Friday 29 March 2019

That Time I Loved You by: Carrianne Leung

Genre: Short Fiction
Published: March 27, 2018 by: Harper Collins
Pages: 256
Rating: 5/5 stars

In a shiny new suburb in Scarborough, Ontario, Chinese-American adolescent June carefully watches the diverse population of her neighbourhood. Beneath the seemingly perfect exterior, each household on the block has their secrets, and, when a series of suicides ripple through the community, some secrets will be revealed.

I did not think I would love this book as much as I did! I actually had to read it for my creative writing course, and my class got to video chat with the author and ask her some questions. It was fascinating to hear her perspectives, and I definitely think that I want to read more of her writing.

Growing up in Toronto, I could really relate to the diverse population in the neighbourhood that Leung writes about, and this book really hit me hard. Not only was it gripping, and very shocking, but it also teaches some important lessons of coming of age, and how alike some cultures really are.

This book read like The Virgin Suicides by: Jeffrey Eugenides, but better. I am not a fan of that book as I think it romanticized suicide too much, but this novel handled the harsh theme perfectly. By using the backdrop of the suicides, Leung was able to open up these stories of various neighbours from many cultures in the community, and I truly felt bad for every single one of them. I think the really unique aspect of this short fiction, is how unified all of the stories are. Although each one is from a different character's perspective, they all come together in the end. I think that Leung is really talented in writing stories that come full circle, a technique that I have not yet mastered but that I admire in a lot of authors.

This novel has a lot of harsh themes. A big topic in the book is the aspect of secret keeping, and a lot of these secrets are extremely dark. However, Leung handles them very well. At the end of the novel, there is a strong aspect of hope, which I think is extremely important when handling subject matter such as this. Leung put a lot of thought and care into writing on these subjects.

Overall, as someone who doesn't read a lot of short fiction, this book does not read like it at all. The stories come together so well, that it takes on the format of the average novel. I flew through it and I think Leung is a really gifted writer.

Have you read That Time I Loved You? What did you think?

Emily @ Paperback Princess


  1. Glad to hear that the novel takes a good approach with a v. difficult topic. I always worry when it comes to dealing with suicide contagion in novels... it can really have a terrible affect on the local area. I grew up in an area with a suicide contagion problem and the news reporting was... not good. That's part of the reason I'm so critical of current suicide reporting, as well as how the issue is handled in fiction.

    1. I worry about it too! Like I said, The Virgin Suicides was not a good representation at all. I’m glad this book was better.

  2. Glad that you ended up loving it! I really like it when you end up connecting with certain aspects in a book or it's characters!

  3. This is the first I'm coming across this one but it sounds like something I'd really enjoy! It's always great when books manage to balance difficult themes with a good dose of hope :)) Thanks for bringing it on my radar, Emily- adding it to my TBR rn! xx

    1. Awesome!! I love introducing lesser-known books when I can :D