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 his mother
is still alive, William escapes from Sacred Heart with his friend
Charlotte. The pair navigates 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
Shifting between the Great Depression and the 1920s,
Songs of Willow Frost takes readers on an emotional journey of
discovery. Jamie Ford’s sweeping book will resonate with anyone who has
ever longed for the comforts of family and a place to call home.
"William Eng woke to the sound of a snapping leather belt and the shrieking of rust springs that supported the threadbare mattress of his army surplus bed."
Jamie Ford is a gifted writer. His talent is bringing places and times to life through good storytelling. This newest book of his is no exception.
Willow's life is never really her own. She does as others ask or demand. The era she lives in is not kind to the Chinese and everywhere she turns, she is looked down on, even in her own family. Her parents were singers and actors. Willow inherited a beautiful voice and is able to earn money by singing.
The chapters are either set in 1934, William's time (Willow's 12 yr old son), or 1921, telling about Willow's younger life.
I enjoyed Jamie's last book and was excited to see this one on netgalley so I requested it. I had a hard time reading it. Without spoiling the story, let's just say I got very frustrated with the story. I learned how hard and prejudice society was toward unwed mothers AND the Chinese people. The injustices were pointed out again and again and again and again. So much so that I started skimming. I wanted something positive to happen sometime!
I never really empathized with William. He didn't act twelve. I actually thought he was younger.
I did like the romance between Willow and Colin but that one left a bitter aftertaste as well.
Finishing the book was hard, but I was determined to get through it. If not for Jamie's writing ability, I would have given up one third of the way through.
Rating: Adult reading
S: Yes: one scene of rape, implied prostitution
love story of Willow and Colin
Willow's constantly harsh life
Thanks to netgalley for the preview