Joan Is Okay by Weike Wang

Joan Is Okay is a short novel where not a lot happens, but a lot is brewing beneath the surface.


Joan is in her mid-thirties and an ICU attending doctor at a New York City hospital. Work is her happy place. She enjoys being a cog in the machine. Her parents are from China, while she was born in America. When Joan turned eighteen and was about to start university, her parents moved back to China, allowing their daughter to begin the next stage of her life independently. Now, years later, Joan’s father has just passed away, and her mother returns to the States to reconnect with her children.

Usually, Joan uses work as an excuse to dodge family or friend gatherings. However, now that she has some time off work, she can no longer find a plausible reason to avoid them. She watches as news of COVID first surfaces in Wuhan, China and as it quickly spreads across the globe.

As an Asian American, Joan has experienced the feeling that she belongs neither to America nor her Chinese heritage.

Review of Joan Is Okay

While this book deals with serious topics, it is also balanced with deadpan humour. It touches on racism, microaggressions, sexism, belonging, familial responsibilities, and more. The majority deals with Joan’s life and the last quarter discusses the emergence of COVID and how it affects her and the world. I’ve read a few fictional books that discuss COVID, but this one is probably the one that handles it the best without being overly triggering. Joan’s voice is mostly matter-of-fact, which makes it easier to read about this period.

I believe Joan is a character that will stay with me for some time to come. She is a quiet woman, but one firm in her beliefs.

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Expected Publication: 18 January 2022

Thank you to Random House for the arc provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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