In these braided short stories, two girls come of age and learn friendship is both indispensable and a great challenge.
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If you were to tell the story of your relationship with your best friend, what moments would you share? The first time you met? The night she nursed your broken heart? The day you roped her into packing up your apartment? That party where you both had a bit too much to drink? These snapshots might be big life events, but chances are they’re more subtle than that—everyday moments made memorable by the fact that you had someone to witness them with.
In Fiona and Jane, Jean Chen Ho perfectly captures that magic—both beautiful and fraught—of being known by a lifelong friend. In interlinked stories that alternate between our protagonists, two Taiwanese American women who bonded as young girls in LA, we witness snapshots of their lives: the good, the bad, the seismic, and the quotidian. As each woman navigates family dramas, tumultuous romantic relationships, and shifting ambitions, the friends drift apart and come back together again and again.
These stories jump around in time and place, but the throughline for me was the way Fiona and Jane came alive on the page. As one story ended and another began, I grew more immersed in the events of their lives and intimacy of their dialogue. Like listening to a friend share a memory that shaped her, reading this collection requires paying attention to the subtle details. You might just find that in them lie truths about what it means to be human and to be shaped by those we love.
A witty, warm, and irreverent book that traces the lives of two young Taiwanese American women as they navigate friendship, sexuality, identity, and heartbreak over two decades.
Best friends since second grade, Fiona Lin and Jane Shen explore the lonely freeways and seedy bars of Los Angeles together through their teenage years, surviving unfulfilling romantic encounters and carrying with them the scars of their families’ tumultuous pasts. Fiona was always destined to leave, her effortless beauty burnished by fierce ambition—qualities that Jane admired and feared in equal measure. When Fiona moves to New York and cares for a sick friend through a breakup with an opportunistic boyfriend, Jane remains in California and grieves her estranged father’s sudden death, in the process alienating an overzealous girlfriend. Strained by distance and unintended betrayals, the women float in and out of each other’s lives, their friendship both a beacon of home and a reminder of all they’ve lost.
In stories told in alternating voices, Jean Chen Ho’s debut collection peels back the layers of female friendship—the intensity, resentment, and boundless love—to probe the beating hearts of young women coming to terms with themselves, and each other, in light of the insecurities and shame that hold them back.
Spanning countries and selves, Fiona and Jane is an intimate portrait of a friendship, a deep dive into the universal perplexities of being young and alive, and a bracingly honest account of two Asian women who dare to stake a claim on joy in a changing, contemporary America.