Dear Fang, With Love is the kind of book that makes you want to climb into the author’s brain and explore: it’s bizarre, introspective, whimsical, and wildly smart.
Seventeen-year-old Vera is hyperintelligent, troubled, and droll. When she’s hospitalized after suffering a psychotic break at a high school party, her largely absent father, Lucas, takes her on a history tour of Vilnius, Lithuania, in an attempt to distract her from her diagnosis. Vilnius, the homeland of Lucas’s grandmother, is so charmingly specific in its culture, history, and eccentricities that both father and daughter are inspired into a sort of pilgrimage of identity reassessment. Lucas investigates his heritage and reevaluates his regret-ridden past while Vera navigates her shaky future.
Thorpe nimbly balances a slew of delightfully unusual plot lines so that each page is both charming and unexpected. One chapter delves into the relationship between Vera and her Mormon, Tongan boyfriend, Fang, and the next chapter recounts the life of Lucas’s Nazi-killing grandmother during the German occupation of the second World War. And every excursion is just as quirky and intriguing as the last.
Though it’s undeniably zany, Thorpe treats her story and characters with thoughtfulness and respect. She explores the role heritage plays in one’s identity, the nature of humanity, and the expression of different forms of love, all with a profound sense of wonderment. Once I started this book, I drew it out, languishing in its pages, not wanting Thorpe’s enchanting spell to end. Dear Fang, With Love is heartbreaking, hilarious, and utterly unforgettable.
You May Also Love