Two star-crossed teenagers fall in love during the Hong Kong protests in this searing contemporary novel about coming-of-age in a time of change.
Sixteen-year-old Phoenix knows her parents have invested thousands of dollars to help her leave Hong Kong and get an elite Ivy League education. They think America means big status, big dreams, and big bank accounts. But Phoenix doesn’t want big; she just wants home. The trouble is, she doesn’t know where that is … until the Hong Kong protest movement unfolds, and she learns the city she’s come to love is in danger of disappearing.
Seventeen-year-old Kai sees himself as an artist, not a filial son, and certainly not a cop. But when his mother dies, he’s forced to leave Shanghai to reunite with his estranged father, a respected police officer, who’s already enrolled him in the Hong Kong police academy. Kai wants to hate his job, but instead, he finds himself craving his father’s approval. And when he accidentally swaps phones with Phoenix and discovers she’s part of a protest network, he finds a way to earn it: by infiltrating the group and reporting their plans back to the police.
As Kai and Phoenix join the struggle for the future of Hong Kong, a spark forms between them, pulling them together even as their two worlds try to force them apart. But when their relationship is built on secrets and deception, will they still love the person left behind when the lies fall away?
About the Author
K. X. Song is a diaspora writer with roots in Hong Kong and Shanghai. An Echo in the City is her debut novel.
“This was a compelling read for the star-crossed lovers romance, but it also brought a lot of information about the state of Hong Kong and the reasons for the protests… Nix and Kai were both compelling and flawed characters who are figuring out what they want and who they want to be, as well as falling in love.”
“This book felt like it was written just for me—it hugged me and let me know my experiences as a diasporic Hong Kong-American were valid while making me swell with pride in my ancestors and kin, even if I will never know them.”
“K.X. Song writes from both sides of riot gear, giving the story a very human lens. At its heart, it’s a story about Hong Kong, its people, its spirit, and its fight for freedom, but it’s told on such a personal level, through two teenagers with seemingly nothing to gain and love, innocence, and life to lose.”
* “Lyrical and evocative … A riveting and meaningful coming-of-age story.”
—Kirkus, starred review
“A gorgeous, stirring book; a stellar debut.”
—Jeff Zentner, award-winning author of The Serpent King
"An honest and searing portrait of the Hong Kong protests … A story that will stay with me for a long time."
—Axie Oh, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea
“A luminous, unforgettable debut … Read this; you'll walk away changed.”
—Grace D. Li, New York Times bestselling author of Portrait of a Thief
"The vibrant writing is saturated with the colors and sounds of the beating heart of Hong Kong— and the quieter, internal search for belonging and identity. This wholehearted debut will challenge you and stay with you for a long time."
—Alexandra Villasante, Lambda Literary award-winning author of The Grief Keeper
“A deeply powerful and poignant story about finding one’s voice in the face of struggle and love in times of turmoil.”
—Susan Lee, author of Seoulmates
“A gripping story that leaves you contemplating what it means to take a stand on the things that matter.”
—XiXi Tian, author of This Place is Still Beautiful
“A poignant, riveting story of hope and love and what it means to be a part of your community… Absolutely phenomenal.”
—Zoulfa Katouh, author of As Long As the Lemon Trees Grow
"A heartstopping, nuanced, and important look at the cost—and the power—of revolution."
—Kelly Loy Gilbert, author of Picture Us In the Light
“An unflinching depiction of two teens living through a fraught period in history.”
“Readers will be drawn in by the complex characters and relationships … tense and riveting.”
“Song’s debut thoughtfully examines class and belonging…Full of action and romance, this page-turning read, bittersweet but hopeful, lingers.”
“The novel succeeds in using the lens of young love in an undercover thriller to capture a significant historical moment … [and] manages the difficult balancing act of exploring various characters’ viewpoints on the China/Hong Kong political situation with nuance.”