Days of Distraction
A wry, tender portrait of a young woman—finally free to decide her own path, but unsure if she knows herself well enough to choose wisely—from a captivating new literary voiceThe plan is to leave. As for how, when, to where, and even why—she doesn’t know yet. So begins a journey for the twenty-four-year-old narrator of Days of Distraction. As a staff writer at a prestigious tech publication, she reports on the achievements of smug Silicon Valley billionaires and start-up bros while her own request for a raise gets bumped from manager to manager. And when her longtime boyfriend, J, decides to move to a quiet upstate New York town for grad school, she sees an excuse to cut and run.Moving is supposed to be a grand gesture of her commitment to J and a way to reshape her sense of self. But in the process, she finds herself facing misgivings about her role in an interracial relationship. Captivated by the stories of her ancestors and other Asian Americans in history, she must confront a question at the core of her identity: What does it mean to exist in a society that does not notice or understand you?Equal parts tender and humorous, and told in spare but powerful prose, Days of Distraction is an offbeat coming-of-adulthood tale, a touching family story, and a razor-sharp appraisal of our times.

Days of Distraction Details

TitleDays of Distraction
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 31st, 2020
PublisherHarperCollins
ISBN-139780062951809
Rating
GenreFiction, Contemporary, Literary Fiction

Days of Distraction Review

  • Jessica Woodbury
    January 1, 1970
    Some books are plotty and others can meander through a life, soft and spare. This is one of the latter and it's a genre I get very picky about. There has to be some grand design to it, some purpose, some theme, some character that makes it all feel worthwhile and Chang delivers. Her protagonist--a millennial, a tech writer, a child of Chinese immigrants--doesn't just accept her circumstances, but change can feel impossible. (Her repeated requests for a raise at her job where she is not even a Some books are plotty and others can meander through a life, soft and spare. This is one of the latter and it's a genre I get very picky about. There has to be some grand design to it, some purpose, some theme, some character that makes it all feel worthwhile and Chang delivers. Her protagonist--a millennial, a tech writer, a child of Chinese immigrants--doesn't just accept her circumstances, but change can feel impossible. (Her repeated requests for a raise at her job where she is not even a salaried employee but a contractor with no benefits lead her exactly nowhere.) And if she could change her life, what would she change it to? There are no clear answers to anything.In the middle of all this she begins to worry more and more about her relationship with J, your classic well-meaning white guy. J is smart and kind, he loves her and worries about her. J also regularly downplays her frustration or concern around race, and commits plenty of microaggressions of his own. Our narrator starts to wonder what she is doing in this relationship, why she has chosen to be with a white man, and what having an interracial relationship really means, sending her into a deep dive of research and reading. It is also a time capsule of the early 2010's, when social media was still maturing but integrated into daily life, and when media started growing specifically around a social strategy. (Which would by the end of the decade have destroyed most of them.) The way the internet and media and tech change so quickly, there's something staggering in looking back just a few years and seeing just how different things have become already. Chang nails this part of the book so much that it should be up there with books like STARTUP as catching this moment in capitalism. I found it so fascinating that I was really bummed when the narrator left.There were so many things in this book I related to, especially about relationships. The tempo may be slow, especially in the second half, but it does pay off.
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  • Bkwmlee
    January 1, 1970
    Given the current unprecedented situation, the past few weeks have been one of the busiest and most difficult Ive ever encountered a sentiment Im pretty sure many others also share at the moment. Reading has always been a solace for me and this time around is no exception. Ive continued to read every day as I normally do, but the problem is that its been very hard to concentrate, which has caused my reading to become more restless than usual. Ive found myself starting a book, but after getting Given the current unprecedented situation, the past few weeks have been one of the busiest and most difficult I’ve ever encountered — a sentiment I’m pretty sure many others also share at the moment. Reading has always been a solace for me and this time around is no exception. I’ve continued to read every day as I normally do, but the problem is that it’s been very hard to concentrate, which has caused my reading to become more “restless” than usual. I’ve found myself starting a book, but after getting a ways through it, my mind wanders, so I put the book down and, thinking perhaps it’s just not the right book for the moment, I start another one, only to have the same thing happen. As a result, I’ve got 4 or 5 books that I started and need to finish, though I’m resigned to the fact that it’s going to take longer than anticipated and also require more concentration on my part. One of the books I started during this time period is Alexandra Chang’s fictional novel Days of Distraction , which is a coming-of-adulthood tale based in large part on the author’s own life and personal experiences. The protagonist in the story is a twenty-something Chinese-American woman named Jing Jing (whom we later find out actually shares the same first name as the author) — she works as a writer for a tech publication in San Francisco, California, where she is, notably, one of only two women on the entire staff (the other woman is a photographer named Jasmine, who also happens to be Chinese-American and also Jing Jing’s closest work friend). Jing Jing lives with her Irish American boyfriend J (he is referred to only by his one initial throughout the entire story), who is a research associate at a lab where he spends hours on end with mostly scientists and mice. Jing Jing is very close with her family — her mother and younger sister and brother who live near her, as well as her dad, who moved back to China after a not-so-amicable divorce from her mother. When J gets accepted to grad school in New York, Jing Jing decides to move across the country with him, leaving behind her family and her job in a bustling city to settle in the small, quiet, upstate town of Ithaca. Along the way, mostly to pass the time, Jing Jing begins acquainting herself with stories about her ancestral heritage as well as those of other Asian Americans in history, which leads her on a journey of self-reflection, especially as it pertains to her relationship with her boyfriend J. Plot-wise, this is what I would call a quiet, slow-burn type of story where nothing much actually happens. The closest thing to “action” that ever occurs is the brief “road trip” that Jing Jing and J take across the country for their move. Aside from that, majority of the story consists of Jing Jing’s observations about the mostly mundane everyday things going on around her, and later, it shifts to reflections about her identity within a society that, for the most part, doesn’t realize she exists. The format of the story was one of the main things I had to get used to, as it was told in a way that required a little bit more attention than normal — narrated by Jing Jing in the first person, the narrative jumped around quite a bit, with short sections that at times felt anecdotal, interspersed throughout with excerpts from various articles or other things that Jing Jing happened to be reading at the time. In hindsight, given the format, this was probably not the best choice of book to read during this time period, but it paid off in the end because the story was one that resonated with me, and the characters too, I felt a connection to. While Jing Jing did come off as annoying at times (mostly in those situations where she would debate things back and forth extensively in her mind but then not take any action), she was a character I was able to relate to on many levels. With that said though, my favorite characters in the story were actually Jing Jing’s mom and dad (especially her dad, whose hilarious quips about society and culture always made me chuckle) — what I loved most was how the parents were written in a way where they did not come across as traditional, stereotypical Asian (specifically Chinese) parents, yet they were still such an important source of cultural insight for Jing Jing (and the reader as well). In most of the contemporary stories I read where there’s a young Asian protagonist at the center of the story, the parents are often portrayed in a very “traditional” manner, which isn’t necessarily wrong of course, since there are plenty of Asian parents like that, but on the other side of the coin, there are also many Asian parents who, like Jing Jing’s mom and dad, embody both cultural sentiments as well as modern sensitivities — it was definitely refreshing to see an Asian author tackle this aspect.On the surface, this may seem like another “immigrant story” that centers around the protagonist’s struggle with identity and belonging, but it actually goes so much deeper than that. In addition to identity and immigration, it is also a commentary of sorts on several hot button societal issues such as racism, politics, interracial relationships, family dynamics, economics, history, culture and tradition, etc. What made this work for me was the subtleness of the commentary, presented in a way where it was essentially a neutral relaying of facts — rather than “preach” about society’s injustices and try to steer the reader toward a certain direction, the author — through the narrator’s experiences as well as references from history — offers up examples in a non-judgmental manner and let’s the reader decide for themselves. This is one of those books where the reaction will be different depending on the audience. I definitely enjoyed this book and highly recommend it, though with the caveat that it may not resonate with others as much as it did with me. I look forward to seeing more from this author in the future! Received ARC from Ecco (HarperCollins) via Edelweiss.
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  • Nenia ❤️️ I hate everything you love ❤️️ Campbell
    January 1, 1970
    New adult literary fiction about smug tech culture????YES
  • Jenny (Reading Envy)
    January 1, 1970
    This book took me a while to read (I kept getting distracted, harhar) - the Asian American narrator is working in a job she is good at but doesn't necessarily like but also has her stuck unable to get a raise - and then she moves across the country with her boyfriend for his grad school. She reflects on the living invisibility of not being white, in the tech world but also in her relationship. She examines the lives of some early Asian immigrants and wonders if she will ever be fully known. Most This book took me a while to read (I kept getting distracted, harhar) - the Asian American narrator is working in a job she is good at but doesn't necessarily like but also has her stuck unable to get a raise - and then she moves across the country with her boyfriend for his grad school. She reflects on the living invisibility of not being white, in the tech world but also in her relationship. She examines the lives of some early Asian immigrants and wonders if she will ever be fully known. Most of the book is pretty light on plot and while I appreciated the thought piece I'm not sure it worked best as a novel, as everything but the narrator seems peripheral to the point. It moves pretty slowly up until when she visits her father in China and that gives her the chance to think about everything from a removed perspective (and to experience the discomfort of not fitting in where her family comes from either since she was born in California.)I had a copy from the publisher through Edelweiss; it came out March 31.
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  • The Artisan Geek
    January 1, 1970
    9/3/20Days of Distraction - what a stellar debut novel! The story follows a Chinese-American who as a fairly recent graduate works as a technology reporter in Silicon Valley. We get to watch as she deals with all of the crap that comes with the job: office politics, racism, misogyny etc. Then when her boyfriend J gets offered a PhD position in a remote town in upstate New York, she decides to pack her bags and join him. As time progresses she explores her identity, reflected on the past of those 9/3/20Days of Distraction - what a stellar debut novel! The story follows a Chinese-American who as a fairly recent graduate works as a technology reporter in Silicon Valley. We get to watch as she deals with all of the crap that comes with the job: office politics, racism, misogyny etc. Then when her boyfriend J gets offered a PhD position in a remote town in upstate New York, she decides to pack her bags and join him. As time progresses she explores her identity, reflected on the past of those that came before her. This was such an amazing read. Stunning, stunning, stunning! Not a stone is left unturned as Chang explores all of the nuances that come with being a woman of colour and the constant struggle of trying to carve out a life for yourself, but at the same time being forced to see yourself through the lens of others. This has definitely been one of the most relatable books I've read. Also as someone who has worked in tech being the only woman and poc in the team, the first part was so triggering lmao.8/3/20Thank you Ecco for gifting me a copy of this book :)5/12/19This book is will be here in my hands in less than two weeks. Weehoo! Can't wait!! :D 29/11/19'What does it mean to exist in a society that does not notice or understand you?'I have seen this book float around on book twitter and bookstagram and now I'm super curious to have a read.You can find me onYoutube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website
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  • Jerrie (redwritinghood)
    January 1, 1970
    Days of Distraction captures that time in life when youre kind of settled in your job and start wondering how and why you got there. A cross-country move with a long-term partner makes the narrator start to analyze her life more, focusing on the cultural aspects of her mixed-race relationship, her parents relationship, and what really matters to her. There is not a lot of action here, but I enjoyed following along as the narrator tried to sort out these big life puzzles. Days of Distraction captures that time in life when you’re kind of settled in your job and start wondering how and why you got there. A cross-country move with a long-term partner makes the narrator start to analyze her life more, focusing on the cultural aspects of her mixed-race relationship, her parents’ relationship, and what really matters to her. There is not a lot of action here, but I enjoyed following along as the narrator tried to sort out these big life puzzles.
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  • BookOfCinz
    January 1, 1970
    Days of Distraction is Alexandra Changs debut novel that explores the life of a Chinese-American millennial living and working in San Francisco as a Tech Writer. She is at a point in her life where she needs to make decision, do she continue working as a Tech Writer even though she is underappreciated, not well paid, the office politics and racial tension is a lot to handle. Or, does she jump at the chance to make a fresh start with her boyfriend who is a PHD student looking to start a new Days of Distraction is Alexandra Chang’s debut novel that explores the life of a Chinese-American millennial living and working in San Francisco as a Tech Writer. She is at a point in her life where she needs to make decision, do she continue working as a Tech Writer even though she is underappreciated, not well paid, the office politics and racial tension is a lot to handle. Or, does she jump at the chance to make a fresh start with her boyfriend who is a PHD student looking to start a new programme. She goes between the two choices, weighing the pros and cons, getting feedback from her family, especially her mother and father. In Days of Distraction Chang does an impeccable job of showing what life is like for a Chinese American, the racial tension, the cultural references that are all wrong, how people generally treat Chinese. At one point in the book the protagonist asked the question to herself Have I made myself this accommodating? A harmless vessel for their confusion and rage? They must see me as soft and small and unthreatening, because I have never suggested otherwise. . We see how the character tries to stand up for herself, to carve out a path but there is always some opposition. I LOVED the writing in this book. The characters are fully formed and they STICK with you. Chang writes from a place of knowledge with soo much insight. I strongly recommend this read! What I learned reading this book Also, it isn’t “shoe in,” it’s “shoo-in” as in to shoo somebody in a certain direction.
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  • Brian
    January 1, 1970
    What a funny, energetic, and insightful read. This is the relationship novel for our alienated age. Chang shows us a young Chinese American woman who, as she leaves behind her tech-reporter job in San Francisco for unknowns in upstate New York, struggles to define herself as an individual to her white boyfriend, to her co-workers, to her family, to herself, and must decide what is worth loving at a time when nothing feels real. Id recommend this to anyone who wants to read a book that feels very What a funny, energetic, and insightful read. This is the relationship novel for our alienated age. Chang shows us a young Chinese American woman who, as she leaves behind her tech-reporter job in San Francisco for unknowns in upstate New York, struggles to define herself as an individual to her white boyfriend, to her co-workers, to her family, to herself, and must decide what is worth loving at a time when nothing feels real. I’d recommend this to anyone who wants to read a book that feels very now.People who liked Offill’s Dept. of Speculation and Khong’s Goodbye, Vitamin will want to read this, as it also has that same literary-yet-accessible vibe. Also, because of the narrator’s darkly funny wit, I often thought of Renata Adler’s Speedboat. For example, one of many great lines: “I’ve seen Mark Zuckerberg a few times in person, but never close enough to examine the pores in his skin or the pupils of his eyes, so I’m not certain he has either.”Some random stuff…The fragmented structure is smooth and propulsive. The dialogue has such rhythm to it. And the politics of the book are complicated, never reductive.
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  • Mary Ryan
    January 1, 1970
    I give Days of Distraction by Alexandra Chang my highest recommendation. This book explores topics of race, work, love, and family as experienced by young people today. It is funny and thoughtful and thought provoking. It would make a great book club selection as it is a perfect conversational base for so many important topics of our time. Its a compelling read, I devoured it in one big gulp. I give Days of Distraction by Alexandra Chang my highest recommendation. This book explores topics of race, work, love, and family as experienced by young people today. It is funny and thoughtful and thought provoking. It would make a great book club selection as it is a perfect conversational base for so many important topics of our time. It’s a compelling read, I devoured it in one big gulp.
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  • Mila
    January 1, 1970
    The digital arc of this book was kindly provided by the publisher via Edelweiss+ website in exchange for an honest review.3,75 starsI quite liked this book, especially the first part of it that is set in San-Francisco. The writing was good, I even highlighted some nice quotes and sayings. But after some time, the main character started to grate on my nerves a lot, I understood her concerns and struggles or at least tried to, but she was being such a negative Nancy and at some point, I didn't The digital arc of this book was kindly provided by the publisher via Edelweiss+ website in exchange for an honest review.3,75 starsI quite liked this book, especially the first part of it that is set in San-Francisco. The writing was good, I even highlighted some nice quotes and sayings. But after some time, the main character started to grate on my nerves a lot, I understood her concerns and struggles or at least tried to, but she was being such a negative Nancy and at some point, I didn't want to read about her anymore. However, I understand that I'm not this books's primary reading audience so if you think you're - then you might enjoy this novel a lot more.
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  • Scott Alumbaugh
    January 1, 1970
    This is really a wonderful book. I would say it is a quiet book, but thats true only on the surface. Nothing big happens: there are no deaths, no global disasters, no terminal diseases. But under the surface of the relatively mundane plot, we get to experience the main characters richly complex internal and interpersonal relationships, as well as the external forces operating on both.In this context, Ms. Changs strength is using straightforward prose to convey this turmoil. She doesnt try to This is really a wonderful book. I would say it is a “quiet” book, but that’s true only on the surface. Nothing big happens: there are no deaths, no global disasters, no terminal diseases. But under the surface of the relatively mundane plot, we get to experience the main character’s richly complex internal and interpersonal relationships, as well as the external forces operating on both.In this context, Ms. Chang’s strength is using straightforward prose to convey this turmoil. She doesn’t try to shout down injustice or prejudice or ignorance. Instead, she holds examples up for the reader to view, which is far more engrossing.One thing in particular I really appreciated about this story is the narrator’s relationship with “J.” It is a warm, loving relationship, treated tenderly, without sentimentality. It is a relationship I wanted to spend hundreds of pages in. The relationship is not conflict-free–the couple’s closeness raises issues for the narrator to contend with–but it was refreshing to spend time with characters who want to work things out.Structurally, the book reminded me of Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli. There is also an extended section with the narrator’s father, and Ms. Chang’s adeptness at conveying his personality through dialogue reminded me of The Dog of the South by Charles Portis.Other reviewers will give more details abut the plot, and maybe even better literary references. I would just summarize by saying this novel is very readable–even though the themes are anything but lightweight–and would recommend it to anyone I know.
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  • Fanna
    January 1, 1970
    March 10, 2020: ✔ a perfect blend of humour and sincerity✔ complexities of the Asian-American life as seen today✔ observations on race, technology, and relationships✔ highly acclaimed debut novelMentioned on the blog: Fanticipating Reads of March 2020 | Five Under-Hyped Diverse Books To Look Out For This Month
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  • C Zhang
    January 1, 1970
    Searching, wise, honest, beautiful. A novel that lingers, with characters that feel so whole.
  • Anne
    January 1, 1970
    A new literary generation Alexandra Chang is from Northern California, grew up in San Francisco, Shanghai and Davis, and currently lives in Ithaca, upstate New York. She graduated from UC Berkeley and received her MFA from Syracuse University in 2018. Before she started writing fiction she worked as a staff writer for Cornell University, WIRED and Macworld, where she covered technology, science and research. Her fiction has appeared in Zoetrope: All-Story, Glimmer Train, LARB Quarterly Journal, A new literary generation Alexandra Chang is from Northern California, grew up in San Francisco, Shanghai and Davis, and currently lives in Ithaca, upstate New York. She graduated from UC Berkeley and received her MFA from Syracuse University in 2018. Before she started writing fiction she worked as a staff writer for Cornell University, WIRED and Macworld, where she covered technology, science and research. Her fiction has appeared in Zoetrope: All-Story, Glimmer Train, LARB Quarterly Journal, Catapult, and elsewhere. Her debut novel Days of Distraction will be published March 31, 2020 by Ecco/HarperCollins. Jing Jing, main character of the book has a lot in common with Chang. She also moves from San Francisco, via Davis, to Ithaca, spent some of her younger years in Shanghai and visits her dad in Hong Kong. Jing Jing has some typical end-twenties- or millennial-problems and some current themes as diversity and emancipation will be very recognizable for the reader. Also, the book feels a bit like reading a diary, being very honest and raw about life as a twentysomething in this current day and age. Jing Jing has a minority background; her parents are Chinese. This background and her search for how this influences her current life is a big part of the story. Which makes this debut novel more than a simple coming-of-age-novel. Jing Jing is in a relationship with a white guy, J. and when she follows him to go and live in Ithaca, start a journey, a new life, a new beginning, instead she seems to be only losing herself bit by bit. “When we talked about race, we did so mostly from a distance or as a joke, like something that could not touch the depths of this combined entity that was ‘us’. But I know we do not and cannot exist outside of it. I know I am guilty of avoiding, or not completing, the conversations. That might still be our problem.”Chang addresses some very important questions regarding stereotyping and diversity, especially in a job context. Questions like, who do you hire when different minorities apply for a job? Do you take the woman, the gay person or someone with another minority background and what do these people that plea for diversity want exactly, should we hire people because of their skills and abilities or just because they fit the right kind of box?However, not all questions and problems raised in Days of Distraction are related to race or background necessarily. Jing Jing gets paid far less than her male colleagues and does not have any job stability as a freelance staff writer but every time she tries to stand up for herself, nobody seems to listen and colleagues are far to scared of losing the little security even this freelance job gives them to complain. This a problem relatable to many (female) millennials. Chang’s writing is easy and simple and at the same time she knows how to raise the right questions and themes. The story of Jing Jing is alternated with stories of her family’s history, quotes from articles about other Asian Americans and how they adapted to American culture and quotes from articles about women in interracial relationships. Sometimes the bigger picture gets missing in the short paragraphs that alternate quickly between snippets of storylines. Slowly history and present are starting to intertwine and while Jing Jing is searching for excuses to break up her relationship with J. in stories from other interracial relationships, she seems to forget to live a life of her own. While blaming everything on ‘the cultural gap’, she forgets some important other problems, like the two of them not talking to each other at all about important stuff within their relationship. “The notion that interracial relationships with white people could solve the problems of racism – that, we don’t even consider.”Days of Distraction is about the search for a future and the history of a young female with a minority background. A search for a job, a place to live, a solid relationship and a way to live your life. It is very relatable to readers that are the same age as Jing Jing, probably even more so for readers in this age with a minority background. Alexandra Chang introduces a new literary voice that fits a new generation of readers. Days of Distraction is a novel about our current society and the lives we all live, and it is an empowering novel for young women around the world. - Many thanks to the publisher for making an ARC available for this review through Edelweiss+
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  • Kristina
    January 1, 1970
    It is difficult to parse which parts of me come from my family, from being Chinese, from being Asian American, from being American, from being a woman, from being of a certain generation, and from, simply, being. I liked this book a bit, but didnt love it. Its contemporary. Alexandra Changs Days of Distraction felt just like that to me - I felt distracted. I didnt quite know if I was reading about JJs life or if it was just mere fragments or memories of it. I suppose that was the authors “It is difficult to parse which parts of me come from my family, from being Chinese, from being Asian American, from being American, from being a woman, from being of a certain generation, and from, simply, being.” I liked this book a bit, but didn’t love it. It’s contemporary. Alexandra Chang’s Days of Distraction felt just like that to me - I felt distracted. I didn’t quite know if I was reading about JJ’s life or if it was just mere fragments or memories of it. I suppose that was the author’s intention. JJ’s been with her white boyfriend J of 5 years, but she suddenly starts to think about herself, his whiteness, and interracial couples - with her research widely expanding from there. Aside from the minimal prose, Chang intersperses articles, interviews, quotes, and essays showing the racist and often ignorant comments of white people through Chinese and Asian American experiences. There were many parts I enjoyed like reading about her parents and their lifestyle, but I felt bogged down by a lot of the emptiness. It’s probably because of the timing.Chang is a talented writer, but this just seemed too bleak for me. I also wish the ending had been different.
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  • Sachi Argabright
    January 1, 1970
    DAYS OF DISTRACTION follows a young woman working for a tech publication in Silicon Valley who decides to follow her longtime boyfriend across the country to upstate New York. While the new environment is expected to bring much needed peace to her life, our narrator finds that it starts to expose the flaws in her interracial relationship. In a story that highlights what its like to live in a community where you feel like you dont belong, our protagonist goes on a journey of self-discovery and DAYS OF DISTRACTION follows a young woman working for a tech publication in Silicon Valley who decides to follow her longtime boyfriend across the country to upstate New York. While the new environment is expected to bring much needed peace to her life, our narrator finds that it starts to expose the flaws in her interracial relationship. In a story that highlights what it’s like to live in a community where you feel like you don’t belong, our protagonist goes on a journey of self-discovery and finding support from the people that matter most.While 2020 might be falling apart, it’s still the year of awesome Asian American releases. DAYS OF DISTRACTION is no exception. While many authors include examples of blatant racism in their narratives, Chang artfully weaves microaggressions into her story, which can be just as hurtful and damaging. Chang also highlights other important issues I haven’t seen in mixed together in one novel such as capitalism and materialism, how contracted employees are treated versus full time individuals, the model minority myth, and the difficulty women have getting promoted even when they have endorsements from the right individuals.In addition to these themes centered around the workplace, there is also the focus on interracial relationships (specifically Asian female and white male). I haven’t read many books that outwardly feature this subject, and analyze both the dynamics of the individuals in the relationship as well as how they are treated by the people around them. I was able to relate to these parts personally, but also because my parents had this same dynamic and suffered some of the same issues. My only complaints are that the section in Ithaca was a little too slow for me, and I didn’t think the ending of the book was as impactful as the beginning.Overall, a strong debut and I’m interested to see what Chang will write next. Great for readers who are interested in the issues mentioned above, or anyone who has ever felt disconnected to the world around them.
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  • Shakarean
    January 1, 1970
    What a lovely novel! The two aspects that really drew me into this book was the narrator and the style. First, the narrator. I kinda love her. She feels very real, very knowing of herself in the world, but not knowing exactly what she wants to do with herself in the world. A more dismissive review will call her a very millennial character, but thats not it for me. Shes very much a mid-20s young woman who is trying to fully understand herself, her relationships, and her family while in the midst What a lovely novel! The two aspects that really drew me into this book was the narrator and the style. First, the narrator. I kinda love her. She feels very real, very knowing of herself in the world, but not knowing exactly what she wants to do with herself in the world. A more dismissive review will call her a very millennial character, but that’s not it for me. She’s very much a mid-20s young woman who is trying to fully understand herself, her relationships, and her family while in the midst of a greater societal examination of gender and race. There were so many moments I felt myself nodding along to the narrator and her wonderings of her boyfriend, her friendships, her job, etc and just how much race factors into these situations. I also loved the voice of the narrator, very straightforward, it felt like I was talking to her in real-time as she told me her story. The story reads as very personal to the narrator. As to style, what I enjoyed, and I think is to the benefit of this novel, is that it reads as just the telling of someone’s life in real-time. I enjoyed the chapter less style and how the novel was divided into sections that represented important moments within the year or two of the narrator’s life. I read it very much as the day to day moments of the narrator. I want to pick up in ten years, when the narrator in her mid-30s, and see what’s happened to her and what’s going on in her life. Such a wonderful book!
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  • Preeti
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed this debut novel! It had some great commentary on race as it follows an Asian American woman tech writer. There was a huge focus on interracial relationships which I found very interesting and not discussed enough in literary fiction. At times the writing felt choppy because of the insertion of article clippings and research the protagonist was doing. I still highly recommend this book for anyone who is into slow literary fiction books with themes of family, love and I really enjoyed this debut novel! It had some great commentary on race as it follows an Asian American woman tech writer. There was a huge focus on interracial relationships which I found very interesting and not discussed enough in literary fiction. At times the writing felt choppy because of the insertion of article clippings and research the protagonist was doing. I still highly recommend this book for anyone who is into slow literary fiction books with themes of family, love and relationships.Thanks to Edelweiss and Ecco books for the e-ARC!
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  • Julia
    January 1, 1970
    Such a graceful, stylish & totally absorbing novel. It worked on me so quickly that I hardly realized I was inhaling the book, as though the struggles brought up here of disillusionment, freedom, self-possession, loneliness had become as intoxicating to take in as a drug. Ostensibly about a young Chinese-American woman moving cross country along with her white boyfriend (who is entering a PhD program) the book quickly develops into a witty deliberation on the negotiation of political context Such a graceful, stylish & totally absorbing novel. It worked on me so quickly that I hardly realized I was inhaling the book, as though the struggles brought up here— of disillusionment, freedom, self-possession, loneliness— had become as intoxicating to take in as a drug. Ostensibly about a young Chinese-American woman moving cross country along with her white boyfriend (who is entering a PhD program) the book quickly develops into a witty deliberation on the negotiation of political context in developing personal history, the pitfalls of interracial love, and the search for a livable self amid a wasteland of "well-meaning" racists and demeaning work prospects. This was so good, and I hope it finds as wide a readership as it deserves.
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  • Daniel
    January 1, 1970
    Days of Distraction follows the life of a young woman as she deals with the struggles of work, friends, and family. It explores the uncertainties and insecurities of adulthood and highlights what it means to be an Asian American woman in today's world. Melancholic and beautiful, the book finds a depth of emotion in the everyday that is not easily forgotten.
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  • April
    January 1, 1970
    3.5This book has so many intersectional layers and complexities, and I loved that about it. It was about race and whiteness and anti-Blackness and the model minority stigma. It was about gender identity and gendered roles and expectations in hetero relationships. It was about class. It was about the immigrant experience and xenophobia and culture and assimilation. Its about generational divides and reconciliation. Its about history and the future. And all of this is couched in the experiences of 3.5This book has so many intersectional layers and complexities, and I loved that about it. It was about race and whiteness and anti-Blackness and the model minority stigma. It was about gender identity and gendered roles and expectations in hetero relationships. It was about class. It was about the immigrant experience and xenophobia and culture and assimilation. It’s about generational divides and reconciliation. It’s about history and the future. And all of this is couched in the experiences of the narrator as she navigates her life and relationships. My experiences as a woman of color are not the same as this narrator’s; and yet, there were many points of convergence in the ways we each have had to learn to live as women of color in a white and male dominated world. All the same, I was surprised by how little I enjoyed reading someone else’s similar yet different engagement of this struggle. As the narrator meanders through her thoughts and experiences, there were many moments where walking through these familiar instances with her just felt tedious rather than comforting. And I don’t fault the writer; but rather I realize that it’s a lot harder to sit in witness of a familiar struggle when you’ve already got your own. So that being said, I think this book can be very instructive for white folks, as outsiders looking in. And I appreciate the author sharing her experiences in this way. But for other People of the Global Majority (People of Color), especially those who identify as women, you may want to take time and care in deciding to read this one. It can be both encouraging and frustrating to read through.
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  • Eunice Moral
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 rounded up "Honest, raw and relevant." Days of Distraction follows a Chinese American's journey from living in San Francisco as a tech writer to moving to Ithaca, New York with her boyfriend and then travelling to China and Hong Kong to spend time with her father. Alexandra is a daughter of Chinese immigrants, who is on the cusp of figuring out what she really wanted in life. Days of Distraction presented an honest commentaries on race, especially the trials and tribulations, the 3.5 rounded up "Honest, raw and relevant." Days of Distraction follows a Chinese American's journey from living in San Francisco as a tech writer to moving to Ithaca, New York with her boyfriend and then travelling to China and Hong Kong to spend time with her father. Alexandra is a daughter of Chinese immigrants, who is on the cusp of figuring out what she really wanted in life. Days of Distraction presented an honest commentaries on race, especially the trials and tribulations, the prejudices towards Asians in the US. This book is more character driven than plot driven, some may say that this book may have been a bit dragging at some parts, myself included. It focused more on the narrator's experiences, reflections and struggles and how she was able to react or adapt to each one. The tone of the book is more like a friend telling you her life story, or at least a fraction of it. Stories about immigrants, for me, can never gain the same impact and reaction from all readers, there are always some things lost in the way and Asians will appreciate it more than non-Asians. And this is not about the reading preferences but more anchored upon solidarity in sharing the same experiences and same culture. This novel felt like part memoir which only added to the beauty of it. I also love the passages at the start of every chapter. I listened to this one on audio book and I really appreciated the narrator, very easy on the ears, sometimes she sounds like Meghan Markle. Definitely will watch out for Alexandra Chang's works.
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  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    i have a story about this book. i started it a few days ago & decided to set it aside. the writing was beautiful but the story was not pulling me in. last night when i got into bed i forgot The Glass Hotel upstairs & i didn't want to get out of bed to get it (view spoiler)[real talk (hide spoiler)]. this book was still on my nightstand & i remembered reading in the LA times that Kevin Wilson said it was brilliant. i decided to try again & ended up reading most of it last night. i i have a story about this book. i started it a few days ago & decided to set it aside. the writing was beautiful but the story was not pulling me in. last night when i got into bed i forgot The Glass Hotel upstairs & i didn't want to get out of bed to get it (view spoiler)[real talk (hide spoiler)]. this book was still on my nightstand & i remembered reading in the LA times that Kevin Wilson said it was brilliant. i decided to try again & ended up reading most of it last night. i finished it up this morning & definitely will recommend this book. the observations about race, tech, & relationships are nuanced and complex. it is such an honest look at a young woman's experience as she makes her way into young adulthood.
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  • Kristin
    January 1, 1970
    I really loved this. The novel is a combination of small daily experiences written alongside an investigation of interracial relationships in America and the narrators struggle to figure out what she wants her life to look like. I loved exploring her relationships with her family, her struggles settling into a new place, the ups and downs of her relationship, and learning more about Americas past. It wasnt a hard read, but it touched on so many things. I really loved this. The novel is a combination of small daily experiences written alongside an investigation of interracial relationships in America and the narrator’s struggle to figure out what she wants her life to look like. I loved exploring her relationships with her family, her struggles settling into a new place, the ups and downs of her relationship, and learning more about America’s past. It wasn’t a hard read, but it touched on so many things.
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  • Jasmine
    January 1, 1970
    Days of Distraction follows a mid-20s Chinese-American woman during her quarter life crisis of sorts. Shes deciding whether to stay at a job where shes underpaid & one of 3 WOC (relatable content) or if she should move across the country to support her boyfriend as he starts his PhD in Ithaca. The novel also explores the dynamic of being an Asian woman in an interracial relationship & dealing with microaggressions both in your relationship and at work. It brought me back to all the Days of Distraction follows a mid-20s Chinese-American woman during her quarter life crisis of sorts. She’s deciding whether to stay at a job where she’s underpaid & one of 3 WOC (relatable content) or if she should move across the country to support her boyfriend as he starts his PhD in Ithaca. The novel also explores the dynamic of being an Asian woman in an interracial relationship & dealing with microaggressions both in your relationship and at work. It brought me back to all the uncertainties of my mid-20s (thank God that chapter is over) and navigating complex family relationships as an adult (and the eldest girl in an immigrant fam!!). The author did a great job of weaving in archival history of interracial relationships in the US, but honestly there’s not much that happens in the book & it felt like it was a 100 pages too long, which was why this wasn’t rated higher for me.
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  • Daniel Dao
    January 1, 1970
    Oh my god this book is AMAZING. There are layers to this book. It's hilarious, incisive, and downright honest. There were moments where I was laughing at how realistic the race relations were portrayed and there were points where I felt like my heart was reeling for the narrator. A beautiful portrayal of what it means to be Asian American in a white-tech hetero-centric-neoliberal-hellscape.
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  • Oscreads
    January 1, 1970
    Fascinating story! Really enjoyed this one.
  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    What an impressive debut novel! This story follows a Chinese-American millennial, recently graduated and working in technology reporting in the Silicon Valley. Her boyfriend gets an offer to transfer to upstate New York and she sees the move as an opportunity to run away. As the story progresses we get to see her explore her identity, and her past.Chang blew me away with her writing. It was funny and insightful. She explores big themes of race, family, love and work. Highly recommended!Available What an impressive debut novel! This story follows a Chinese-American millennial, recently graduated and working in technology reporting in the Silicon Valley. Her boyfriend gets an offer to transfer to upstate New York and she sees the move as an opportunity to run away. As the story progresses we get to see her explore her identity, and her past.•Chang blew me away with her writing. It was funny and insightful. She explores big themes of race, family, love and work. Highly recommended!Available March 31st!!•Thank You to the publisher for sending me this book opinions are my own. •For more of my book content check out instagram.com/bookalong
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  • Maxine Chung
    January 1, 1970
    GLORIOUS!
  • Danna
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars, rounded up. Days of Distraction follows Alexandra from San Francisco to Ithaca to Hong Kong. Alexandra grew up in California, daughter to two Chinese-American parents who immigrated to the United States in their twenties. At the novel's onset, Alexandra is working as a contract writer for a San Francisco tech firm. She's underpaid, underappreciated, and generally frustrated with her life circumstance. However, the frustration is a low simmer, never reaching a boiling point that will 3.5 stars, rounded up. Days of Distraction follows Alexandra from San Francisco to Ithaca to Hong Kong. Alexandra grew up in California, daughter to two Chinese-American parents who immigrated to the United States in their twenties. At the novel's onset, Alexandra is working as a contract writer for a San Francisco tech firm. She's underpaid, underappreciated, and generally frustrated with her life circumstance. However, the frustration is a low simmer, never reaching a boiling point that will spur action. To Alexandra's (questionable?) relief, her partner J's acceptance to a doctorate program at Cornell gives her a reason to leave the Bay Area and find a way to wrest satisfaction out of life. To her dismay, after the initial buzz of pretty waterfalls and spacious, inexpensive apartments wear off, Alexandra's underlying frustration seems to have mushroomed. She is peeved with J, acutely aware of race in every interaction, and working in a job that is quite possibly more miserable than the one she left behind.Initially, I wasn't impressed with Days of Distraction. As other reviewers have mentioned, this is a slow moving story that doesn't have a clear open-build-climax-finale arc. The writing is arty, and moves easily but not quickly. I found the first section, taking place in San Francisco, the most challenging to get through because its messaging was subtle and the plot was slow. However, once Alexandra and J arrive in Ithaca, Alexandra's awakening becomes clearer and I couldn't stop reading. From interactions with teachers in elementary school to passing conversations in coffee shops to the dynamics of an interracial relationship, Alexandra is opening the reader's eyes to the micro and macro-aggressions that occur in the course of daily living as a non-white in the United States. She intertwines her experiences with readings and news clips about Chinese Americans from the last hundred years, which seem to supply factual evidence for her feelings. That said, while this book is about very much about race, it is highly digestible. A lot of it, for me, read as a journey of self discovery through a better understanding of one's own race, ethnicity, and lineage. There is a lot more to unpack in Days of Distraction, and I won't attempt to analyze it all. There is, of course, J: the quintessential white male, who is at times gallant, sweet, clueless, and completely offensive. Then, the human piece of it, where he seems to love Alexandra deeply, and as a reader, you have to wonder if he can overcome his privilege and naivete to become woke enough to better keep up his half of an interracial partnership. There's Alexandra's parents, who she is closely tied to. Her father, who we get to know well enough in part three: alcoholic, rambling, and doting. Her mother and siblings. The one Chinese-American coworker among a sea of white men, Jasmine, who has sworn off dating white guys... again. If you're looking for action, fast-pace, a beach read, this is not it. But if you're interested in a keen observation on race and one Asian-American experience, I encourage you to give Days of Distraction a read.
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