Kathryn Ma ap1
About the author

Kathryn Ma is the author of the story collection All That Work and Still No Boys, winner of the 2009 Iowa Short Fiction Award and the recipient of the David Nathan Meyerson Price for Fiction. Her stores have appeared in the Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, TriQuarterly, and other publications.
As an accomplished public speaker and a former practicing lawyer, she lives with her husband and three daughters in San Francisco.

You can contact her directly at her website – http://kathrynma.com.



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Book Review

The Year She Left Us
By Kathryn Ma
Reviewed by Mary Jeneverre Schultz

Sometimes the hurt is uncontainable. In an emotional book about strong, confident Chinese-American women, author Kathyrn Ma displays an underlying story-telling talent in conveying the emotions of adoption, looking for lost parents and everyone affected.

The Year She Left Us introduces the Kongs, four unforgettable women in a Chinese-American family whose multi-generational saga is as emotionally raw as it is expertly crafted. Back in San Francisco after a trip to her “home” orphanage in China ended traumatically, Adriadne Bettina Yun-li Rose Kong, an 18-year-old adoptee known as Ari, is spiraling out of control, bent on forfeiting her future to go digging into the mysteries of her elusive past. Her big-hearted single mother, Charlie, who works as a lawyer for the poor, tries and fails to keep her troubled daughter from heading down a self-destructive path.


While adoption plays a strong role in the book, single parenting, juggling between career and home life plus renegade teenager interplay throughout the story. The success of parent stresses the teenaged daughter in trying to figure out how to lead a life respected by her family.

Scenes of San Francisco and China are main backdrops for the book. The author describes the cities well, transporting readers to the metropolitan city in California and then to the homeland of China.

The book is a thoughtful exploration of identity, sacrifice, resiliency, loss and love. This literary page-turner ponders the power of secrets, the joys and sorrows of adoption, the push-pull between assimilation and tradition, and the personal toll of professional success. Written with eloquence and assurance, The Year She Left Us is an exquisite debut novel from an extremely gifted storyteller.