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Central Places by Delia Cai
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Central Places

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Narrator Natalie Naudus

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Length 9 hours 28 minutes
Language English
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Brought to you by Penguin.

Audrey Zhou left Hickory Grove, the tiny central Illinois town where she grew up, as soon as high school ended, and she never looked back. She moved to New York City and became the person she always wanted to be, complete with a high-paying, high-pressure job and a seemingly faultless fiancé. But if she and Manhattan-bred Ben are to build a life together, in the dream home his parents will surely pay for, Audrey can no longer hide him, or the person she's become, from those she left behind.

But returning to Hickory Grove is . . . complicated. Over the course of one disastrous week, Audrey's proximity to her family and to Kyle, her unrequited high school crush, forces her to confront the past and reexamine her fraught connection to her roots before she undoes everything she's worked toward and everything she's imagined for herself. But is that life really the one she wants?

©2023 Delia Cai (P)2023 Penguin Audio

Delia Cai was born in Madison, Wisconsin, and grew up in central Illinois. She is a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism and her writing has appeared in BuzzFeed, GQ, The Cut, and Catapult. Her media newsletter, Deez Links, has been highlighted in The New York Times, New York magazine, and Fortune. She is currently a senior correspondent at Vanity Fair and lives in Brooklyn. Central Places is her first novel.

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Reviews

Delia Cai’s sharp, swiftly moving, darkly funny debut novel….[is a] compassion filled delight [A] sharp, assured debut A sensitive, sharp-eyed, slyly funny story of venturing back into the foreign country that is your past--and discovering that you can never really shake the places and people that shaped you . . . This book will resonate with anyone who's tried to navigate the confusing terrain of family tensions, lost friendships, or embarrassing memories of youth: in short, pretty much everyone. Delia Cai fully renders the uneasy marriage between past and present. Central Places is honest about the strangeness and revelation of returning home. An incandescent debut shedding light on old friendships, half-forgotten selves, and ferocious longings past and present, Central Places is a revelation, disquieting and so very moving, and dazzling with insight. Expand reviews
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