A NATIONAL BOOK FOUNDATION "5 UNDER 35" HONOREE
“There is so much heart in these pages, so much wisdom on how we love. This book had me in its orbit, from beginning to end.” – Weike Wang, author of Joan is Okay
Holding Pattern. Noun.
1. A state of suspended progress.
2. The awkward way your mother tries to hug you now that you live with her. Again.
Kathleen Cheng has blown up her life. She’s gone through a humiliating breakup, dropped out of her graduate program, and left everything behind. Now she’s back in her childhood home in Oakland, wondering what’s next.
To her surprise, her mother isn’t the same person Kathleen remembers. No longer depressed or desperate to return to China, the new Marissa Cheng is sporty, perky, and has been transformed by love. Kathleen thought she’d be planning her own wedding, but instead finds herself helping her mother plan hers—to a Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur.
Grasping for direction, Kathleen takes a job at a start-up that specializes in an unconventional form of therapy based on touch. While she negotiates new ideas about intimacy and connection, an unforeseen attachment to someone at work pushes her to rethink her relationships—especially the one with Marissa. Will they succeed in seeing each other anew, adult to adult?
As they peel back the layers of their history—the old wounds, cultural barriers, and complex affection—they must come to a new understanding of how they can propel each other forward, and what they’ve done to hold each other back. Brilliantly observant, tender, and warm, Holding Pattern is a hopeful novel about immigration and belonging, mother-daughter relationships, and the many ways we learn to hold each other.
A woman struggles to come to terms with her mother's newfound happiness while her own life falls apart in Xie's funny and sharp debut. Kathleen Cheng has just been dumped by her boyfriend, prompting her to leave her graduate psychology program at Johns Hopkins and return home to her mother's house in California. On impulse, she takes a job as a "cuddle provider," providing clients with nonsexual touching. Meanwhile, her mother, Marissa, who emigrated with Kathleen from Shanghai when she was an infant and became a heavy drinker after divorcing her father, is now sober and on the verge of marrying a tech tycoon. As Kathleen puts together a Vegas bachelorette weekend for Marissa, crosses a boundary or two with a client, and deals with the fact that her high school boyfriend is now dating her best friend, she slowly begins to find a new path for herself. Xie's strong character work keeps the narrative bubbling along on its episodic arc, and her affectionate study of the ways Kathleen and Marissa madden and inspire each other adds depth. This author is off to a stellar start.
I am the father of the author
I am the father of the author of this novel, so I am naturally biased. As both my wife and I immigrated to the United States at age 26 and learned our English mostly after we arrived, I can't really describe how beautifully the book is written. As the author once said, her novel is a love letter that my wife and I can't read. However, I believe that this is a well-written and engaging novel. The author has a strong voice, and her characters are believable and relatable. The plot is well-paced, and the ending is satisfying.
I have been fortunate to witness the whole journey of this debut novel as the father. It did not start when the author quit her executive editor job 2 years ago at a well-respected magazine to focus on her effort on the novel. It did not start 8 years ago when the author started to work on the story. It did not start when the author went to college and picked the language arts major. It did not start at the summer writing camp the author attended at Stanford University after her high school freshman year. It did not start at the UCI's Fantasy and Fiction Workshop the author went to when she was 9 years old. It started with the very first “love you” note she wrote for Father's Day when she could barely spell her name. I have seen how hard the author has worked towards this book.
I fully believe that this is a promising debut novel. The author has a bright future ahead of her, and I am excited to see what she writes next.
I just could not keep reading
This is only he second time in my entire life that I could not complete a book. It started off with promise and went downhill quickly. So disappointed. It had the makings of a good novel, but it didn’t flow, the characters were inconsistent and had a very “immature vibe” to it overall,