Meilin, Renshu and Lily are three generations of a family. Meilin is a mother who is practical and strong and does everything to protect Renshu and give him a chance for survival and success despite a childhood lived through the Japanese occupation of China. The first part of the book follows their lives as refugees trying to outrun the war. They survive some harrowing moments and we see glimpses of different cities and cultures within China in the 1930s. They eventually land in Taiwan where we see the struggle to feel safe in a country where everyone is looking for freedom and yet that is threatened at every turn. We see Renshu separate from his mother and immerse himself in America, balancing his identity with his desire to assimilate in his new home. He goes on to have a daughter who wants desperately to identify with being Chinese and how her father’s fears and expectations impact her life.
I love a sweeping generational story and this one has such resonant characters that are so easy to slip into and empathize with. I did miss Meilin when we moved on to Renshu and Renshu when we moved onto Lily but I really liked each character and the arc of their story. There are heartbreaking moments and hopeful ones mixed in with a great education on that era in Chinese history. My favorite part was the scroll held within the family that told ancient Chinese fairytales that resonated with the characters at many points in their lives.
If you loved Pachinko or Beasts of a Little Land, then this one is for you. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐
Thanks to LibroFM and Netgalley for access to this novel. I went on to purchase it after I read/listened to it. All opinions above are my own.
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