Thursday, September 5, 2013

Julie's Review: Songs of Willow Frost

Summary: From Jamie Ford, the New York Times bestselling author of the beloved Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, comes a much-anticipated second novel. Set against the backdrop of Depression-era Seattle, Songs of Willow Frost is a powerful tale of two souls—a boy with dreams for his future and a woman escaping her haunted past—both seeking love, hope, and forgiveness. Twelve-year-old William Eng, a Chinese American boy, has lived at Seattle’s Sacred Heart Orphanage ever since his mother’s listless body was carried away from their small apartment five years ago. On his birthday—or rather, the day the nuns designate as his birthday—William and the other orphans are taken to the historical Moore Theatre, where William glimpses an actress on the silver screen who goes by the name of Willow Frost. Struck by her features, William is convinced that the movie star is his mother, Liu Song. Determined to find Willow and prove that his mother is still alive, William escapes from Sacred Heart with his friend Charlotte. The pair navigate the streets of Seattle, where they must not only survive but confront the mysteries of William’s past and his connection to the exotic film star. The story of Willow Frost, however, is far more complicated than the Hollywood fantasy William sees onscreen. Shifting between the Great Depression and the 1920s, Songs of Willow Frost takes readers on an emotional journey of discovery. Jamie Ford’s sweeping novel will resonate with anyone who has ever longed for the comforts of family and a place to call home.  

Review:  I've been waiting and waiting for Jamie Ford to come out with another novel. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is one of my favorite books ever. I had high hopes for Songs of Willow Frost and I wasn't disappointed. Mr. Ford has a way of simply and beautifully telling a story.

Songs of Willow Frost is a story of loss, love and hope. It is heart-wrenching to have William find his way back to his ah-ma only to be taken back to the orphanage. We learn about Liu Song through her telling William his family's story. Liu didn't have an easy life and experienced heartbreak may times in her life. It is when she meets Colin Kwan that her life changes. He introduces her to performing on stage and on the screen. She doesn't know a way out of the life of poverty that her and William are living. Liu is an interesting character because in the beginning I felt like she was selfish and self-absorbed but after hearing her story I realized that she had no other option than the one she chose.

While Sister Briganti might have seemed harsh at times, she was really trying to protect William from getting his heartbroken all over again. She was looking out for his best interest even if he didn't think she knew what was best for him. William's friend Charlotte was his emotions when he was her eyes. There's was a friendship that perhaps was destined for more.

Mr. Ford also gives us background on the flourishing motion picture business in Seattle before everything was centralized in Hollywood. It is also through this subplot that we are smacked in the face with the bigotry/racism towards Chinese-Americans. How even when filming a Chinese movie or performing a play they had white actors play those parts. I am again reminded how racism isn't just towards black but of anyone who looks different than the majority. Our history, at times, isn't pleasant.

Mr. Ford excels at storytelling and how he reveals the back story. I loved the dual time periods because they weren't decades apart and were the beginning and middle of the same story. They didn't need intersecting because they were continuous.

Final Take: 4.75/5

Songs of Willow Frost will be released on 9/10/2013 by Ballantine Books.



thecuecard September 8, 2013 at 9:56 PM  

Oh yes. I definitely want to read this. I too liked Jamie Ford's first book and hope this is as good. thanks!

Unknown September 8, 2013 at 11:26 PM  

I loved his first book, too. Can't wait to read this one.

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