Thursday, August 1, 2013

Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford

Young William Eng, is a Chinese-American boy, who has lived in an orphanage since he was seven. He remembers his beautiful mother, who had become sad and worn out by misfortune, being carried out of the apartment, after he found her near lifeless in their bathtub. His memories of her are strong and he is convinced that, despite what the nuns at Seattle's Sacred Heart Orphanage say, she is still alive. Then one day, the day assigned by the nuns as the birthday of all the boys at the orphanage, he sees the face of an actress in the movies, hears her sing, and is convinced she is his long-lost Songs of Willow Frost is the story of his search for his mother.

I do have to admit I've got mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, it takes place in an interesting time/place, plus has some plot elements that are intriguing. It's also clear that this is a subject very close to the author's heart. It's a story plot line that I really wanted to like. Unfortunately, I never fully engaged in the characters. I like to be able to see a story in 3D in my mind, to have an author shape and craft the characters, settings, and plot so that I feel it, that I can smell the spices in the air, or the stink in the alleys; feel the harshness of a scratchy wool, or the sleek smoothness of silk. For me, I remained in the 2 dimensional world of the pages of the book, rather than the world of the story itself. It may be that I'm a bit distracted right ow -- I had surgery right around when I started the book, and that and pain medication may have impacted my perceptions. I have read another work by this author (rather, listened to it on Radio Reader) and liked it a great deal. So the fault may be in my stars, not the author's words.

I've rounded this up to three stars, because I think any book that makes me look something up has served an extra purpose beyond reading pleasure.

Thank you to Librarything early reader program and the publisher for sending me this AR copy of the book.

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