Book Review: Paper Names by Susie Luo

“Her life only belonged to her, and she could do with it whatever she wanted.”

Susie Luo, Paper Names

Title: Paper Names
Author: Susie Luo
Genres: Literary, Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction
Pages: 288 (Hardcover)
Published: May 2nd, 2023

My Rating: ★★★
Read: 8/16/2023 – 8/30/2023


Literary fiction with generational themes has been an unintentional go-to for me this year. I picked up Paper Names not long after reading Banyan Moon so it was fun to switch perspectives. While Banyan Moon followed mother/daughter/grandmother dynamics, Paper Names had more of a father/daughter theme to it. 

Tony has only ever wanted the best life for his daughter Tammy. To him, that means leaving China and building a new life in America. It hasn’t been easy for him. He’s afraid to venture from his small circle out of fear. It’s easier for Tammy as a first-generation American. She and her father tend to butt heads as she strives to lead her own American lifestyle where Tony is often stuck in the middle of the culture in which he was raised and the one he sought out for Tammy. After an accident, a man named Oliver comes into their lives, bringing his own perspective on what it means to be American. 

I loved reading the scenes between Tony and Tammy as well as a lot of Tony’s chapters in general. I can’t say I was hooked on the story as a whole. Given what drew me to the book, it didn’t seem like Oliver’s perspective was entirely necessary. Otherwise, the writing style was strong for a debut aside from some pacing issues. The ending happened so quickly and predictable once the setup had been made.

Likes & Dislikes:

What I liked:

  • The generational story that was mainly focused on the father/daughter aspect.

What I didn’t like:

  • The flow of the story could have been better. I struggled to figure out where I was in the book.
  • I wasn’t crazy about the age difference between Tammy and Oliver.
  • The ending wasn’t believable.


A note on the age difference complaint that may or may not be considered a spoiler: The actual gap wasn’t as much of an issue but rather the time the two meet. It was just… unsettling. It was obvious where it would lead.

Where to buy the book:

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