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Seeing Ghosts: A Memoir

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For readers of Helen Macdonald and Elizabeth Alexander, an intimate and haunting portrait of grief and the search for meaning from a singular new talent as told through the prism of three generations of her Chinese American family. Born two years after her parents' only son died just hours after his birth, Kat Chow became unusually fixated with death. She worried constantl For readers of Helen Macdonald and Elizabeth Alexander, an intimate and haunting portrait of grief and the search for meaning from a singular new talent as told through the prism of three generations of her Chinese American family. Born two years after her parents' only son died just hours after his birth, Kat Chow became unusually fixated with death. She worried constantly about her parents dying -- especially her mother. One morning, when Kat was nine, her mother, a vivacious and mischievous woman, casually made a morbid joke: When she eventually dies, she said laughing, she'd like to be stuffed and displayed in Kat's future apartment in order to always watch over her. Four years later when her mother dies unexpectedly from cancer, Kat, her two older sisters, and their father are plunged into a debilitating, lonely grief. With a distinct voice that is wry and heartfelt, Kat weaves together what is part ghost story and part excavation of her family's history of loss spanning three generations and their immigration from China and Hong Kong to America and Cuba. This redemptive coming-of-age story uncovers the uncanny parallels in Kat's lineage, including the strength of sisterhood and the complicated duty of looking after parents, even after death. Seeing Ghosts asks what it means to claim and tell your family's story: Is writing an exorcism or is it its own form of preservation? What do we owe to our families in our grief, and how does it shape us? In order to answer these questions and to understand her family's ghosts, Kat unearths their sorrow and challenges the power structures of race, class, and gender. The result is an extraordinary new contribution to the literature of grief and the American family, and a provocative and transformative meditation on who we become under the specter of loss.


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For readers of Helen Macdonald and Elizabeth Alexander, an intimate and haunting portrait of grief and the search for meaning from a singular new talent as told through the prism of three generations of her Chinese American family. Born two years after her parents' only son died just hours after his birth, Kat Chow became unusually fixated with death. She worried constantl For readers of Helen Macdonald and Elizabeth Alexander, an intimate and haunting portrait of grief and the search for meaning from a singular new talent as told through the prism of three generations of her Chinese American family. Born two years after her parents' only son died just hours after his birth, Kat Chow became unusually fixated with death. She worried constantly about her parents dying -- especially her mother. One morning, when Kat was nine, her mother, a vivacious and mischievous woman, casually made a morbid joke: When she eventually dies, she said laughing, she'd like to be stuffed and displayed in Kat's future apartment in order to always watch over her. Four years later when her mother dies unexpectedly from cancer, Kat, her two older sisters, and their father are plunged into a debilitating, lonely grief. With a distinct voice that is wry and heartfelt, Kat weaves together what is part ghost story and part excavation of her family's history of loss spanning three generations and their immigration from China and Hong Kong to America and Cuba. This redemptive coming-of-age story uncovers the uncanny parallels in Kat's lineage, including the strength of sisterhood and the complicated duty of looking after parents, even after death. Seeing Ghosts asks what it means to claim and tell your family's story: Is writing an exorcism or is it its own form of preservation? What do we owe to our families in our grief, and how does it shape us? In order to answer these questions and to understand her family's ghosts, Kat unearths their sorrow and challenges the power structures of race, class, and gender. The result is an extraordinary new contribution to the literature of grief and the American family, and a provocative and transformative meditation on who we become under the specter of loss.

30 review for Seeing Ghosts: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kat Chow

    All the stars! The highest rating! A very good book, from a very, very biased reader.

  2. 5 out of 5

    elisa

    when i first started seeing ghosts, i was slightly worried by the unfortunate timing of its release, as it shares a number of unlucky similarities with the well-loved 2021 memoir crying in h mart: it's a life-spanning memoir written by an east asian woman as she struggles to find a foothold in the midst of her mother's cancer diagnosis (and subsequent death). but these are only surface-level similarities. by contrast, seeing ghosts is steeped in ambiguity. for most of the mother-specific memory when i first started seeing ghosts, i was slightly worried by the unfortunate timing of its release, as it shares a number of unlucky similarities with the well-loved 2021 memoir crying in h mart: it's a life-spanning memoir written by an east asian woman as she struggles to find a foothold in the midst of her mother's cancer diagnosis (and subsequent death). but these are only surface-level similarities. by contrast, seeing ghosts is steeped in ambiguity. for most of the mother-specific memory unraveling, details are unspecific, insubstantial hypotheticals—sometimes total creative conjecture about reanimated spirits—so that readers are constantly inundated with phrases like, "i imagine..." and, "i can picture..." while this threw me for a loop for the first 50 or so pages, i grew to really enjoy this little idiosyncrasy. i think it does well to subvert memoir conventions of accuracy and creative embellishment. it also feels true to chow's diasporic experience of her lineage. over the course of the memoir, she tries to fight the facts of her and her family's existence into submission by locating them. at times, this task is impossible. at times, it requires guesswork. at times, the task is impeded by language barriers, or cultural history, or the death of essential members of her family who she hadn't thought to seek out for questions like these until it was too late. this narrative ambiguity is sometimes set beside conversations chow transcribes verbatim, videos she's taken and written out, documents or research she's discovered to aid in her memory reconstruction. i think that was one of the most enthralling parts of this memoir. and while the deeply personal portrait of a daughter's grief seems like an unlucky publishing parallel to michelle zauner's early 2021 release, it is by no means explored in a similar fashion. here, chow's father—in all his eccentricities—takes center stage. he is lovingly wrought, even as chow grapples with the part he's played in her own suffering, and his own journey to rediscover his roots near the end of seeing ghosts was particularly engaging. i loved the cuban-chinese history weaved through the narrative, i loved the slowburn characterization of chow's sisters and father, and though the grief surrounding her mother was puzzlingly obscure, there was a certain relief—and an even starker kind of grief—to the notion of not knowing enough to detail the last moments of your mother's life. this is a memoir you have to wade through slowly to understand its full effects. it's gorgeous once you do, and illuminating, and mournful, and also beautifully free.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Deb

    Thank you to Grand Central Pub and NetGalley for my advanced reading/listening copies of this book. I highly recommend the audio if you love listening to authors reading their books as well, especially for the pronunciation of the Chinese words she shares. Last night, Kat Chow sat down with Chanel Miller (hulllo, DREAM DUO ANYONE?) to discuss the book and a part that really resonated with me was the pair discussing how Kat described her mother’s goofy & mischievous nature; which is different than Thank you to Grand Central Pub and NetGalley for my advanced reading/listening copies of this book. I highly recommend the audio if you love listening to authors reading their books as well, especially for the pronunciation of the Chinese words she shares. Last night, Kat Chow sat down with Chanel Miller (hulllo, DREAM DUO ANYONE?) to discuss the book and a part that really resonated with me was the pair discussing how Kat described her mother’s goofy & mischievous nature; which is different than how Asian mothers are typically portrayed and this really reminded me of my mom. If you’ve been here for a while, you know that I’m the kind of person who will cry over a commercial but have only cried in ONE book before (hi Namesake) but, I cried in this one, put it down for a bit, and called my mom (who didn’t answer ASAP and then gave me a cheeky answer I think Kat and her mom would enjoy). I think that speaks volumes at how hauntingly beautiful Kat’s writing is and how deeply connected readers will feel reading her book. This book might have hit me the way it did as I saw the similarities between Kat’s mother-daughter relationship in my own (the Cantonese words likely played a bit part in that, see comments for a few translations to enhance your reading), but will also truly resonate with anyone. This has been added to my list of fave memoirs. On that note, there’s a small passage that I’ll end this review on—re: Kat’s dad discussing how he missed his wife taking care of him (i.e., cutting her fruit for dessert, page 294) and it might not mean much to all, but I’m leaving it here because it really got me: “Almost anyone with a Chinese mother knows this small gesture usually means love.”

  4. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    [review of an ARC] I don't read a lot on grief. Not intentionally, it just doesn't come across my radar often. Coupled with the word "Ghosts" in the title (and the fact that I'm currently balls-deep in the 274 seasons of Supernatural), I didn't pick this up right away because it gave me "help, I'm seeing the ghost of my dead mother everywhere I go and it's sending me into an endless spiral of hard partying, drinking, and a general lack of self care" vibes. Admittedly, I gave it a try when I saw t [review of an ARC] I don't read a lot on grief. Not intentionally, it just doesn't come across my radar often. Coupled with the word "Ghosts" in the title (and the fact that I'm currently balls-deep in the 274 seasons of Supernatural), I didn't pick this up right away because it gave me "help, I'm seeing the ghost of my dead mother everywhere I go and it's sending me into an endless spiral of hard partying, drinking, and a general lack of self care" vibes. Admittedly, I gave it a try when I saw the blurbs from Ocean Vuong and Alexander Chee (I've discovered I will read literally anything blurbed by Chee), and was pleasantly surprised (also, that cover!). The title is really only part of this story. Grief is a weird thing that spans lifetimes and generations and changes but then doesn't really change at all. We change around it. Kat Chow's particular grief (over her mother dying when Chow was a child) molds itself around her relationships to her father, sisters, her parents' immigrant experience, and her own existence as a daughter of immigrants. What do we really know about our parents as children vs what we learn when we're older? And how is that complicated when a parent dies before you grow up? How is that further complicated through the immigration lens? I didn't intentionally read this after Speak, Okinawa, but it feels in conversation with that at times, around the mother-daughter relationship and the child-of-immigrant experience. Chow has written a very full story, not just about grief, but how it works its way through lifetimes and how we evolve around it at different stages of our lives.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mariya

    I loved this book from beginning to end and I'm so grateful to Kat for writing this and for asking the questions central in this book. What do we owe our parents? What do we owe our dead? And how do we craft ourselves in spaces that emerge after loss? This is an important, instrumental book: Kat masterfully writes not just of her own loss and grief, but that of her parents. She looks at her family, their histories, and her own memory with clarity and empathy. Though ostensibly a book that's abou I loved this book from beginning to end and I'm so grateful to Kat for writing this and for asking the questions central in this book. What do we owe our parents? What do we owe our dead? And how do we craft ourselves in spaces that emerge after loss? This is an important, instrumental book: Kat masterfully writes not just of her own loss and grief, but that of her parents. She looks at her family, their histories, and her own memory with clarity and empathy. Though ostensibly a book that's about who Kat became after losing her mother, the book is equally sharp on her relationship with her father, and it is here that Kat is most unflinching and brave. In less skilled hands, the narrative might suffer for the hints of magical realism that are embedded throughout, but by taking the chance— by trusting us, her readers— Kat manages to instead portray the continuous nature of grief and of the selves we might have been in one of the most effective ways I've ever read in a book. It's poetic, beautifully wrought, and filled with a love that translates off the page. I can't wait to see what she does next!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Steve Haruch

    "This is a book about death" might not seem like the most appealing tag line at first, but in Kat Chow's capable hands, Seeing Ghosts becomes much more than that. It follows the aftermath of her mother's death from cancer, ascending the steep slope of this loss again and again in search of solace and, if not solace, then some semblance of understanding. A book about death is of course a book about life, and how we try to go on — how an absence becomes a presence, with uncertain and sometimes jag "This is a book about death" might not seem like the most appealing tag line at first, but in Kat Chow's capable hands, Seeing Ghosts becomes much more than that. It follows the aftermath of her mother's death from cancer, ascending the steep slope of this loss again and again in search of solace and, if not solace, then some semblance of understanding. A book about death is of course a book about life, and how we try to go on — how an absence becomes a presence, with uncertain and sometimes jagged contours, and how grief continues to transform us in ways we never imagined. I'm grateful for how this book resists easy narratives of redemption, and how it patiently catalogs the stubbornness and beauty of flawed human relationships. And I'm in awe of how it collects so many intimate moments into a rich, ambivalent, almost incantatory whole.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    There's this meme about grief that's floating around the internet. It's a picture of two scenarios: First, a large black sphere in a glass jar diminishing over time to the size of a marble. Then, below it, the large black sphere stays the exact same size as the jar enlarges around it. It's captioned: "People tend to believe that grief shrinks over time. What really happens is that we grow around our grief." I've read many memoirs, some of them about grief. They often center around trauma as an im There's this meme about grief that's floating around the internet. It's a picture of two scenarios: First, a large black sphere in a glass jar diminishing over time to the size of a marble. Then, below it, the large black sphere stays the exact same size as the jar enlarges around it. It's captioned: "People tend to believe that grief shrinks over time. What really happens is that we grow around our grief." I've read many memoirs, some of them about grief. They often center around trauma as an immediate event. The shocking and debilitating repercussions. Kat Chow's memoir is one that spans a lifetime, several if you count the lives of her family members, which I do. "Seeing Ghosts" is an emotionally generous, intricately researched look at what grief looks like as you grow around it. As you continue to live your life with the presence of those you've lost. As I read "Seeing Ghosts," it struck me how few experiences I've had with Cantonese American literature. When was the last time I read "Lei sik dzo fan mei a?" or "Wah, gum guay!" in a book? When was the last time I read an "immigrant narrative" that didn't deify older parents but instead tried to really thoroughly investigate them for who they are – and who they might be hiding from their children? Using humor and horror, Kat Chow does not glamorize this experience, nor does she wallow in it as a guilt trip. Is writing an exorcism or is it its own form of preservation? To me, "Seeing Ghosts" is a pouring of libations. For those who have experienced loss, this cup never empties.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Megan Tristao

    Memoir of an American-born Chinese woman who lost her mother when she was young. Much of the book is written to the mother, and it also talks a lot about her relationship with her father and her sisters after her mother's death, and her family history dating back to when and why they left Hong Kong. The audiobook is narrated by the author, so I recommend consuming this one via audio. 01.14.2021: Memoir of a former member of the NPR Code Switch team! Memoir of an American-born Chinese woman who lost her mother when she was young. Much of the book is written to the mother, and it also talks a lot about her relationship with her father and her sisters after her mother's death, and her family history dating back to when and why they left Hong Kong. The audiobook is narrated by the author, so I recommend consuming this one via audio. 01.14.2021: Memoir of a former member of the NPR Code Switch team!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tanvi

    This book made me cry. Kat adeptly maneuvers the personal and the political, the private and the public, the grief and the joy. The memoir tells the story of not just one deep and obvious loss, but of layered set of quotidian losses associated with migration, assimilation, and identification. It is the quintessential story of the American family, and how they survive and reclaim their stories — collective and individual.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Queen Ophilia III

    ☆ i got a audiobook arc from Netgalley for an honest review ☆ This is a really well written book. I was worried about the "story" or memories not being in order. Usually this makes a book messy. But i think Kat did a wonderful job on making it sound/look very smooth and i felt like i wasnt lost at any point. And when you think about it: memories comes in moments that reminds you of something and not in order all at once. The audiobook itself is read by Kat which i think gave a very personal touc ☆ i got a audiobook arc from Netgalley for an honest review ☆ This is a really well written book. I was worried about the "story" or memories not being in order. Usually this makes a book messy. But i think Kat did a wonderful job on making it sound/look very smooth and i felt like i wasnt lost at any point. And when you think about it: memories comes in moments that reminds you of something and not in order all at once. The audiobook itself is read by Kat which i think gave a very personal touch. Her reading had alot of emotion but wasnt over the top either. It was a perfect voice that i could listen longer moments on. I learned alot about asian culture. I myself cant personally relate to being an immigrant or feeling like parts of my culture isnt here. I can also say i never lost a family member nor a friend, i been very lucky. So i cant relate to going through this kind of grief. But i can understand how things like this form us as a person. How its something that affects us, especially if we are very young. Losing people we love isnt easy. I feel like we got to hear/read some intimate moments in Kats life with her family before, during and after her mothers death. But also see through her lens how not only she but her whole family struggled in their own way with grief. A very interesting read.

  11. 4 out of 5

    books_by_bethany

    In Kat Chow’s memoir, she describes her life with her family, both before and after her mother died from cancer when Kat was a young teenager. Kat’s voice captures her family’s story, from their immigration from China to America, and her life growing up with her two sisters and their single, widowed father. While I was a bit nervous that I would dislike the writing style, as she recounts the memories of her life out of order, I did get use to it and enjoyed her narrative. I learned a lot about h In Kat Chow’s memoir, she describes her life with her family, both before and after her mother died from cancer when Kat was a young teenager. Kat’s voice captures her family’s story, from their immigration from China to America, and her life growing up with her two sisters and their single, widowed father. While I was a bit nervous that I would dislike the writing style, as she recounts the memories of her life out of order, I did get use to it and enjoyed her narrative. I learned a lot about her culture, and I appreciated her sharing her story. Kat’s grief and strength are beautifully depicted on the page, and loved her close bond to her sisters. I commend Kat for sharing her life with her readers, and this was an excellent memoir. Thank you so much to Grand Central Publishing for my gifted copy of this book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    SEEING GHOSTS by Kat Chow is an amazing memoir! In this book Kat shares very openly about losing her mother to cancer at a young age. I felt such an immediate connection to her as we are both Chinese. I loved learning about her family history and the writing really took me on a journey through time and grief. I quite enjoyed the use of the second person point of view throughout as Kat has so much to say and ask her mother. There were several extremely poignant parts that made me sad. I appreciat SEEING GHOSTS by Kat Chow is an amazing memoir! In this book Kat shares very openly about losing her mother to cancer at a young age. I felt such an immediate connection to her as we are both Chinese. I loved learning about her family history and the writing really took me on a journey through time and grief. I quite enjoyed the use of the second person point of view throughout as Kat has so much to say and ask her mother. There were several extremely poignant parts that made me sad. I appreciated the honesty and relatability. While reading this book it made me reflect on my own family and how we’re all still dealing with our own ghosts in our own ways. I found this book to really resonate with me. It’s my fave memoir of 2021 so far! . Thank you to Grand Central Publishing for my gifted copy!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Allen Wagner

    In Seeing Ghosts, Kat writes masterfully about the loss of her mother to cancer, how she and her family processes her mother’s death, and what it means to understand and unearth her family history—reconciling her memories with what she learns from her father, sisters, aunts, and others later on. This is an intimate story of grief, family relationships, and immigrant struggle. But Seeing Ghosts is not without lighthearted moments, as well; as Kat is as skillful describing the somber as she is reca In Seeing Ghosts, Kat writes masterfully about the loss of her mother to cancer, how she and her family processes her mother’s death, and what it means to understand and unearth her family history—reconciling her memories with what she learns from her father, sisters, aunts, and others later on. This is an intimate story of grief, family relationships, and immigrant struggle. But Seeing Ghosts is not without lighthearted moments, as well; as Kat is as skillful describing the somber as she is recalling some of the more playful of her family memories. Seeing Ghosts will appeal to all readers, but for those who have experienced loss or struggled to feel belonging in society, Kat’s words will resonate deeply. Me personally, I have not experienced the type of loss and grief that Kat has. But it’s a testament to her writing of such a personal and moving story, that Kat has inspired me to better understand my own family’s history—before those who can tell it best pass.

  14. 5 out of 5

    smalltownbookmom

    Part grief memoir, part family history, this was a really good account from a Chinese American daughter coming to terms with her mother's death and her relationship with her father afterwards. I really enjoyed the family history parts of the story, learning about her father's family and their experience leaving China and making their way to America. Lots of relatable moments for anyone who has lost a parent at a young age, going through therapy and then later having to deal with caring for an ag Part grief memoir, part family history, this was a really good account from a Chinese American daughter coming to terms with her mother's death and her relationship with her father afterwards. I really enjoyed the family history parts of the story, learning about her father's family and their experience leaving China and making their way to America. Lots of relatable moments for anyone who has lost a parent at a young age, going through therapy and then later having to deal with caring for an aging parent. I did find parts of this dragged a bit but overall I really enjoyed it and if you're curious about the cover, Kat's parent's were into fish taxidermy - definitely a hobby I was not familiar with! Recommended for fans of Crying in H Mart. Much thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my ALC. This was an enjoyable listen on audio read by the author. Favorite quote: "What is grief if not the act of survival?"

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kyra Johnson

    SEEING GHOSTS is Kat Chow’s poignant memoir where she reflects on losing her mother to cancer at a young age. Chow writes beautifully of her high-spirited mother, examines her relationship with her sisters and father, and explores her family history and their immigration experience. Chow thoughtfully shares how her and her family processed their grief and navigated through life without her mother. I highly recommend this stunning, grounding memoir about the universality of grief.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Marianne

    I had trouble putting this book down. Such clear and relatable writing, telling such complex stories of love, grief, frustration, and a bunch of other deeply human feelings stuff. Excellent use of embedded photos, too, I wish more memoirs' use of photography was as good. (nb: I read an advance reading copy which I received from the publisher.) cn: I don't want to label things the author didn't label in the book, but this pushed my own past-history buttons some on topics like verbal abuse, hitting I had trouble putting this book down. Such clear and relatable writing, telling such complex stories of love, grief, frustration, and a bunch of other deeply human feelings stuff. Excellent use of embedded photos, too, I wish more memoirs' use of photography was as good. (nb: I read an advance reading copy which I received from the publisher.) cn: I don't want to label things the author didn't label in the book, but this pushed my own past-history buttons some on topics like verbal abuse, hitting children, hoarding, financial irresponsibility, and the painfulness of being an immigrant.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jeenie

    A really stark look into how the loss of a parent spans across your entire life. Kat Chow does a phenomenal job of showing all of the ways her mother’s ghost impacts her daily life and the way she processes life, joy, and family.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Allison Palmer

    I requested this ARC because I've always loved Kat Chow's work for NPR. Chow took a risk by organizing her story in a non-chronological order but it pays big dividends. We shuttle from her childhood to before her birth to her adulthood to her teen years. In less-skilled hands, I might find this confusing or off-putting - but I ended up loving how her thoughts flowed the way memories often do. The effect is wistful, poetic, and evocative. While Chow isn't afraid to share moments that cast herself I requested this ARC because I've always loved Kat Chow's work for NPR. Chow took a risk by organizing her story in a non-chronological order but it pays big dividends. We shuttle from her childhood to before her birth to her adulthood to her teen years. In less-skilled hands, I might find this confusing or off-putting - but I ended up loving how her thoughts flowed the way memories often do. The effect is wistful, poetic, and evocative. While Chow isn't afraid to share moments that cast herself and others in a less-than-flattering light, she does not assign judgment or blame. Her approach is open-hearted and accepting of human frailty. This is one of the many aspects of "Seeing Ghosts" that elevates it in contrast to many other memoirs I've read. Satisfying from start to finish and a pleasure to read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kali Cannizzaro

    I am a sucker for a good cover. This one drew me in hook, line, and sinker 🐟 “Seeing Ghosts: A Memoir” is the story of Kat Chow’s life in relation to her family of origin. More specifically, it is her almost scientific observations of her family, both living and passed on, and how she strives to better understand them. Not a typical memoir, this one features some shocking realizations of her family that may not be simply explained away through the lens of culture that she had assumed for much of I am a sucker for a good cover. This one drew me in hook, line, and sinker 🐟 “Seeing Ghosts: A Memoir” is the story of Kat Chow’s life in relation to her family of origin. More specifically, it is her almost scientific observations of her family, both living and passed on, and how she strives to better understand them. Not a typical memoir, this one features some shocking realizations of her family that may not be simply explained away through the lens of culture that she had assumed for much of her life. I typically love a book narrated by the author but I felt this one would have benefited from increased emotional expression. I finished wondering if this would have been an even better experience had I read the physical book. Kudos to Kat Chow for sharing the good, the bad, and the questionable in such an unflinching manner. Give this well-written book a try! Thank you to NetGalley, the author, and publisher for the opportunity to listen to this audiobook. The opinions in this review are entirely my own. * * * #SeeingGhosts #SeeingGhostsAMemoir #NetGalley #KatChow #HachetteAudio #CoverArt #CoverLove #LoveAGoodCover #Memoir #Nonfiction #family #familysecrets #mothersanddaughters #fathersanddaughters #loveandloss #complicatedfamilies #audiobook

  20. 4 out of 5

    Karen Parisot

    Kat is the youngest of the three Chow sisters. Their mother was a very dynamic woman, full of life, and the rock upon which their family was built. With her untimely death, a huge void is left in Kat’s heart and her life, and she has a difficult time coming to terms with it. Her memoir is told in snippets as she tries to trace her family history, recalls the circumstances surrounding the loss of her mother, and her evolving relationship with her father. I found this book a little sad, reading ab Kat is the youngest of the three Chow sisters. Their mother was a very dynamic woman, full of life, and the rock upon which their family was built. With her untimely death, a huge void is left in Kat’s heart and her life, and she has a difficult time coming to terms with it. Her memoir is told in snippets as she tries to trace her family history, recalls the circumstances surrounding the loss of her mother, and her evolving relationship with her father. I found this book a little sad, reading about how much her life was affected by losing her mother at such a young age. It’s very good and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes memoirs or who is dealing with the loss of a loved one. 3.75 stars

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kari

    My Review Of SEEING GHOSTS: A Memoir By Author, Kat Chow Gifted & Published by @GrandCentralPublushing On Sale: 8/24/21 - Purchase Link in Bio ****** This memoir was a very touching recall of the profound effect a mother’s death has on her daughter. It reminded me so much of losing my mom in 2014 and made me laugh as the Author recounted the silly albeit sometimes unusual things her mother did to make her 3 daughters laugh. So much the same of what my mom used to do. Others may have been embarrassed My Review Of SEEING GHOSTS: A Memoir By Author, Kat Chow Gifted & Published by @GrandCentralPublushing On Sale: 8/24/21 - Purchase Link in Bio ****** This memoir was a very touching recall of the profound effect a mother’s death has on her daughter. It reminded me so much of losing my mom in 2014 and made me laugh as the Author recounted the silly albeit sometimes unusual things her mother did to make her 3 daughters laugh. So much the same of what my mom used to do. Others may have been embarrassed by their mother’s actions but it was like an orchestrated dance between mother and daughter that no matter the embarrassment; it was the emotions and love that will forever be remembered. Her mother’s “face” baring her teeth that was often repeated along after her mother’s passing was very comical. Her mother’s unusual request to be stuffed after her death and to be put on display like a taxidermy on the wall was just normal in this Author’s world. The closeness and stories of the bonds built with her mother before she was taken to soon due to improper health because of the costs of health insurance. This causes her to have so much pain and yearning to have her mother back, that was taken to soon but still lives on in the beautiful memories and with the help of her two older sisters and a father whom she must learn to know. This was written with brilliant recall and wonderfully detailed observations of moments in time. I related so well with the stories and found solace in my own world knowing I wasn’t alone and finding a book that was sympathetic as well as filled with laughter.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Laura Dvorak

    Haunting and immersive, this is a memoir worth reading. I've been following Kat Chow's work for many years and picked up SEEING GHOSTS during its release week. While very much a memoir, the book reads more like a series of vignettes as Chow excavates how her family changed after her mother's death. The writing is beautiful and I read the whole thing in two sittings. My only minor quibble is the structure; at times, I wished for it to be more chronological, but I think ultimately the weaving time Haunting and immersive, this is a memoir worth reading. I've been following Kat Chow's work for many years and picked up SEEING GHOSTS during its release week. While very much a memoir, the book reads more like a series of vignettes as Chow excavates how her family changed after her mother's death. The writing is beautiful and I read the whole thing in two sittings. My only minor quibble is the structure; at times, I wished for it to be more chronological, but I think ultimately the weaving timelines are a much more accurate representation of the nonlinear process of grieving.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Huguette Larochelle

    I win this book. Kat did a very good job, describing her lost of a mother . I know now why there a dead fish on the cover, is for you to find out.

  24. 5 out of 5

    ༺Kiki༻

    You might also enjoy: ✱ Crying in H Mart ✱ Ghost Forest You might also enjoy: ✱ Crying in H Mart ✱ Ghost Forest

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kaye

    Devoured this book in a day! This beautiful memoir examines the layers of loss in Kat Chow’s young life - grief over the death of her mom and brother as well as an underpinning of the disconnection from culture felt by a child of immigrants. Kudos to you, Kat, for diving into this grief and holding it up as an example of how this type of pain can stay with us and change us, and yet, we move forward.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Meg Dagon

    Haunting, nuanced, and beautiful.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Karen Germain

    Thank you to Grand Central Publishing for providing me with a copy of Kat Chow’s memoir, Seeing Ghosts, in exchange for an honest review. The youngest of three daughters, Kat Chow was in middle school when her mom passed away from cancer. Her mother’s illness was diagnosed late, and although her mom may have been ill for a long time, the loss seemed sudden and unexpected. After the loss of her beloved mother, Kat struggled through her grief, especially as her older sisters move out of the family Thank you to Grand Central Publishing for providing me with a copy of Kat Chow’s memoir, Seeing Ghosts, in exchange for an honest review. The youngest of three daughters, Kat Chow was in middle school when her mom passed away from cancer. Her mother’s illness was diagnosed late, and although her mom may have been ill for a long time, the loss seemed sudden and unexpected. After the loss of her beloved mother, Kat struggled through her grief, especially as her older sisters move out of the family home and Kat is left with her father. Kat’s relationship with her father is fraught and difficult, made even more challenging by her father’s money troubles and his own childhood trauma, including losing his father at a young age. Seeing Ghosts was a very emotional read for me. I lost my mom to cancer back in 2008. Reading through Chow’s own experience brought back a flood of emotions, and especially during the first half of the memoir, I was a sobbing mess. I was crying so much, that I had to take breaks. That said, Chow’s beautiful writing and raw emotions were very cathartic for me. The second half of Seeing Ghosts explores Chow’s father’s background and his search to find the remains of his father. Chow was born in the United States, but her parent’s immigrated from China via Hong Kong. When her father was a child, his father left Asia to find work in Cuba, and ended up dying in Cuba, separated from his wife and infant son. Chow’s grandfather’s body was never repatriated and it has been her father’s life long quest to find his father’s bones, a story that finds a happy resolution in the final chapters of the Seeing Ghosts. Although my family story is very different, I could find a connection to Chow’s family through the themes of how we struggle to understand the traumas of previous generations and how many people have a desperate need to connect with their ancestry. When visiting Cuba, Chow’s father holds a glimmer of hope from gossip that his father had an affair, hoping that he might have a living half-sibling. I’m an only child, with no close living relatives, and I have to admit that I too have a similar hope. I feel that there are many people out in the world looking for connections and Seeing Ghosts is a memoir about connecting, both to our past and with those still living. Chow’s father is a bit of a hoarder, a problem that increases after his wife dies. This is a a major area of stress and worry for Chow and her sisters, but the problem also reveals an important aspect of her father’s personality. He has experienced so much uncertainty and loss in his life, that the objects allow him to have a sense of control and peace. I saw a similar behavior in family members who were alive during the Great Depression and WW2. I also must mention the tremendous amount of love in the Chow family. Chow’s mom did not hold back when showing affection towards her daughters, and that love has spilled over into the relationship between the sisters. Love is open and vibrant, shown through words, actions, and gifts. There is so much strength in their love, that it kept me hopeful, in even the darkest moments. Seeing Ghosts is a beautifully written and highly emotional memoir. It’s a fascinating look at the Chow family, but also a deeper story about the affects of leaving your homeland and figuring out your place in the world. It is about navigating the ephemeral and transitory nature of life. Like my review? Check out my blog!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Valerie in Nebraska

    “This is what it means to lose someone, understanding how, after all these years, memories shift and shape us. How we cannot exorcise someone as much as we try; we must learn the ways in which we preserve parts of them in ourselves." - Seeing Ghosts by Kat Chow. Seeing Ghosts by Kat Chow publishes today, but this story has been unfolding for decades ... and generations. When the author was 13, her beloved mother died. This was a tremendous loss for the entire family, but with her older sisters aw “This is what it means to lose someone, understanding how, after all these years, memories shift and shape us. How we cannot exorcise someone as much as we try; we must learn the ways in which we preserve parts of them in ourselves." - Seeing Ghosts by Kat Chow. Seeing Ghosts by Kat Chow publishes today, but this story has been unfolding for decades ... and generations. When the author was 13, her beloved mother died. This was a tremendous loss for the entire family, but with her older sisters away at college, Kat's daily life was most directly impacted by her mother's absence. In this deeply personal memoir, the author reflects on events that occurred in her childhood through an adult lens, including her mother's death, her parents' marriage, and her relationship with her emotionally distant father. Ms. Chow also shares her paternal grandparents' history and her father's search for his father's remains in Cuba to fulfill his mother's final wish. Throughout this memoir, the author provides glimpses into her mother's big personality and complex life - the woman who flashed goofy faces to make her daughters laugh, who sacrificed her future financial security to fulfill her daughter's childhood wish, who loved and competed with her siblings, who worked in the insurance industry to provide for her family, and who made decisions that impacted her life because of her own health insurance. Ms. Chow also shares her evolving relationship with her father who struggled to achieve success with various business ventures, who seems to lack the ability to speak without shouting, and who has filled his home with decades of possessions as a hoarder. I appreciated the inclusion of family photos to view the author and her nuclear family at key moments discussed in the memoir. Thank you to Grand Central Publishing for the review copy of this powerful and relatable memoir.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ceci - csquaredreads

    SEEING GHOSTS is an incredibly raw memoir, detailing Kat Chow’s grief in the years following her mother’s death from cancer when Chow was a teenager. This experience is one of two reasons I felt draw to Chow’s memoir - my mom had cancer twice when I was a teenager, and I’m all to familiar with its devastating, long reaching, and long lasting effects. The other reason I wanted to read this memoir is because like me, Chow is a Chinese-American woman whose family comes from Hong Kong. My Chinese an SEEING GHOSTS is an incredibly raw memoir, detailing Kat Chow’s grief in the years following her mother’s death from cancer when Chow was a teenager. This experience is one of two reasons I felt draw to Chow’s memoir - my mom had cancer twice when I was a teenager, and I’m all to familiar with its devastating, long reaching, and long lasting effects. The other reason I wanted to read this memoir is because like me, Chow is a Chinese-American woman whose family comes from Hong Kong. My Chinese ancestors moved from China to Hong Kong long before it was considered a separate part of China, though, while Chow’s family immigrated in the years following the communists coming to power in China. Chow weaves in this family history in an effective way that highlights intergenerational trauma and grief. This memoir jumps around a lot, in a way that I think is reflective in living through experience of intense grief. One thing reminds you of something else, something else that you didn’t think was connected to anything else, that grief builds a bridge between. There’s obvious moments of pain detailed and unexpected ones too. You think you’re okay and suddenly you’re not. It’s heavy, for sure, but very well done. You truly feel as if you are in the depths of Chow’s mind. I also liked that Chow included family pictures within the text, it was a very moving touch. You should read this book if 💔 You have dealt with grief after losing a parent (or anyone, really) 🏥 Your life has been touched by cancer 🗺 You come from an immigrant family ❤️‍🩹 You like to read moving memoirs 💕 You liked EDUCATED, CRYING IN H MART and/or IN THE COUNTRY WE LOVE 🐟 You never want to look at taxidemried fish the same again

  30. 5 out of 5

    Danielle M

    Chow examines the depths of grief in her memoir after her mom passes away from cancer. There is the immediate aftermath of shock, especially as a teenager, growing up with a dad who is very stuck in his ways, who has not shouldered the brunt of parenting before, where instinctive survival mode kicks in, telling you to get through the immediate needs of school, get out of the house, and then somehow land on your feet. As a teenager at the time of her mom's death, there is an added layer of not kno Chow examines the depths of grief in her memoir after her mom passes away from cancer. There is the immediate aftermath of shock, especially as a teenager, growing up with a dad who is very stuck in his ways, who has not shouldered the brunt of parenting before, where instinctive survival mode kicks in, telling you to get through the immediate needs of school, get out of the house, and then somehow land on your feet. As a teenager at the time of her mom's death, there is an added layer of not knowing the full depths of what had occurred, that she only uncovers as an adult. Now, years later Chow is still dealing with the grief of her mom passing, remembering things her mom used to do, imagining her mom at every step, affixed like a permanent fixture wherever Chow goes. It is in the void, where you sometimes throw memories so that you can survive the moment, where you subconsciously throw some feelings, thoughts and memories, that you return to years down the line, when you're ready or more ready to sort them out, however best you can. But you can't sort things out that have finitely ended, where possibilities have already condensed down to one path. There are many things that are unknowable, like where to decidedly lay blame, when was the point that had they known about the cancer, they could have tried to attack it, or going back even further, what could have happened had lives been completely altered? How far back can you go to rework what went wrong? You can go through an infinite loop of what-if scenarios, slightly altered, that change nothing on this timeline. 4.5

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