A Thread of Sky: Book summary and reviews of A Thread of Sky by Deanna Fei

A Thread of Sky

A Novel

by Deanna Fei

A Thread of Sky
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2010
    368 pages
    Genre: Novels

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About this book

Book Summary

Looking to reconnect with their ancestral home and with one another, three generations of women tour mainland China on a journey that will change their family forever.

A stunning debut, A Thread of Sky is the story of a family of women and the powerful thread that binds their lives. In following the paths chosen by six fiercely independent women, A Thread of Sky explores the terrain we must travel to recognize the strength and vulnerability of those closest to us.

When her husband of thirty years is killed in a devastating accident, Irene Shen and her three daughters are set adrift. Nora, the eldest, retreats into her high-powered New York job and a troubled relationship. Kay, the headstrong middle child, escapes to China to learn the language and heritage of her parents. Sophie, the sensitive and artistic youngest, is trapped at home until college, increasingly estranged from her family - and herself. Terrified of being left alone with her grief, Irene plans a tour of mainland China's must sees, reuniting three generations of women - her three daughters, her distant poet sister, and her formidable eighty-year-old mother - in a desperate attempt to heal her fractured family.

If only it was so easy. Each woman arrives bearing secrets big and small, and as they travel - visiting untouched sections of the Great Wall and the seedy bars of Shanghai, the beautiful ancient temples and cold, modern shopping emporiums - they begin to wonder if they will ever find the China they seek, the one their family fled long ago.

Over days and miles they slowly find their way toward a new understanding of themselves, of one another, and of the vast complexity of their homeland, only to have their new bonds tested as never before when the darkest, most carefully guarded secret of all tumbles to the surface and threatens to tear their family apart forever. A Thread of Sky is a beautifully written and deeply haunting story about love and sacrifice, history and memory, sisterhood and motherhood, and the connections that endure.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"With its mother-daughter conflicts, a feminist message, and an exploration of Chinese roots, this novel will appeal to fans of Amy Tan as well as readers who generally enjoy ... Julia Alvarez, Gish Jen, and Gus Lee" - Library Journal

"Fei stakes a claim in Amy Tan territory with this satisfying tale." - Booklist

"A Thread of Sky is a remarkable debut by a gifted young novelist. Deanna Fei is an accomplished writer with keen insight into cross-cultural Chinese-American rootlessness and the ties that bind women of several generations. A wonderful book!" - Anita Shreve, author of A Change in Altitude

"A Thread of Sky is a lyrical journey through the heart of contemporary China, and the family of women who make the pilgrimage across these pages are as complicated, broad-ranging, and fascinating as the country itself. Deanna Fei is one to watch." - Ann Patchett, author of Run and Bel Canto

"The story unfurls smoothly, yet never really touches the heart." - Publishers Weekly

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Reader Reviews

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Myra B. (corvallis, oregon)

A thread of Sky by Deanna Fei
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The interwoven relationships between the women is what I found most appealing. Five women from three generations in very different places in their lives travel to China to reconnect to each other. Through their travels, many family secrets come to light. Sharing the secrets brings these women closer together and more understanding of each others lives.

Jane N. (Little Egg Harbor, New Jersey)

A Thread of Sky
Wow, what a great start for this author. There is so much to like about this book on many levels. The themes are universal, growing up, growing old and learning how to deal with all of life's seasons. I identified with the mother and the grandmother the most and I'm sure that anyone who reads this book will also have their favorite characters. The trip through modern China is fascinating ! A good read and a great choice for a book club !

Beth C. (Sioux Falls, SD)

Mothers/Daughters and the Sights & Sounds of China
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Deanna Fei's book, "A Thread of the Sky". This novel weaves a marvelous tapestry - both with the relationships of grandmother, sisters, and daughters and the history and perceptions of life that each brings to their two-week vacation trip to China.

I found the characters to be very realistic in their relationships with each other and in their reactions to what they were seeing. Fei does a marvelous job describing the scenes in various Chinese locales and the reactions of the Chinese -American daughers to the food, the shops, the toilet facilities as well as the actual sights.

This would be a great discussion book for book groups.

Ginny P. (Alexandria, Virginia)

A Thread of Sky
An outstanding book, especially by a new, published author. The characters are strong and complex without being predictable. The author has developed a wide-range of women characters: a modern-day teenager getting ready to leave her family for college, three women in between with their own unique challenges, and a grandmother at the end of her fascinating life who is re-examining her defining moments. Although this book takes places within the context of an Asian family and backdrop, anyone who enjoys strong characters, family dynamics, and debut novels will appreciate this stunning book.

Lisa B. (Denton, TX)

Loosely woven threads
I really enjoyed the book and thought it was well written and the characters were well developed. It reminded me a lot of an Amy Tan book, as other reviews have mentioned. The relationships between all the women in the book read so much like real life.

I think the book could have been improved by cutting out the rambling thoughts and preachy internal dialogue. It slowed the pace of the book and slowed down my reading. I found myself quickly skimming those sections so that I could get to the real meat of the story.

Overall, I think it was definitely worth reading and I have been suggesting it to my friends.

Carole A. (Denver, CO)

The beauty of this book is the journey!
A Thread of Sky was well written about three generations of Chinese women and their journey together - and alone. This novel could have been about three generations of women in any family. While part of the same family or a single thread they all have their own journey that has changed them and taken them apart. The beauty of this book is the hanging on to that single thread which is family. Descriptions of China through different eyes was an interesting background. Bravo to Fei - may she continue to write and grow!

...15 more reader reviews

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More Information

More Information

Deanna Fei was born in Flushing, New York, and has lived in Beijing and Shanghai, China. A graduate of Amherst College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she has received a Fulbright grant, a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship, and a Chinese cultural scholarship, among other awards. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she teaches in public schools and is at work on her second novel. Visit Deanna at www.deannafei.com

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