ARC Reviews

ARC REVIEW: The November Girl by Lydia Kang


33509082Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Received From: NetGalley

I am Anda, and the lake is my mother. I am the November storms that terrify sailors and sink ships. With their deaths, I keep my little island on Lake Superior alive.

Hector has come here to hide from his family until he turns eighteen. Isle Royale is shut down for the winter, and there’s no one here but me. And now him.

Hector is running from the violence in his life, but violence runs through my veins. I should send him away, to keep him safe. But I’m half human, too, and Hector makes me want to listen to my foolish, half-human heart. And if I do, I can’t protect him from the storms coming for us.


GENDER: cisgender
SEXUALITY: presumed heterosexual


TROPES: flashbacks
TAGS: young adult, fantasy, contemporary, biracial character, black character, Korean character, POC character, Asian character, immigrant character, coming of age, romance 
WARNINGS: ableism, racism, self-harm, death, mention of bullying, abuse (child abuse, verbal abuse, mental abuse, physical abuse), underage drinking, drugging, non consensual drugging, drowning


“Pain is so easy. It’s what we do best.”

When I saw “the lake is my mother” in the blurb for this book, I wasn’t at all sure what to expect from this novel, but I was intrigued to say the least. And the book is definitely an interesting read. Anda, one of the main characters, is part human, park lake–yes, you read that correctly–and is called the Witch of November, as every year at that time, she causes massive storms in Lake Superior which causes shipwrecks and drownings. Hector, the second main character, is a biracial (Korean and black) boy who has been living with his abusive uncle since he was six years old, and finally, he has the means to runaway. He just so happens to run to Anda’s island at the end of October, and once they discover each other’s presence, November becomes a violent bid for mutual survival.

I enjoyed this novel a lot! While it was often slow at times, the writing was neat and easy to read. The pacing was generally smooth, and I liked that it wasn’t a single, first person point of view but showed both of them and clearly indicated when we were switching, without head hopping.

Additionally, both characters were incredibly dynamic. Anda’s battle between embracing her humanity and continuing to exist as the destructive force she’s become in giving into the urging of her lake side is so completely felt. It’s obvious how hard she struggles to understand Hector’s life, and the life of humans in general, and tries to emulate their behaviors and speech patterns. The strength of the lake is extremely compelling, and I give Anda kudos for being able to hold out and realizing that she has choices, that causing destruction and death during November isn’t the only way to appease the side of her that needs death to survive.

Though I loved Anda, Hector was much more relatable for me, perhaps because of his recognizable humanity, or maybe just because he was a more complex character. I would argue he is, which isn’t to say that Anda is flat, but the depth to which we dive into Hector’s life and psyche makes him a much more interesting character for me. It’s impossible not to empathize with this boy who is stuck in so many different worlds but doesn’t feel he actually belongs in any of them. It’s incredibly difficult to avoid the urge to fight the world for him and protect him from anything that might hurt him–including himself. Hector is a beautiful boy, lost at sea, trying to find his way in the world and escape the abusive household he lives in, and if you don’t end up rooting for him, I’m not sure we’ve even read the same book.

The whole book was an excellent read, but truly, my favorite part of the book was near the end, when Hector is in the hospital and he receives a new social worker who actually listens to and believes him, and does everything he can to help Hector achieve emancipation and escape his uncle and the father who never cared about him. That chapter was both heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.





Lydia Kang is an author of young adult fiction, poetry, and narrative non-fiction. She graduated from Columbia University and New York University School of Medicine, completing her residency and chief residency at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. She is a practicing physician who has gained a reputation for helping fellow writers achieve medical accuracy in fiction. Her poetry and non-fiction have been published in JAMA, The Annals of Internal Medicine, Canadian Medical Association Journal, Journal of General Internal Medicine, and Great Weather for Media. She believes in science and knocking on wood, and currently lives in Omaha with her husband and three children.

Lydia is represented by Eric Myers of Myers Literary Management.

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2 thoughts on “ARC REVIEW: The November Girl by Lydia Kang

  1. Such a beautifully and well written review! It makes me wanna read the book for Hector. He sounds like the kind of boy I’d love to cherish.

    Liked by 1 person

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