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Days of Distraction

4.65  ·  Rating details ·  57 ratings  ·  31 reviews
A wry, tender portrait of a young woman—finally free to decide her own path, but unsure if she knows herself well enough to choose wisely—from a captivating new literary voice

The plan is to leave. As for how, when, to where, and even why—she doesn’t know yet. So begins a journey for the twenty-four-year-old narrator ofDays of Distraction. As a staff writer at a prestigious
Hardcover, 320 pages
Expected publication: March 31st 2020 by HarperCollins
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Average rating 4.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  57 ratings  ·  31 reviews

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Jessica Woodbury
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: authors-of-color, arc
Some books are plotty and others can meander through a life, soft and spare. This is one of the latter and it's a genre I get very picky about. There has to be some grand design to it, some purpose, some theme, some character that makes it all feel worthwhile and Chang delivers. Her protagonist--a millennial, a tech writer, a child of Chinese immigrants--doesn't just accept her circumstances, but change can feel impossible. (Her repeated requests for a raise at her job where she is not even a ...more
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a funny, energetic, and insightful read. This is the relationship novel for our alienated age. Chang shows us a young Chinese American woman who, as she leaves behind her tech-reporter job in San Francisco for unknowns in upstate New York, struggles to define herself as an individual to her white boyfriend, to her co-workers, to her family, to herself, and must decide what is worth loving at a time when nothing feels real. I’d recommend this to anyone who wants to read a book that feels ...more
Mary Ryan
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I give Days of Distraction by Alexandra Chang my highest recommendation. This book explores topics of race, work, love, and family as experienced by young people today. It is funny and thoughtful and thought provoking. It would make a great book club selection as it is a perfect conversational base for so many important topics of our time. It’s a compelling read, I devoured it in one big gulp.
Scott Alumbaugh
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is really a wonderful book. I would say it is a “quiet” book, but that’s true only on the surface. Nothing big happens: there are no deaths, no global disasters, no terminal diseases. But under the surface of the relatively mundane plot, we get to experience the main character’s richly complex internal and interpersonal relationships, as well as the external forces operating on both.

In this context, Ms. Chang’s strength is using straightforward prose to convey this turmoil. She doesn’t try
The Artisan Geek
Nov 29, 2019 marked it as to-read
This book is will be here in my hands in less than two weeks. Weehoo! Can't wait!! :D

'What does it mean to exist in a society that does not notice or understand you?'
I have seen this book float around on book twitter and bookstagram and now I'm super curious to have a read.

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Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a lovely novel! The two aspects that really drew me into this book was the narrator and the style. First, the narrator. I kinda love her. She feels very real, very knowing of herself in the world, but not knowing exactly what she wants to do with herself in the world. A more dismissive review will call her a very millennial character, but that’s not it for me. She’s very much a mid-20s young woman who is trying to fully understand herself, her relationships, and her family while in the ...more
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Days of Distraction follows the life of a young woman as she deals with the struggles of work, friends, and family. It explores the uncertainties and insecurities of adulthood and highlights what it means to be an Asian American woman in today's world. Melancholic and beautiful, the book finds a depth of emotion in the everyday that is not easily forgotten.
C Zhang
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Searching, wise, honest, beautiful. A novel that lingers, with characters that feel so whole.
Kaycee Miller
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Reading Days of Distraction made me feel like I was chatting with an old friend over coffee or wine. The kind of conversation that moves from fun to serious and back again, and is deep, emotional, and light over the course of the night. Chang's story goes from gossiping about coworkers and relationships to sharing personal feelings about partners and thoughts on social issues and experiences.

There's a lot I found relatable - remembering that time in my 20s when I was in a job didn't love and
Maxine Chung
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wendy Chen
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely gorgeous mediation on experiencing life, love, family, and history as an Asian American woman. Each passage is so perfectly and beautifully crafted - many would not be out of place as prose poems on their own. DAYS OF DISTRACTION questions and examines so many, often painful, facets of society, race, gender, and the self. What does it mean to be in an interracial relationship? What does love look like in a family? How can we pave the way forward for ourselves and others? Chang ...more
Caitlin Hayes
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the many achievements of Days of Distraction is how easy it is to become invested in the everyday decisions, struggles, and ruminations of the narrator...Chang doesn't rely on big or sensational plot hooks but earns the interest of her reader with the more high-wire and sophisticated skills of keen observation, wit, warmth, and a structure that keeps surprising you. The result for me was an addictive and intimate read that explored how we can be both of our histories and different from ...more
Marion Franck
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a novel that feels real. The protagonist and several people in her life are believable and intriguing. The book also includes information about the Chinese in America that was interesting to me, even though I am not Chinese-American.

I almost can't believe this is Chang's first novel because her language is superb. Her sentences are so well-crafted that every word feels “right.”

I also liked learning more about the perspective of a Millennial, especially a woman looking for satisfying
Nora E
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Could this really be her first book? Excellent job of weaving stories from current day to the past. It read like I was being told a story in person. The honest and sometimes raw emotions expressed made me want to reach out and protect this girl/woman from subtle and overt racist behaviors. Being in a mixed race relationship, I could easily relate to the stares and comments from strangers as well as colleagues, both real and imagined. Having young adult children educated and working in the Bay ...more
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Such a graceful, stylish & totally absorbing novel. It worked on me so quickly that I hardly realized I was inhaling the book, as though the struggles brought up here— of disillusionment, freedom, self-possession, loneliness— had become as intoxicating to take in as a drug. Ostensibly about a young Chinese-American woman moving cross country along with her white boyfriend (who is entering a PhD program) the book quickly develops into a witty deliberation on the negotiation of political ...more
Vt Hung
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Days of Distraction will be one of the most important books of our generation so go out and get it now.

I finished Alexandra Chang's debut novel in one sitting and needed desperately to discuss it with someone, so I can't wait for other readers to discover her work. The voice, insight, and sensitivity of Days of Distraction made me laugh and cry, and I found myself thinking more deeply about love, inheritances, and cross-cultural relationships.

If you love Sheila Heti, Sigrid Nunez, and Valeria
James Beggarly
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant debut novel. A young woman quits her job as a tech reporter in San Francisco to follow her longtime boyfriend to graduate school in upstate New York. With time on her hands for the first time in her life, she thinks about who she is and what she’s doing with her life and examining the history of Chinese woman in America. All the while questioning life with her white boyfriend and trying to understand her extended Chinese family, with her siblings and mother in California and her father ...more
Amy Woolsey
Jan 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Alexandra Chang's debut novel often reads less like a story than a series of thoughts and incidents, but those disparate threads are woven with precision, creating a rich tapestry of life in contemporary society. The issue of loneliness in an age of global connectivity is hardly novel, but rarely has it been explored in such depth and with such specificity. For an Asian American reader like me, Chang's observations hit alarmingly close to home.
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Through her creative storytelling that weaves facts and anecdotes into the narrative, Chang reveals an story about a young woman struggling with her identity that is strikingly relatable to a fellow millennial. She captures aspects of young adulthood in a uniquely authentic manner, from the tension between individuality and partnerships to our generation's self-hating relationship with technology. Highly recommended.
Rita Weighall
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Days of Distraction takes you on the journey of a young Chinese American woman. You gain insights on the challenges of her professional career, her relationships, racial prejudices and her travels across the country and eventually her homeland. The author draws you in with real life situations and makes you think beyond the obvious. Her characters are believable, complex, loving and entertaining. I can’t wait for her next work of art!
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Days of Distraction is a gorgeous book. It delves into the complexities of what it means to feel at home in the world and how far a partner's understanding can go when it comes to different experiences. The prose is economical and pulls the reader along easily. There is nothing hyperbolic or excessive, and that creates a reprieve for the reader, and allows a unique immersion. Highly recommended.
Kelley Anne
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There's so much to love about Chang's debut novel: the excerpts of Asian American history and the weaving in of Yamei Kin's story.. and their connection to the narrator's personal struggles with identity. She beautifully portrayed the range of emotions we all feel about our loved ones, annoyed one second, guilty the next, and then enthralled with all over again.
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In this deeply personal coming-of-age tale for the modern day, Chang captures what it feels like to love and sometimes feel lost while navigating the daily stresses of our time. Days of Distraction perfectly summarizes the battles young women face in matters of the heart, their family, and career, while finding their way in their early 20s.
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Truly inspiring to read the work of a strong, smart, woman figuring out her place in this world. Chang's passion for understanding her circumstances are clear - I really enjoyed the historical excerpts of Asian women and relationships interwoven into her narrative. I'm a fan. Looking forward to her next novel.
Gina Keicher
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love this novel’s fragmented style, how it weaves reflections on the self, work, technology, relationships, Asian American history, capitalism, racism, and family. Alexandra Chang’s unwavering curiosity and compassion, result in a unique, deeply smart and feeling debut.
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Days of Distraction details a young woman's experience growing up Asian-American with wit and verve. You'll definitely want to pick up this smart, insightful and audacious read - not least because it's evident that Chang is poised to be an important voice in American lit.
Beth Lew-Williams
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
With a beautiful mix of fiction, history and (it seems) memoir, Alexandra Chang takes you on a winding meditation on interracial relationships, past and present. She an incredible knack for capturing the drama and insight of everyday life.
Laurie B.
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A well-written debut novel from a talented author! Chang's honest and insightful observations on the complexities of relationships resonate as universal truths. In illuminating one person's choices, the narrator provides hope for all young people navigating life's ups and downs.
Alison Amberg
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really captured that purgatorial time between your first job and what's next?!
Rick Jorgensen
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved the book.
I liked how it made me look at things from a perspective, so different than mine as a 60+ year old white guy.
I also really liked the cover.
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Alexandra Chang is from Northern California. She currently lives in upstate New York with her husband and their dog and cat.