MEMORY PIECE Is No Sophomore Slump


Kendra Winchester is a Contributing Editor for Book Riot where she writes about audiobooks and disability literature. She is also the Founder of Read Appalachia, which celebrates Appalachian literature and writing. Previously, Kendra co-founded and served as Executive Director for Reading Women, a podcast that gained an international following over its six-season run. In her off hours, you can find her writing on her Substack, Winchester Ave, and posting photos of her Corgis on Instagram and Twitter @kdwinchester.

Welcome to Read this Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that needs to jump onto your TBR pile! Sometimes these books are brand new releases that I don’t want you to miss, while others are some of my backlist favorites. This week, let’s talk about a stellar sophomore novel from Lisa Ko.

a graphic of the cover of Memory Piece of Lisa Ko

Memory Piece by Lisa Ko

When I first read Lisa Ko’s debut novel The Leavers, I felt completely consumed by the story of a young Chinese American man who had been adopted by white parents. Ko possesses this ability to flesh out her characters with such care and attention to detail. So the moment I heard that her second novel, Memory Piece, was coming out, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy.

It’s the 1980s, and three friends — Giselle Chin, Jackie Ong, and Ellen Ng — come of age determined to make their mark on the world. Giselle Chin is a performance artist, and even locked herself in a mall for an entire year, chronicling her experience for art’s sake. Jackie Ong is a programmer who creates her own social media space in her spare time. Ellen Ng is an activist, working to create a communal space for marginalized folks in need of a home.

The three women make their own ways in the world, each moving in and out of each other’s lives, for better or worse. The novel moves forward in time from the 1980s to the 2040s, showing the changes in the friends’ lives through the decades. I particularly loved how all three friends are so different, each with their particular quirks and interests. They fight, make up, and fight again, creating a unique friend group that holds up through the tests of time. 

Audie award-winning narrator Eunice Wong performs the audiobook beautifully. Each viewpoint character is distinct, each with her own narrative voice. I felt consumed by their story and found excuses to keep listening until the very end. Memory Piece is a must-read for anyone who loves women’s coming-of-age stories or complex, decades-long female friendships.

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