Rated of 5
by Virginia (San Antonio, TX)
I received this book under the Book Browse First Impression program. I really wanted to say that I loved this book because I really like Jamie Ford's first book and I wanted to be able to say I was one of the first to read a future best seller; but, unfortunately, I must confess that I can only say that I liked it rather than it was a great book. I did read it from start to finish, but I completed it out of a sense of obligation rather than I could not lay it down.
As I think about the plot of the book, I guess the story had promise. I cannot say, however, that the novel lived up to the promise of the plot. I did develop empathy for both William and Charlotte. I hoped William's dream of re-uniting with his mother would come true and I felt the helplessness that Charlotte felt. I also think the book did allow me to realize once again the discrimination heaped upon individuals of Chinese descent during the first half of the 20th century and to reinforce my resentment over how women were treated as second class citizens. What caused me to really miss out on enjoying the book was that I had the feeling as I read it that it had been written primarily as a teaching tool instead of having the feeling that the author set out to tell a good story about William and Charlotte and just as a bonus to allow me learn what life was like for some people during that era. In other words, the story was secondary to the history lesson.
My other complaint is that some of William's thoughts seemed false for a 12 year old in 1934. I am a senior citizen and am often amazed at how much wiser about life the current youngsters are as compared to what it was like when I was young. Page 63 of the book has this statement: "Public school is free, William thought, but even that has become a luxury some can't afford." The statement is absolutely correct but it is too astute for a 12 year old at that time.