I had an interesting experience reading this book. In the beginning I had doubts, as it seemed to be set up as a modern romance, and I wasn't sure if there would be anything else to the story. But that was just part one. Even in the beginning, the way Chang uses words caught me off guard at times. Words are strung together in charming ways, and I found myself re-reading sentences and smiling. This is a story of people whose lives revolve around poetry, told in delicate prose.
As the story progresses, it becomes a tale of heartbreak. These characters have big dreams, sometimes undefined, mostly unfulfilled. Their work seems fantastical and dreamy, but they are always pulled into reality. Friendships die, and people struggle against themselves to resurrect them. The book reminds us of the tenuous balance between relationships with people and careers. More specifically, careers in poetry or literature, working to compose something beautiful and immortal while letting other people and priorities fade into the background.
There's much more to this book, though I don't want to spoil it for anyone, and am trying to think of a way to describe it so that someone else can have the same experience I did reading it. As a first taste of Lan Samantha Chang, this story left a deep impression, and I'll definitely be reading more of her work.