Review of An Echo in the City, by K. X. Song

An Echo in the City

by K. X. Song
read by Christina Ho and Ewan Chung

Hachette Audio, 2023. 9 hours, 13 minutes.
Review written September 13, 2023, from a library eaudiobook.
Starred Review

An Echo in the City surprised me with how powerful it was. We begin in Hong Kong in 2019 with Phoenix, a junior in high school, whose mother is pressuring her to study to retake the SAT so she can get into Yale and leave Hong Kong. Phoenix lived in North Carolina when she was little, but her wealthy family took her back to Hong Kong for the opportunities. With her parents’ recent divorce, she feels like they hardly notice her except to complain about her grades.

But then she starts talking with her goof-off older brother’s new girlfriend Suki, who is involved in the student protest movement. The government had introduced a bill to allow extraditions to mainland China, and they feel this would allow anyone to be arrested who did anything China didn’t like – such as protest. Suki’s uncle has run a bookstore for years that sells books banned in China, and he is now on the blacklist.

As Phoenix gets more and more involved in the movement, she meets Kai, a handsome seventeen-year-old who has recently moved to Hong Kong from Shanghai after his mother’s death. What Phoenix doesn’t know is that Kai’s father is a police officer, and Kai has enrolled in the police academy to please him. So Phoenix doesn’t realize that Kai is on the opposite side of what turns out to be more and more like a war.

I appreciated the conflict in this book – it didn’t feel contrived. Each teen has a back story such that their reactions make sense. Their romance is lovely – while you know that there’s going to be conflicting emotions, and are just waiting for Kai to get found out.

I also had known nothing about the student protests in Hong Kong, and hearing about them from both the perspective of a student and the perspective of police was eye-opening.

Both characters grow in this book, with both of them realizing that they need to think about how they want their own lives to go and not just what their parents want for them. A story of star-crossed lovers that also teaches you about recent history.

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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