It's 1982 and thirty-two-year-old Danny Lim has returned to his parent's home after leaving at age eighteen to escape the constant demands of his father the continual questioning from his mother. He has returned because his sister, Cindy, told him: "I can't do it by myself anymore...all they do is wonder where I am." Danny felt he never really belonged. He had been meeting Cindy for drinks once a week for the last thirteen years at various bars and restaurants in the Vancouver area.
Danny enters the house where Cindy is waiting with a pair of slippers for him. He immediately feels unwell and tells Cindy he thinks he's going to be sick. He then tells her: "we could leave together. Let's get the hell out of here...get your shoes, my car is right outside." Cindy responds in a clipped voice: "they need me. Maybe you've forgotten Danny I'm not you."
Doug and Betty, Danny's parents each blame each other for Danny leaving. Doug is not very welcoming when Danny steps into the living room and says hello to his father. Doug retorts: "So, you're back...you haven't visited once all this time. What makes you think I want to see you?"
Danny works as a photographer during the day and is still waiting for that one photo that will make him famous. At night he walks around Stanley Park where he harbours a secret.
Back in 1958 he met a burlesque dancer he formed a connection with. Her name was Miss Val, a.k.a. the Siamese Kitten. She had given Danny a green silk belt and he remembers the kindness and understanding she showed him. He decides to find her. It was Miss Val's easy acceptance of him so long ago that propels him to locate her. Danny felt more accepted Miss Val in those brief few minutes than he ever did with his own parents.
I really enjoyed this novel as I could relate to the non-acceptance that Danny felt. His parents were not the loving and understanding parents that he so craved but he found that in just those few minutes with Miss Val. It makes me feel terrible for Danny to think that a few minutes of someones undivided attention and easy going personality could make Danny feel accepted, something his own family couldn't achieve in thirty-two years!
Danny was a solitary soul who carried a secret that bothered him. Something he couldn't understand himself. I think it derived from the feeling of being unloved and non-accepted by his family. How can you grow up without that safe, settled, accepted feeling and not turn out to be a loner? I just think how deeply this non-acceptance has hit Danny that he would want to search out someone who accepted him for a few short minutes some twenty odd years ago.
The writing was paced just right and delved into the life of the protagonist with precise timing. A careful eye and profund ability to lead us on this journey with Danny makes you feel as though you are there, going through every step with him. If I had to rate this book I would give it a five out of five.
July 8, 2011