Immigrant. Socialite. Magician.
Jordan Baker grows up in the most rarefied circles of 1920s American society—she has money, education, a killer golf handicap, and invitations to some of the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age. She’s also queer, Asian, adopted, and treated as an exotic attraction by her peers, while the most important doors remain closed to her.
But the world is full of wonders: infernal pacts and dazzling illusions, lost ghosts and elemental mysteries. In all paper is fire, and Jordan can burn the cut paper heart out of a man. She just has to learn how.
Nghi Vo’s debut novel The Chosen and the Beautiful reinvents this classic of the American canon as a coming-of-age story full of magic, mystery, and glittering excess, and introduces a major new literary voice.
There’s a certain expectation with a reimagining, especially of a classic that is well loved, to hold true to the awe and love for the original while also bringing forth something of an elaborate uniqueness that sets it apart from that original…. The Chosen and the Beautiful faaaaaar exceeded that expectation for me. I genuinely don’t think I took a single breath from the moment I started until the moment I finished in complete and utter wonderment.
If you were to ever read a Great Gatsby retelling (reimagining in this case) then let it be this one. While I thoroughly loved The Great Gatsby, in all honesty the ideologies that it represents are predominantly meant for the American people that ‘matter’, who at the time, meant white Americans (Tom and Daisy in this book are perfect representation of that). I’m sure for many of us, myself included, to truly connect with a classic such as The Great Gatsby in this time and age that it was written, is difficult because of the lack of inclusion and acknowledgement of the prejudice that was present in the 1920s. But that is different in this book. Vo flawlessly exposes so much of what was wrong of the time period and brings forth The Great Gatsby that should have been written with a very real look at racism, sexuality, mental health and so much more.
Not to mention the magical aspects of the novel which bring more depth not just to the the story but to the characters as well. I think what Fitzgerald originally created and symbolized with these characters is tenfold here given their uniqueness, especially with the twist at the end.
1000/10 would recommend and I can already tell I’ll be rereading this one again very soon!
Thank you to the publisher for the free review copy in exchange for an honest review.