That Time I Loved You: Stories by Carrianne Leung [in Library Journal]
Toronto’s suburban Scarborough becomes home to diverse families ready to build a neighborhood together. Initially, everyone invited everyone else to “planned things like fireworks and barbecues,” observes 11-year-old June – the only daughter of Hong Kong Chinese immigrants – until “people decided who their friends were, and the invitations … stopped coming. It was same for us kids. … Things settled into routines.” And then the suicides began: “1979…was the year the parents in my neighbourhood began killing themselves.”
Through 10 interlinked stories, Carrianne Leung astutely exposes the lives behind closed doors of what looked like an ideal subdivision. June, who “thought too much and talked even more,” is the core linking friends and neighbors: BFF Josie, whose uncle’s “love” is anything but; her grandmother, who acknowledges something essential in another of June’s friends; Mrs. Da Silva, who finally says no to her abusive life; childless Francesca, who envies the impossibly perfect family next door; everyone’s helping hand Marilyn, who has sticky fingers; Darren, who rejects his racist teacher; and a teen neighbor who chooses to live.
Canadian Leung’s exquisitely sublime collection marks her Stateside debut; its well-deserved success should also give her 2013 novel, The Wondrous Woo, southern exposure.
Readers: Young Adult, Adult
Published: 2018 (Canada), 2019 (United States)