Rated of 5
by Peg S. (Durham, North Carolina) A Hundred Schools of Thought
The structure of short passages, fully and continuously portraying each character gave a broad view of the of the change in a professor's family's life under Mao TseTung and communism. I considered this a kaleidoscopic view of an educated Chinese family, the changes in their large home and life with the kapoc tree in their courtyard. I loved this book and want to read more by Gail Tsukiyama.
Rated of 5
by Judy B. (Santa Fe,, NM) A Hundred Flowers by Gail Tsukiyama
Gail Tsukiyama has done it again---written a most wonderful story. This is what I would call a "gentle" book........a book that "gently" tells you a story and "gently" brings you through some of life's worst moments and "gently" deposits you at the end, leaving you thinking "How wonderful is this story?"
The story starts in the late 50's in China during the Cultural Revolution. A little boy named Tao falls out of a Kapok tree in his courtyard of his house and breaks his leg. Then you find out that his father has been taken away from the home and sent to be "re-educated." The time line of the story is from July, 1958 to November, 1958, but in that time all the characters are are fully sketched and their histories are fully known. The story is told from the viewpoint of several characters: Kai Ying, the mother; Tao, the little boy; Wei, the grandfather; and Song, the Auntie. Also there is a side story of Suyin and her baby, a young 15 year old girl who is taken in by the mother.
The story builds until the grandfather confesses a secret that leads him on a journey and finally his return to the family home.
A beautiful, wonderful, "gentle" story!!!
Rated of 5
by Beth M. (Scarsdale, NY) Tsukiyama-lite
I have loved Gail Tsukiyama's books, especially Samurai's Garden. This one was enjoyable and a quick read but it was definitely not her best. The story takes place during 5 months of China's Cultural Revolution when the father of an ordinary family is taken away for voicing his opinion. The story is told from the perspective of different family members although their voices all have the same tone. Through these characters we learn what happened and how secrets and misunderstandings have been harbored. The most compelling voice is that of a 15 year old homeless, pregnant girl who becomes connected to the family. It is an easy novel to read and the author does bring all the story lines to a purposeful resolution. Having said that, I was left feeling like the depth of the story was missing. It felt more like a Young Adult novel.
Rated of 5
by Dorothy T. Under the Kapok Tree
Gail Tsukiyama has once again given readers a beautifully written novel that, unlike her other works that take place in Japan, is set in China during 1958, when the effects of Mao’s Communist regime is being felt among the people.
The story is driven by the characters of Kai Ying, her son Tao, and her father-in-law Wei. It is their journeys, both literal and within themselves, that drew me in. Each one must deal with the consequences of the absence of Sheng, Kai Ying’s husband, who was arrested and shipped off to a labor camp, and the effects on their relationships with each other. This author has a gift for making me feel like I am in the places she describes and for developing characters that I know and care about.
If you have yet to read one of her books, this is a good one to start with. If you are acquainted with her work, this one will not disappoint.
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