In a powerful debut novel about modern-day motherhood, immigration, and identity, a pregnant Chinese woman makes her way to California and stakes a claim to the American dream.
“Utterly absorbing.”—Celeste Ng • “A marvel of a first novel.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
Holed up with other mothers-to-be in a secret maternity home in Los Angeles, Scarlett Chen is far from her native China, where she worked in a factory and fell in love with the owner, Boss Yeung. Now she’s carrying his baby. Already married with three daughters, Boss Yeung is overjoyed because the doctors have confirmed that he will finally have the son he has always wanted. To ensure that his child has every advantage, Boss Yeung 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. The two 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 her baby’s father 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.
Praise for A River of Stars
“[A] powerful debut.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Hua’s story spins with wild fervor, with charming protagonists fiercely motivated by maternal and survival instincts.”—USA Today
“Hua’s epic A River of Stars follows a pair of pregnant Chinese immigrant women—two of the more vibrant characters I’ve come across in a while—on the lam from Los Angeles to San Francisco’s Chinatown.”—R. O. Kwon, author of The Incendiaries, in Esquire