"The Chinese word for 'love' is made up of many brush strokes. In the center of the word 'love' is the word 'heart.' Love is made of heart…"
Twenty-seven-year-old Ruby Lin has what many women envy: a beautiful apartment in one of San Francisco's best neighborhoods, a busy social life, and a coveted position as manager of special events for the tony St. Mark Hotel. But it's Ruby's personal life that's become unmanageable ever since the day her mother's emotional breakdown forced Ruby to hospitalize her, shaming the family. Now, Ruby is caught in the crossroads between two vastly different cultures-one in which she is the American girl, raised on kitschy television shows and black-and-white movies, and one in which she is known only as Daughter, the eldest, fulfiller of responsibilities.
In putting together the pieces of her mother's life, Ruby finds herself exploring the wounds of her own past. Starting with a forbidden locked tin box and the yellowing photograph inside, Ruby embarks on a startling journey of self-discovery that takes her through a family history rife with violence, betrayal and loss that reaches back through generations, from China to America, and finally to the secret pain of a mother's sacrifice. Like the Chinese calligraphy that adorns her walls, Ruby comes to see that "life is not a straight road," but a language drawn with many brush strokes, where every misunderstanding must yield to the simple message of the heart.
Filled with warmth and wisdom, this luminous debut novel heralds the arrival of an exciting new voice in fiction as it explores the complex bonds between mothers and daughters, the choices that divide us, and the love that brings us home.