Release date: March 15, 2013
Publisher: NeWest Press
Thank you to NeWest Press for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Half-Asian teenager Grace (but she’d prefer it if you called her “Gray” instead) is not a perfect little supermom-in-the-making like her older sister Jessica, and would rather become a marine biologist than a mother—although she does understand how to take care of her special-needs kid brother Squid better than anyone else in her family. When her mother Belinda abruptly runs out on her family and flies across the Atlantic in order to study crop circles in the English countryside, Grace is left alone to puzzle out her life, the world, and her unique place within it. With a warmth and a boisterous sense of humour reminiscent of Miriam Toews’ A Complicated Kindness and Peter Hedges’ What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? author Corinna Chong introduces us to two lovable and thoroughly original female characters: persnickety, precocious Grace, and her impractical, impulsive mother Belinda—very different women who nevertheless persistently circle back into each other’s hearts.
Before I start the review proper, let me get a few cliches off my chest: Stunning debut. Unflinching. Courageous.
Belinda’s Rings is about a lot of things. It’s about being a parent and being a sibling and being a child. It’s about mental illness and race and marginalization. It’s about perfect circles on the ground and lights in the sky and creatures in the sea. But most of all, it’s about mothering. And in a media environment that is sorely lacking in any nuanced discussion of motherhood (“Mommy Wars,” anyone?) it is so satisfying to read a take on motherhood that had me nodding in agreement and wincing in horror all at once. Continue reading