February 17, 2017 at 10:00 AM EST

We gave it a B+

Every writer is a reader first, and Dear Friend is Li’s haunted, luminous love letter to the words that shaped her—from the flowery Chinese verse of her youth to the brilliant parade of poets, novelists, and Danish existentialists who helped see her through multiple hospitalizations for depression. (The heart wants what it wants; sometimes all it can stand is Kierkegaard.) Her own prose is both lovely and opaque, fitfully illuminating a radiant landscape of the personal and profound.

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