The novel focuses on Stella Lane, a woman with Asperger’s who has trouble with relationships and intimacy. That’s when she takes up the help from Michael Phan, an escort who she hires. Their relationship is meant to be a transaction and Michael breaks his rules, ultimately having more than one session with her and letting her practice being a girlfriend.
One of the most important things that can first draw any reader in is the fact that a character who has Asperger’s is being represented, while today many characters aren’t necessarily given disabilities that mimic that of the real world. Stella herself is a character with her quirks, but is also well-written so that people can gain insight into what it’s like for people with Asperger’s.
Furthermore, the budding relationship between Michael and Stella is one that is realistic. They have their instances of fights or spats, mainly where Michael is unaware of Stella’s condition; the way loud noises trigger her or the number of intense questions confused him. After finding that news out, he becomes unsure but helpful.
Hoang also goes beyond romantic conventions. She also explores Michael’s Vietnamese heritage as well as his family structure. Hoang does well to switch between perspectives, bringing forth how Michael feels about his father leaving them, how it affects the family, and the culture in which he grew up.