Sterling Lung is a young Chinese American man struggling to create a separate identity from his parents in the 1970s. His parents are Chinese immigrants, and throughout the novel, we learn more about the hardships his parents endured and see them as individuals with their own histories.
Despite his parents' wishes, Sterling goes to culinary school after graduating from college. He specializes in French cuisine, but the New England country club he works for insists that he cook Chinese food for them. He wants to fit in and be accepted by white Americans, but they stereotype him and don't really see him as an American like them.
Sterling has been dating a Jewish woman named Bliss, and they have a lackluster long distance relationship while she is in dental school in the midwest. During one her visits to him, she becomes pregnant. Sterling does not want to get married and have a baby, but Bliss is strong-willed and gets him to marry her.
Several years later, Sterling and Bliss have two sons. He admits to favoring one son and feels guilty about it. He begins to realize that Bliss is having an affair and while spying on her, there is a tragic accident that kills one of the boys.
This synopsis report prepared by Jessica