A River of Stars
"A River of Stars splits 'the Chinese immigrant story' into a kaleidoscopic spectrum, putting human faces to the many groups—rich and poor, privileged and marginalized, documented and not—who come to America. Vanessa Hua’s debut is an utterly absorbing novel about the ruthless love of parenthood and the universal truth that sometimes family runs deeper than blood alone.
—Celeste Ng, New York Times-bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere and Everything I Never Told You
“How does Scarlett Chen—pregnant, her immigration status in peril—make her way in America without friends, language, and money? Vanessa Hua’s compelling A River of Stars is a story of resistance, survival, and self-determination in a world that is seemingly indifferent to the needs of the poor and disenfranchised.”
—Min Jin Lee, author of National Book Award finalist Pachinko
"In A River of Stars, Vanessa Hua illuminates the lives of her characters with energy, verve and heart. Hua tracks the minutest emotional terrain of these characters while simultaneously interrogating the cultural and economic forces that shape their worlds. This book holds your attention until the very last page."
—Emma Cline, New York Times-bestselling author of The Girls
“A River of Stars is as pleasurable in its parts as it is profound in its sum. It is a road novel, an immigrant narrative, a family saga, a mystery, and the unlikeliest of love stories, all animated by a magnificent cast of characters who bear out John Berger’s assertion that ‘never again shall a single story be told as though it was the only one.’ Vanessa Hua’s debut contains multitudes.”
—Anthony Marra, New York Times bestselling author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena and The Tsar of Love and Techno
"A River of Stars is a page-turner, a riveting story of parenthood, migration, and the choices we make to survive. Fierce and determined, resourceful and resilient, Scarlett Chen is an unforgettable protagonist you can’t help but root for. "
—Lisa Ko, author of National Book Award finalist The Leavers
In a powerful debut novel about motherhood, immigration, and identity, a pregnant Chinese woman makes her way to California and stakes a claim to the American dream.
Holed up with other moms-to-be in a secret maternity home in Los Angeles, Scarlett Chen is far from her native China, where she worked in a factory job and fell in love with the owner, Boss Yeung. Now she’s carrying his baby. Already married with three daughters, he’s overjoyed because the doctors confirmed he will finally have the son he has always wanted. To ensure that his son has every advantage, he has shipped Scarlett off to give birth on American soil. U.S. citizenship will open doors for their little prince.
As Scarlett awaits the baby’s arrival, she chokes down bitter medicinal stews and spars with her imperious housemates. The only one who fits in even less is Daisy, a spirited teenager and fellow unwed mother who is being kept apart from her American boyfriend.
Then a new sonogram of Scarlett’s baby reveals the unexpected. Panicked, she escapes by hijacking a van—only to discover that she has a stowaway: Daisy, who intends to track down the father of her child. They flee to San Francisco’s bustling Chinatown, where Scarlett will join countless immigrants desperately trying to seize their piece of the American dream. What Scarlett doesn’t know is that Boss Yeung is not far behind her.
A River of Stars is an entertaining, wildly unpredictable adventure, told with empathy and wit by an author the San Francisco Chronicle says “has a deep understanding of the pressure of submerged emotions and polite, face-saving deceptions.” It’s a vivid examination of home and belonging, and a moving portrayal of a woman determined to build her own future.
Cover image and author photo available upon request.
August LibraryReads Top 10 pick of new releases
"Skillful...hilarious...heartbreaking....Hua wonderfully evokes the exigencies of lives at the margins of American culture by revealing Scarlett’s enduring ingenuity" —Publishers Weekly
"Astute...confronts identity, privilege, freedom, and a twenty-first-century rendering of the American dream with poignancy, insight, humor, and plenty of savvy charm" —Booklist
"The heroines in A River of Stars are strong, resourceful and eager to embrace the values of their adopted countries to overcome desperate circumstances. In highlighting the struggles immigrants face in their home countries, Hua gives a very real face to a population often marginalized by political theorizing and racial clichés. They are not outsiders, but the very embodiment of the American dream" — Shelf Awareness
"Bristles with timely detail and unexpected pivots, as two desperate women find family and community to support their struggle for freedom" —BBC
"Vanessa Hua's debut is a vibrant, fascinating look into womanhood and how so many women's lives are shaped by their relationship to the powerful men within them. Hua infuses this story with spirit and humor...remarkable"—Nylon
"A story of immigration, survival, and love in its many forms"—The Rumpus
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