Love Can't Feed You: A Novel (Hardcover)

Love Can't Feed You: A Novel By Cherry Lou Sy Cover Image
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A beautiful, tender yet searing debut novel about intergenerational fractures and coming of age, following a young woman who immigrates to the United States from the Philippines and finds herself adrift between familial expectations and her own burning desires

Love Can't Feed You is a stunning, heartbreaking, and compressed look at coming of age, shifting notions of home, and the disintegration of the American dream. It asks us: What does it mean to be of multiple cultures without a road map for how to belong?        

After a harrowing flight, Queenie, her younger brother, and their elderly Chinese father arrive in the United States from the Philippines. They’re here to finally reunite with Queenie’s Filipina mother, who has been working as a nurse in Brooklyn for the past few years—building a life that everyone hopes will set them up for better prospects. But her mother is not the same woman she was in the Philippines: Something in her face is different, almost hardened, and she seems so American already.
Queenie, on the cusp of adulthood, has big dreams of attending college, of spending her days immersed in the pages of books. But there is not enough money for her and her brother to both be in school, so first she must work. Queenie rotates through jobs and settles, tentatively, into her new life, but her brother begins to withdraw and act out, and her father’s anger swells. As the pressures of assimilation compound, and the fissures within her family deepen into fractures, Queenie is left suspended between two countries, two identities, and two parents.

About the Author

Cherry Lou Sy is a writer and playwright originally from the Philippines currently based in Brooklyn, NY. She received her BA at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU and her MFA in playwriting from Brooklyn College, where she has been an adjunct lecturer in the English and American Studies departments. Cherry is also a teacher with PEN America’s DREAMing Out Loud. She has received fellowships and residencies from VONA, Tin House, and elsewhere. Love Can’t Feed You is her debut novel.

Praise For…

“In Love Can’t Feed You, Cherry Lou Sy keenly and compassionately evokes a vivid cast of characters. Queenie is an irresistibly honest and wise narrator who carries the reader along as she navigates her many identities—Filipina, Chinese, New Yorker, immigrant, daughter, sister, student, worker, woman, friend, lover. Rich with emotional nuance and deeply absorbing, Love Can’t Feed You is a potent debut from a powerful new voice.”
—Helen Phillips, author of The Need

“Cherry Lou Sy’s picaresque-like LOVE CAN'T FEED YOU follows five years of our mixed Chinese Filipina narrator’s life as she immigrates to New York, adapts to her family’s fracturing dynamic, and transitions to adulthood. Imbued with folklore and biting social critique, this novel interrogates the ways young women come to terms with their own desires inside familial and social structures designed to work against them. ‘We can’t eat stories,’ the narrator claims, but I swallowed this alternately haunting and heartening tale whole, and chewed on it long after.”
—Jami Nakamura Lin, author of The Night Parade

“One of my favorite genres is New York City immigrant literature, and so it is extra-thrilling to immerse oneself in a new entry in that canon! Cherry Lou Sy brings her expert playwriting gifts into the realm of Filipina coming-of-age novel and the results are stunning. At every turn, I was struck by our storyteller’s stunning precision—that kind of attention to detail is often described as ‘cold’ and ‘sharp’ but in Cherry Lou Sy’s moving novel the skill is sourced from much warmth and tenderness. Plus, the unwillingness to simplify and spoon-feed identity is key to why LOVE CAN’T FEED YOU works so well; this novel is an intensely engrossing master-class in a most real all-encompassing humanity!” —Porochista Khakpour, author of Brown Album: Essays on Exile and Identity

Love Can't Feed You is a stunningly written, devastating book about all manners of suspension, between countries, between parents, between identities, between what it is to be a woman and what it is to be a girl. Cherry Lou Sy is a brilliant and exacting observer of human uncertainty and desire and this book is an utter thrill.”
—Lynn Steger Strong, author of Flight

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593474549
ISBN-10: 0593474546
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: October 8th, 2024
Pages: 336
Language: English