A sly, powerful, deeply moving novel about a female doctor forced by crisis to reckon with a life optimized for work, from the award-winning author of Chemistry.
Joan is a thirtysomething ICU physician at a busy New York City hospital. She’s a workaholic with little interest in having friends, let alone lovers, and her medical colleagues misread her dedication to work as ambition. The daughter of Chinese parents who immigrated to America to secure the American dream, Joan sometimes looks up and wonders where her true roots lie: at the hospital, where her white coat makes her feel needed, or with her family, who try to shape her life by their own social and cultural expectations.
After Joan and her brother, Fang, were grown, their parents moved back to China, hoping to live out the balance of their years in their homeland. But when Joan’s father suddenly dies, her mother returns for a visit to America, determined to connect with her daughter while staying at Fang’s sprawling Greenwich estate. The hospital, and life on the Upper West Side, provide Joan some cover—until things shift yet again. First an outspoken man moves into the apartment next door and tries to draw Joan out of her comfort zone, and into the lives of their neighbors. Then, the hospital’s new HR “wellness initiative” requires Joan to take a mandatory leave of absence, to foster a better work/life balance. On the cusp of the Chinese New Year and for lack of better options, Joan decamps to Fang’s to regain her equilibrium—until the day she must return to the city to face a crisis larger than anything she’s encountered before.
Witty, poignant, piercingly insightful, Joan Is Okay introduces us to a marvelously complicated woman who can’t be anyone but herself.