Idea: Gee delivers a sparely written micro-memoir that explores Chinese American identity, family, and coming-of-age. With an overarching theme of existing between two worlds, Allegiance offers a striking collection of memories and reflections.
Prose: Gee is a polished and precise writer, whose poetic vignettes capture the haunting intensity of memories as filtered through time.
Originality: Though works about cultural identity and its conflicts are familiar, with its visceral language, poetic sensibility, and visual presentation, Allegiance takes a unique approach to memoir.
Character/Execution: While readers may not gain a complete sense of the author's experiences, Allegiance provides a lovely and impressionistic look into the small, formative moments that help to create a sense of self.
Date Submitted: November 23, 2020
Gee provides exceptionally rich and vivid detail. In “On Chinese New Year,” she describes a moment in which “smoke hangs in the air like ducks in the butcher shop, dripping fat and prosperity.” “Vine” shows off Gee's sense of humor, when she portrays herself as “a woman whose road most traveled is between the desk in her bedroom and the kitchen.” In “This Is Not A Drill,” she cleverly narrates receiving a mass text that her home of Hawai'i was being threatened by missiles, depicting the period when all she can do is wait with repetitive lines of only timestamps, written out with no text.
Gee insightfully encapsulates her experiences: in comparing a broken relationship with her brother to her father's career as a geophysicist, she writes, “fractures have their place—they allow for movement.” Gee's vulnerability regarding her flaws, fears, and hopes creates an intimate experience, giving readers an inside glimpse of her struggles, both personal and universal. This poignant, poetic memoir will draw readers in.
Takeaway: This poetic, introspective exploration of family, writing, and Chinese-American identity will delight readers.
Great for fans of: Gene Luen Yang's American Born Chinese, Anne Lamott.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A