Steph Cha's 'Follow Her Home' is more than just a Chandler homage
An engrossing novel can be more than entertainment — it can double as an escape and a refuge from harsh realities. Steph Cha's intriguing debut “Follow Her Home” works as a testament to the power of storytelling and a cautionary tale against forsaking reality for fiction.
As a teenager, Korean-American Juniper Song found that safe retreat in Raymond Chandler's novels, immersing herself in Philip Marlowe's adventures to escape her overprotective mother. But, too often, she allowed herself to believe she could be the sleuth like Marlowe. While that led to a family tragedy from which she has never recovered, her desire to be a detective has never dampened.
So, she jumps at the chance to play private eye when her best friend and former Yale classmate Lucas Cook asks her to find out whether his father is having an affair. Lucas suspects that his father, a prominent L.A. attorney, is seeing Lori Lin, who also is Korean-American. Lucas is worried that his emotionally fragile mother would be pushed to suicide if the affair became public.
After following Lori to her home, Song is knocked unconscious and wakes to find her car trunk contains a body, which then disappears. As Song begins to prove that she can be an insightful detective in her own right, the case becomes personal. Song begins to believe that Lori is a victim, not a predator, a situation that echoes Song's own life.
Cha elevates “Follow Her Home” with glimpses at the culture of Korean-American families. But these scenes are too brief and only make the reader want more.
Although at times a bit uneven, “Follow Her Home” works as an homage to Chandler as the plot explores a young woman learning to trust her own instincts.
Oline H. Cogdill is a staff writer for the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale).
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.