May–June 2021 Selection
A River of Stars
In connection with our 2021 Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPI) celebration, SFPL has selected Vanessa Hua as our On the Same Page author for her book River of Stars, a novel about motherhood, immigration and identity.
In River of Stars, protagonist Scarlett Chen finds herself holed up with other mothers-to-be in a secret maternity home in Los Angeles, 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. Yeung, already married with three daughters, is overjoyed because the doctors confirmed he will finally have the son he has always wanted. To ensure his son has every advantage, he sends Scarlett off to give birth on American soil and to gain U.S. citizenship.
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 unwed mother who has been separated from her American boyfriend. When a new sonogram of Scarlett's baby reveals the unexpected, she escapes by hijacking a van—only to discover that she has a stowaway. Together, 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 her baby's father is not far behind her.
About the Author
Vanessa Hua is an award-winning, best-selling author and columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. Her novel, A River of Stars, was named to the Washington Post and NPR’s Best Books of 2018 lists, and has been called a "marvel" by O, The Oprah Magazine, and "delightful" by The Economist. Her short story collection, Deceit and Other Possibilities, a New York Times Editors' Choicer received an Asian/Pacific American Award in Literature and was a finalist for a California Book Award, and a New American Voices Award. Her forthcoming novel, Forbidden City, will be published in Spring 2022.
For two decades, she has been writing about Asia and the diaspora, filing stories from China, Burma, Panama, South Korea and Ecuador. She began her career at the Los Angeles Times before heading east to the Hartford Courant. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, San Francisco Magazine, Washington Post, The Atlantic and Newsweek, among other publications.