and moving, but still so readable and page-turner-y. It's set in Shanghai, where Wei and Lina have returned to China after years in the US to join the wealthy upper crust. All is not well as they settle ...
  • Susan
    To repay a debt, Lina was promised in marriage to Wei. For an American, I was mentally prepared for this book to take place last century, but it wasn't. Actions by individuals and the Chinese government during the Cultural Revolution placed Lina's father in debt to Wei's father. Lina we the repayment for that favor. Other than this culturally based foundation for their relationship, this story could have read like almost any other family saga. Bu...
  • Caleb Masters
    An impressive debut novel the expertly weaves together two parallel narratives to great effect. The first tells the story of the Zhen family moving back to China after decades in America and their struggles navigating this new, bustling Shanghai which feels so far removed from the post-Great Leap Forward poverty of their childhood villages. Further complicating matters for the Zhens is the sudden reappearance of a long-lost brother whom the famil...
  • Chain Reading
    As a citizen of Vancouver, my day to day life is full of acquaintances who move back and forth between Canada and China. I know a fair bit about what their life is like here, but little about what their life is like back in China, so I really enjoyed this book. It's set in Shanghai, and featuring a married couple, Wei and Lina, who left China for America in their 20s and returned and their 40s, along with Wei's brother Qiang, their daughter Karen...
  • Herminia Chow
    About the book: It's a debut novel about a family who returns to Shanghai after trying to chase the American dream in the United States.I received a free copy from Hachette in exchange for an honest review.First impressions: I felt excited to read a novel about Chinese characters written by a Chinese author. I expected I'd be able to relate.I love the title and cover page. It took me a few chapters to get into the story though.Characters: Wei, L...
  • Sam
    The characters were engaging and fully developed and I enjoyed reading each of their perspectives in short alternating chapters. Although it references the historic repression in China, this is not a novel with a lot of "action," but it is an engrossing story and an extremely well written character study which reveals the layers of class in modern China.
  • Shelley
    Recommended. This novel is about leaving (the country, China, and the US) and returning (home, to family), and is told from several points of view; it moves back and forth in time without any loss of narrative thread. It probably has one or two too many viewpoint characters IMHO, but it's still quite good.
  • Jordan
    Super mixed feelings about this one. Right now I'm feeling it's a 3.5 for me.
  • Rochelle
    I enjoyed reading this book about family, secrets, loyalty and Chinese culture. The writing was beautiful and descriptive and the different characters’s perspectives helped in understanding more about the Chinese culture. There are many different themes that could be discussed in a book club.Thanks you to the Goodreads Giveaway program for my copy of this book.
  • Jennifer
    I really liked this book, but I didn't love it. I received this book for free as a Goodreads Giveaway. The writing was fluid and the story was interesting. My one complaint is that I never felt connected to any of the characters. It wasn't until the last fourth of the book that the reader gets a glimpse of who the characters really were and how they felt, and the reasons they made the choices that they did. I believe that this is the author's fir...
  • Rebecca Akins
    This book was very well written and the author did a great job of weaving the story together. I have this book 3 stars because the story did not hold my attention. I found myself getting distracted while reading and I wasn’t excited to find out what would happen next. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about family dynamics and multicultural families.I received this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway. This in no way affe...
  • Lynne
    4.5 starsThe story follows the lives of Wei and Lina Zhen in addition to the woman who becomes their housekeeper, Sunny. While the focus is on the Zhens, there is enough of Sunny's backstory to fully flesh out her character development. Each the characters' stories are told by an omniscient narrator which lends itself well to the reader who is getting a glimpse behind the "doors" of one family among the many who live in the luxury apartments...Re...