I was excited to find out 12 year old William's story, to find out who Willow Frost was, to drink in the foundation of a 1920's Seattle's China Town history. I long to find a life entrenched in the pages, some chapters I did just that, others I felt like I was just being told descriptions. When the book was in the present with William as its narrator it could be far-fetched, his years were lower than his wisdom, yes, had been though some pretty tough stuff, but was he really wise beyond his years? Maybe. Maybe I'm just basing his 12 years from observing my children's life up to12 and not being fair to the fact that the times were different, he lived in an orphanage, he had to pretty much do for himself something my children never had to, maybe that made him wise... It just didn't sit right, when the story of Willow was in focus: of her past then the story soared!! The details so deliciously written that I could smell Uncle Leo's sweat and the dirt surrounding Auntie Eng. I could feel the pain, the shame and the sane steps that Willow took to care for her so deeply loved child. This was the meat to the book, the part where Mr. Ford pulled me in. When the present day came, I had to be sucked back up to the surface kicking and screaming for more of the good stuff. I didn't want to be reading the more superficial writing, I wanted to drown in the memories.
Over all this book is well written as most of the book is steeped in the memories, I just can't give it a 5 because it didn't give me a complete escape.
This book is tragic in a totally different way than Hotel on the Corner. It is filled with the shame a girl receives when perceived as one who has done all the wrong things. Poor Liu Song's only wrong was being born into a loving family that was destroyed by an epidemic and stuck in the world of an "uncle" who was a sick, twisted individual. One who raped her, threatened he,r and gambled away her life for his own selfishness.
The one true disappointment I felt for this book was the finality of Liu Song's relationship with Colin. I just didn't see him as the type of person who he ended up being. Such a horribly wrong directed twist. It would have been better if he has just never returned as it destroyed all the love story aspect of the book.
In hindsight I guess I shouldn't have been so invested in the love story between two adults. I should've only focused on the true theme of this book: a Love Story of a mother, and of son's longing for the love he remembered. Very fitting to a read leading up to my own Mother's Day.
One of Willow's acting peers Stepin sums it up best for me, "The things that we do, that makes us so black, and leave us feeling so blue."