Leslie D. (Le Roy, NY)
A Hundred Flowers
This character-driven story is perfect for book groups and will appeal to readers of historical fiction. Told from multiple points of view, it concentrates on one Chinese family during Mao's Hundred Flowers campaign in 1957. Life changes for all the people in the book, and although they long wistfully for the past, they each meet their new challenges in unexpected ways. Although the time frame and themes are very similar to Lisa See's Dreams of Joy, the precise storytelling has a much different feel. A great way to learn Chinese history, I really enjoyed this book.
Jan M. (Jenks, OK)
Harsh and Sweet
Author Gail Tsukiyama gives her readers a glimpse of the harshness of life in China during the time the Communists were in power. Yet, at the same time, she shares with us the gentleness of her characters. Kai Ying, the mother of Tao is so strong as she manages to carry on, yet her kind nature reveals itself when she takes in Suyin, a 15 year old homeless and pregnant girl. Grandfather Wei is amazing in his tenacity as he travels to see his imprisoned son, and it was neat the way the writer introduced us to a new character,Tian, during his train trip to the prison.
It was interesting to me the way the writer moved from character to character seamlessly. The book flowed well and always kept this reader looking forward to what was going to happen next. This is a book I will suggested to my book club as I think it might generate some interesting discussion.
Marcia M. (Woburn, MA)
Having heard so much about Gail Tsukiyama's writing, I was very excited to receive this ARC of A Hundred Flowers. I really wanted to like this story set in the China of 1957; but alas, my excitement faded as I plodded through this book. I never really connected to these characters, and I felt these characters never really connected to (or convinced me about) the social horrors going on around them. Perhaps this was not just the right time for me and this book to meet. For now, I'll put in in the "have to reread" this pile. Maybe I'll get it the second time through.
Sandra S. (Kula, HI)
A Hundred Flowers
I chose to review this book because I have been reading a lot about China both fiction and non fiction, especially about Mau. I found this book quite unrealistic in the way the family was able to get by when the Sheng had been sent to hard labor camp for his alledged letter written during the time of "A Hundred Flowers." I think they would have been far more deprived. They never lacked for food or for herbs for Kai Yings practice. I tired of hearing about the herbs and the garden of Song. Sweet story but I feel unrealistic
Andrea B. (Clinton, WA)
Slow moving story
This story takes place during the time in China when citizens are encouraged by Mao to express their thoughts about the government (1956). Unfortunately, this suggestion backfires on the family in this story when one of the family members writes a letter critiquing the government. The arrest of the man of the house is devastating to his father, wife and son. The story follows the thoughts and experiences of each of the family members that are left behind, as well as a young pregnant girl that is taken in by the family. The characters are well drawn and believable, as is the setting and the political situation, from what I know of China during that time. Although this was an interesting story, the lack of action and the rather abrupt ending kept me from giving this book a more enthusiastic rating. I have enjoyed other books by this author more than I enjoyed this one.
Carole C. (Upper Marlboro, MD)
A Hundred Flowers; No Literary Bouquet
Anticipation of a compelling story that would provide insight into the terrible period of suppression, anti-intellectualism, and desecration of the arts under the rule of China's Mao Tse-Tung and the People's Party led me to choose Gail Tsukiyama's "A Hundred Flowers" to review. I was sorely disappointed. The plot was predictable. Although each short chapter was titled with the name of a character, the point-of-view was third person, which in this case resulted in characters with little depth or distinction. Tao, the seven-year-old, displays some emotional growth in his understanding of his grandfather Wei by the end of the book. Perhaps the Kapok tree shows the most growth; at least its machete-made scar has healed.
Karen D. (Dedham, MA)
A Way of Life
A beautiful but sometimes a sad tale of life. I forgot how life could be in another culture at another time.
Precious memories of time gone past is all that some have. These memories keep them going on in life.
I have read other books by this author. I enjoyed this book but my favorite is still The Samurai's Garden.