Saved as Draft: Stories of Self-Discovery Through Letters and Notes

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 30 Sep 2019

Member Reviews

I'm honestly not entirely sure what to think about this. The author has some deep and rich thoughts, linking parts of her life together and building a level of interest I can't deny- but I don't like the sense that these thoughts are unfinished, when there is clearly much more digging that could be done. Interesting concept for someone seeking something 'new' style-wise.
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I was intrigued with the idea of this book, but in it's execution it fell short. While I understand that the draft portion meant there would be underdeveloped sections, the entire book felt unfinished to me. It lacked both context and a resolution for me. I often found myself confused with what was happening or who certain people were. While I enjoy the theme of searching for something, I personally didn't love this one.
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After“Stargazing,” I read all of ND Chan’s poetry to the tune of Oasis’ “Wonderwall.” 

“Stargazing” is my favorite story in her collection of flash fiction and poetry, "Saved as Draft: Stories of Self-Discovery Through Letters & Notes." Set during her morning commute through New York City's Grand Central Station, a trip to the information booth reminds her of the trips she took with an ex-girlfriend a decade ago. It’s the constellations painted on the station’s ceiling that must have inspired the title of the story about a reckless friend who believed, “stars burn the brightest before they disappear.”

The song “Wonderwall” plays before she leaves the station. She must have her earbuds on like the thousand others passing under the stars on their daily commute. According to Wikipedia, Noel Gallagher wrote “Wonderwall” about an imaginary friend “who's gonna come and save you from yourself.” Wikipedia says Noel wrote it about his ex-wife but Noel has since denied that. Wikipedia also says the original title of the song was “Wishing Stone.”   

I pieced together the details from her story, “Wonderwall’s lyrics, and what Wikipedia had to say about its meaning, and found a familiar sensation. The feeling that I’m in a movie and what I’m hearing over my headphones is the soundtrack to the scene I’m in right now. The scene where I’m doing something quite ordinary like going to work and then suddenly experience something very extraordinary like getting caught up in a chase scene or bumping into the character intended to be my love interest later in the story.

It’s feeling like it isn’t just me that appeals to me most about ND Chan’s stories in "Saved as Draft." In “Hands of Death,” she obsesses over the consequences of family members dying. I go through seven minutes of panic every time someone in my family is more than 10 minutes late. In “Out of Focus,” she rationalizes staying in a relationship without “butterflies or sparks.” I’ve stayed in relationships longer than I should because I just wanted to know someone was there even if only in body. There are other instances when I’ve quietly said to myself, “yes, I’ve been there too.” Scenes scattered throughout her book. But it’s these three stories where the connection is the strongest and most obvious.

When the title of the collection is "Saved as Draft," it’s expected that the stories feel a little rough and unfinished. I imagine ND rummaging through her mother’s drawers in “Clue,” not sure of what she is looking for but motivated by “an insatiable desire to find out more.” Like her mother’s designer coats, ND has organized her stories thematically. Each section of her collection begins with the greeting “Dear” -- Dear Reader, Dear China, Dear Mom, Dear Father, etc. -- as if addressed to someone she either misses or maybe not that close with. “Dear” can also carry an air of formality in this day and age of text and email where “Hi” seems to be greeting enough. “Stargazing” appears in the section, Dear Ex-Lover 1. It might also be my favorite selection of stories with Dear Ex-Lover 2 and Dear Father, second and third.

I wonder if her mother ever suspected ND of going through her things? Or if ND was ever worried about being caught? Did she ever go back and find something new? As a reader, I wasn’t worried about being caught going through her things. ND has invited me to do so. However, even though I wasn’t rushing to finish before ND came home, at the end of the book I was still left feeling like ND in “Clue.” 

And some of the things I found seemed out of place and uncharacteristic. Among the weakest stories in her book is “White Girls.” It relays familiar Asian American stories of assimilation, bullying, and cultural identity. In a different closet or room it might have offered a significant clue but in this room is just seems contrived, as if it was written to fulfill some unspoken rule that Asian American authors must included at least one story about culture and identity in their books. 

Up until this point, race has not been mentioned beyond her telling us that her stepfather was Caucasian. “White Girls” might have made sense if ND had written a letter to her step father. How did he treat her knowing that she came along as a part of a package (mother and daughter)? Was he aware that his new girlfriend had a daughter in China? Was her half-brother more Caucasian looking? Did he struggle like she did? How did her maternal grandparents treat him or her other sisters? 

“White Girls” might have made sense to me if race and culture were brought up in Dear Ex-Lover 1 or 2. While we’re on the topic, were they white girls too? If they were, did she at any point in either of the relationships feel fetishized? If they were white girls too, didn’t she date Asians? She couldn’t have been the only Asian lesbian in the five boroughs. 

Staying true to the notion of this being a collection of drafts, I think “White Girls” is a book on its own. It's my least favorite story here because it could be so much more. It think what is presented in "Saved as Draft" works well as drafts, quick writing practice that will seed bigger stories with more pictures to accompany the poems I now sing to “Wonderwall.”
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I have loved to write since I was little. I’d write out short stories and draw pictures. In junior high I kept a diary and in high school. I am grieved I chucked those personal histories. All because they were triggers regarding ex boyfriends. Diaries are moments captured in real time. I wish I had kept them, so that I’d have that unique history to look back on.

N.D. Chan wrote Saved As A Draft to show that even emails we may not send, letters we write, but chicken out to mail are still our written history and important to keep. Her memoir is her collection of such writings that follow her journey from living in China with her grandparents to moving to the USA to live with her mom and stepdad. N.D. shares her exploration to find out more about the dad she never knew. She also, dives into what first crushes and relationships are like when you’re a teenager. The author discusses what it was like to try to meet other ladies who are into ladies in a time when it wasn’t as safe to be out as it is now. N.D. also, includes poems.

This memoir is short, but filled with so much heart. I felt sucked right in from the start. As a little kid a lot of the time at a new school I felt like the odd man out. Being super short is not cute when the older kids find it humorous to pick you up and not put you down and being mistaken for a Kindergartner in the third grade. I know what it’s like to not understand why our parents may choose to do what they do. N.D. struggles wondering why her mom decided to wait so long to have her move to the USA to be with her. I have a lot of memories of having crushes on both girls and boys growing up. I remember just staring at one poor boy in the first grade relentlessly during the time we’d have to put our heads down for quiet time.

I received a complimentary digital copy of Saved As Draft by N.D. Chan from NetGalley. The views are my own and of my own will. I loved this book and hope there will be more books from this author. Some authors you read and sense they are a kindred spirit. Thank you N.D. for sharing your beautiful soul with the world. Keep on. writing.
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My rating - 3.75 stars.
I was intrigued by the title of the book itself : Saved as Draft.
This book is a biography that is portrayed through letters and notes shedding light on the relationship that the author shares with her mother, grandparents, herself and being raised without a father. The book is beautifully penned which takes us on a journey as the author shifts to US with her mother. Raw emotions are expressed in the book and there were points where I could feel the author's heartache.

My 3.75 star rating reflects that there were moments where I felt lost and I felt like there was potential for more which could have made me connect even more on an emotional level.

Overall, it was a good read and I recommend it.
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I was intrigued by the premise of Saved as Draft. The idea of self-discovery through letters and notes is something that we don't often see. N.D Chan's work is unique, they show us the world through a variety of lenses as a small child left to be raised by her Grandparents before being brought to the US to her mother, but not her father. It also looks at the relationships they have, their exes, the relationship with their mother and, most importantly themselves. I did enjoy reading but felt that it could have gone into more detail, it wasn't until the end that I thought I had connected with the author - but I would like to know more. I gave this 3 stars. Thank you to the author, publisher and Netgalley for this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I received this ARC from NetGalley in trade for an honest opinion and reflection.

I was excited to read this book and it started off well with the first few pages but after that I just did not feel intrigued enough to continue reading. I did want to see the overall message though so I made it to the end. I cannot rate someone’s own life experience in comparison to mine as we are all unique. I firstly didn’t particularly feel anything from the short poems between letters and I felt they lack a little oomph. I did feel the heartache from her though and that her story is as important as everyone else’s. I think it was very short and could have been longer and I think with further analysis and more honest reflection this could be something truly special.

Final Rating: 2.5 stars!
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Beautifully written a book of self discovery a child sent back to China in childhood to live with her grandparents .aGrown woman who discovers her mother sent her to live with her grandparents because she didn’t have time for her.Layers peeled away questions asked and answered a lyrical memoir that will stay with you, #netgalley#friesenpress.
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SAVED AS DRAFT: STORIES OF SELF-DISCOVERY THROUGH LETTERS AND NOTES

BY N.D. CHAN

 

FRIESENPRESS

BIOGRAPHIES & MEMOIRS

PUB DATE 06 AUG 2019

 

 

I am reviewing a copy of Saved As Draft through FriesenPress and Netgalley:

 

 

N.D Chan was born in Chinatown New York but after her Father was murdered in a street shooting her Mother sent her to live with her Grandparents in Guangzhou China, where she would stay until her Mother got remarried but after she was remarried to a dentist and they became wealthy living in Long Island, N.D would find her Mother really didn’t have time for her.  When her Mother was busy and away she would go through her Mother’s drawers, hoping to get to know who her Mother had been.

 

This brief Books is a series of observations about who she is, and who her family is, it’s a very brief look into her self-discovery.

 

I gives Saved As Draft three out of five stars!
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It is an enticing read. A biography written in a letter style. As a working mom myself, I feel some of the letter for/about her mom quite relevant for me. It's like reading about what I worry about and what I hope for. 

The book is beautifully written and worth to read especially for coming of age reader. 

Thank you netgalley and friesen press for providing the arc
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