Friday, August 23, 2013

Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford

William Eng is the only Chinese child at his Seattle orphanage. On the boys' birthday (they're all celebrated at once - the girls get a different day), William is shocked to see his mother starring in the movie preview for an upcoming live movie-star appearance. You can imagine that a boy like William won't rest until he sees and speaks with the actress Willow Frost.

A few years back I loved Ford's Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, and this one is just as good. The author does an fantastic job of really putting you into the American minority experience.

Bad things happen to William and his mother, Liu Song, but they aren't solely minority stories; during the depression and 1920s life was hard for many in Seattle and elsewhere, white or otherwise. But the fact that both characters are American-born Chinese (who have never been to China) does add a different flavor and accent to the story.

This story contains heartbreak and misfortune, but also innocence and optimism. And I never knew this real-world history about early American film (before Hollywood became our movie capital). Fascinating, and another great one for your book club to discuss.

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