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It’s Cecily’s year… the Year of the Pig. And this year, Cecily vows that something is going to change. The Year of Cecily is the first book in Lisa Lin‘s new romance series and was released just in time for this year’s Lunar New Year celebrations.

Lisa Lin’s new romance series, From Sunset Park with Love, features Chinese American women aiming to change their lives over the course of a year. The first book starts with lawyer Cecily Chang setting some New Year’s resolutions as she watches the ball drop in New York from her television in San Francisco. She begins to put those resolutions into place a month later when she heads home to New York to celebrate the Lunar New Year with her family.

Her resolutions are as follows:

  1. Avoid drama
  2. Better work/life balance
  3. Remain calm with family
  4. Make new friends
  5. Have more sex
  6. Start a new hobby
  7. Come up with an anniversary gift her mother will actually like
  8. Get out of her comfort zone

Given that her trip home starts with a strained Uber ride with the ex who dumped her 10 years ago only 3 months before their wedding, resolution number 1 is off to a rocky start. And the rest of the week spent trying to get some work done in her childhood bedroom while navigating her family, tests a few more of those resolutions. That’s okay thought, she can always start again when she gets back to San Francisco.

From the start of the Western New Year to the Chinese New Year celebrations and all the way to the following year’s ball drop in New York, The Year of Cecily takes it’s reader through a year in the life of a grown woman who’s stuck in a rut and looking for something different. Cecily wants to move on from her tragic romance with screenwriter Jeffrey Lee, but the way it ended has always been a loose thread dangling in her life. This year is the first time in 10 years that both of them have made it home for their families’ Lunar New Year celebrations. It’s the perfect chance for Cecily to get some closure and move on to finding a new guy she can work on resolution number 5 with… unless?

Personal Thoughts

I mostly enjoyed this read from Lisa Lin. I thought that the characters of Cecily and Jeffrey were very well written. Their childhood friendship that had grown into romance and then into enemies was very believable. Their banter and the way that they couldn’t set aside all those years of knowing each other seemed so realistic to me. Sometimes a person just knows you too well for you to hide yourself from them and that really came across in this story.

I listened to the audio version, and I’m not sure if it was a problem with the narrator or the writing, but some of the prose felt stilted. In general though, the story was fun and the main characters had great chemistry together. There was a slight tendency for the author to over explain the family traditions and foods. It’s great to have the details of the different dishes and holiday plans, but sometimes it felt like I was being “Asian-splained”. It was cool when the character was explaining something to a friend who was unfamiliar with Lunar New Year, but often the explanations were just part of a character’s thoughts and it seemed weird that a character who grew up in that tradition would be explaining it to themself in their head. There’s a way to share the details without assuming that the reader has zero knowledge of the culture being written about, and I think Lisa Lin could work on that a bit. I wanted to be immersed in the experience, and instead the explanations were taking me out of the moments.

The first two books in the From Sunset Park, With Love series

The next book in this series, The Rachel Experiment, is due out in May of this year. The character of Rachel was introduced in the first book as an attempt at Cecily’s resolution #4. I’m not sure if I like Rachel enough to carry a whole story on her own, but I’m willing to try. The Year of Cecily was a fun read. It was just an enjoyable story that I sped through in a couple of days. Kind of like most modern Cdrama romcoms, it was good and sweet like cotton candy. Enjoyable for what it was and easy to move on from. And like Cdrama romcoms, I’m always up for more of that sweetness.


2 Replies to “Book Review: The Year of Cecily”

  1. Adding to list. I enjoy friends to enemies(technically rivals) to lovers troupe done right. Plus anyone who makes list is good in my book lol.

    I’ll be waiting *maybe* for your Rachel review

    Great review❤️

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February 2023