Review

In Full Bloom

by Caroline Hwang



What is the last thing a 27-year-old single career girl living in
New York City needs at 8:30 AM on a Monday morning? If you guessed
her tiny, Korean dynamo of a mother on her doorstep proclaiming, "I
come to fix your life," you could be right!

As if Ginger doesn't have enough issues just trying to pay her
bills --- with her mother's help --- and figuring out how to get
promoted from her position as a fashion assistant in the midst of
guerilla warfare in the office, she now has to cope with motherly
interference and concern from a little woman with big hair, big
shoulder pads, a proclivity for Chanel and an iron will, whom
Ginger likens to a "Korean Nancy Reagan."

At the moment, Ginger's biggest interest is her career, or lack
thereof. Her mother's main concern is Ginger's love life, or lack
thereof. Never fear, Ginger --- Mommy's here and she’s going
to "find you a good Korean husband" no matter what it takes!

Now Ginger is watching the caller ID at work in order to avoid her
mother's calls, hiding her smoking and drinking since it isn't
"ladylike," and trying to determine how to get out of any number of
awkward blind dates her mother has set up with the still-single
sons of Korean friends and acquaintances.

While it is nice having her mother's cooking and company and a
clean apartment for a change, it's not so nice receiving
unsolicited advice on her wardrobe, such as "that’s just
ugly," criticism on her apartment --- "what a dump" --- and being
told that she needs to marry because her "bloom is fading." It's
also not nice being used as a secret weapon to break up the
engagement between the son of old family friends and his Caucasian
fiancée.

As if dealing with her mother on the homefront isn't enough, work
presents another challenge as secret alliances are formed and
loyalties and boundaries are tested. Take, for instance, Ginger's
boss Sam, who happens to be an old college friend with less
education than Ginger but more of an ability to get ahead through
whatever methods are necessary. She'd like to think that she could
trust Sam to look out for her best interests, but as is always the
case in the business world, it's each woman for herself.

Amidst high intrigue both in the office and at home, Ginger and her
mother make some startling discoveries about each other and
themselves, their relationship as mother and daughter, and life in
general. This is a heartwarming story that mothers and daughters
everywhere, nationality notwithstanding, will relate to.

IN FULL BLOOM is a delightful first novel for Caroline Hwang. The
pages are filled with a colorful and memorable cast of characters
whom you'll feel like you know intimately by the time you are done.
It's also a page-turner that will keep your interest as you read
page after page to find out what each new adventure of Ginger's
brings.

Reviewed by Amie Taylor on January 22, 2011

In Full Bloom
by Caroline Hwang

  • Publication Date: January 27, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Plume
  • ISBN-10: 0452284880
  • ISBN-13: 9780452284883