Book Review: Joan is Okay by Weike Wang


Title: Joan Is Okay

By: Weike Wang

Genre: Fiction

Pages: 224

Release Date: January 18th, 2022

Publisher: Random House

Rating: ★★★☆☆


Summary from Goodreads:

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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A wonderful story highlighting a strong female character who is perfectly imperfect. 

I really enjoyed the story of Joan and the struggles she goes through as a Chines American doctor in the world today. She knows what she wants and hyper focuses on it until someone or something comes along and stirs things up a bit. Her relationship with her parents was fun to follow as different cultures and expectations clash, leaving Joan to navigate life in her own unique way.

The one gripe I have with this book was the dry writing style. I found it very matter of fact and to the point. Not really the kind of world building and story telling that I enjoy.

All in all, this was a wonderful read. I can see why Weike Wang has so many great reviews for this book already. 

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review. 

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