You Are Here by Karin Lin-Greenberg
5/2/23; 304 pages
You Are Here by Karin Lin-Greenberg is a highly recommended character study set in a closing mall.
A dying shopping mall is the setting for this character study of five individuals who all have connections to the mall. Tina Huang, is the last remaining stylist at a Sunshine Clips. She always wanted to be an artist. Jackson Huang is Tina's nine-year-old son who comes to the salon every day and is secretly teaching himself magic tricks. Ro Goodson is a cantankerous elderly woman and Tina's last remaining regular customer. Ro has the gift of always saying the wrong thing. Ro's next-door neighbor, Kevin, is the manager of the bookstore and stalled on finishing his dissertation. He built a tiny house in his mother-in-laws backyard for his family. Ro judges him harshly. Maria is a high school senior who works at a chicken place and wants to be an actress. She is friends with Jackson.
What follows is a portrait of this diverse group of people that follows their daily lives along with their dreams. All of these characters are portrayed as distinct, fully realized, realistic individuals with strengths, dreams, and flaws. Chapters are told through the point-of-view of individual characters and this is what moves the plot along. You Are Here, however, is much more a character driven novel than a plot heavy narrative. Events happen that involved each character, including life changing events, but the main focus is the inner monologue of these individuals reacting to the events around them.
The chapters are all connected, but they also feel like individual stories collected together to make a novel. The first part of the novel is heavy on the character development with events advancing a connection to all of them in the plot, beyond the mall closing, happening later. I appreciate and relish excellent character development, which is present throughout the novel. You Are Here will be engaging and enjoyed by those who admire strong character development.
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