July 22, 2018 · Reading

"The whole wide world was so beautiful that she could hardly stand it.

Excerpt from The Wangs vs. the World
Jade Chang


Grace could feel tears pooling in her eyes, rising up even though she was lying down. A liquid puddle of them, balancing on the curve of her eye, blurring her vision so that even the streetlights looked like stars. What if everything was beautiful? It made as much sense that this would be true as it did that it wouldn't. Really, what if everything was beautiful? That could be a whole philosophy. Maybe she could be a guru. She'd wear amazing white silk gowns and complicated braids with gold chains woven in them, and people would feel blessed just being around her. The tears spilled down her cheeks now, drop piling on drop, and she felt like she might never need to blink again, that her eyes would just always be hydrated because she'd never stop crying.

It had happened before, the crying. When Grace was nine, their dog Lady died. Lady was actually a boy, a scrappy thing, gray, with four neat white paws and wiry hair that always looked matted no matter how much she brushed it. He died, and for a whole day afterwards, Grace had been numb. So numb, in fact, that she was almost blind, like the world had stopped existing. The next morning, getting out of bed, she'd stepped on Lady's favorite fire-hydrant-shaped chew toy, slipped, and banged her knee hard enough to bring tears to her eyes.

Once they came, they didn't go away, and she'd sobbed for nearly two weeks, running into the bathroom at school, crawling into Andrew's bed at night and snuggling against her brother the way Lady had snuggled against her. She'd felt perpetually wrung dry in those weeks, miserable and lonely, unable to believe that Lady had really died and sure that she could have saved him if only she'd known that the problem was real, that not eating was a serious thing for a dog.

She'd looked up once, in the midst of one of those crying jags, to find her father standing over her, looking distraught.

"Please, Gracie, please. Bao bei. Bu yao ne me shang xing la. Ku go le."

Barbra had appeared in the doorway, shaking her head. "She love too hard for a girl. Too, too hard."

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