At 184 pages, this was a short, sweet book, but not "an unexpected miracle" (ugh, Los Angeles Times Book Review!). It felt distant and unreal to me, partly because of Sijie's prose and partly because he did capture the disconnected, aloof, but open-hearted emotional state of a teenager. I wished the story had been dense where it was sparse, but it was more like a poem than it was like One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. I found it bothersome that neither the main character nor the love interest had a name in the book, and I found the seamstress character even more emotionally remote than the others. In the end, the book was just like the titular character: both were lovely, but neither moved me.