Seeing Ghosts by Kat Chow [in Booklist]
Making her dual print and audio debut, journalist Kat Chow relies on words to resurrect her late mother – and lost family, by extension – who died of cancer in 2004. Not yet 50, her mother seemed to fulfill the superstition that the women in her family tended to die young: her mother’s mother passed away at 41.
With her two older sisters already off to college, 13-year-old Chow was left mostly alone with a distant father. Chow traces her mother’s life – her Chinese birth, Hong Kong escape, U.S. education and immigration, complicated marriage to Chow’s father, their premature son’s death before Chow’s birth, and their financial insecurities that likely hastened her early death. Once she’s gone, Chow continues to chase understanding and connections, which will eventually inspire family research trips to Hong Kong, China, even Cuba in search of a missing paternal grandfather.
As a former NPR reporter – a founding member of Code Switch and regular contributor to the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast – Chow undoubtedly has grown accustomed to being on air. That experience helps turn these printed pages into intimate, inviting storytelling.