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Daughters of Shandong

by Eve J. Chung

Daughters of Shandong by Eve J. Chung X
Daughters of Shandong by Eve J. Chung
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Betty T. (Warner Robins, GA)

Beautiful story of women coping
Eve J. Chung's debut novel, Daughters of Shandong, offers a poignant and compelling narrative of a mother and her daughters' courageous escape to Taiwan during the turbulent times of the Communist revolution in China. Set against the backdrop of civil war and political upheavals in 1948, the Ang family, particularly the four daughters, becomes the focal point of the story.

The novel delves into the lives of the Ang family, focusing on Hai, the eldest daughter, and her three sisters. In a society where sons are highly valued, the lack of a male heir becomes a cause of concern for the wealthy Angs. The Communist army's advance forces the prosperous household to flee, leaving the daughters and their abused mother behind as they are deemed burdensome.

Chung weaves a gripping tale as Hai, selected for trial due to her position as the eldest, faces the brutality of the land-seizing cadres. The narrative unfolds as the women, driven by resilience and resourcefulness, embark on a harrowing journey from the countryside to the bustling city of Qingdao, British Hong Kong, and eventually Taiwan. Their odyssey is marked by the changing tide of a nation and the challenges faced by those caught in the wake of revolution.

The author's prose is assured and evocative, bringing to life impeccably drawn characters. The Ang daughters emerge as unforgettable and complex figures, each with a unique story to tell. The novel captures the enduring love between mothers, daughters, and sisters, portraying the sacrifices made to secure a better future for generations to come.

Chung's skillful storytelling navigates through the political upheavals of mid-century China, providing readers with a spellbinding and transportive experience. The Ang daughters' will to survive resonates on every page, offering a glimpse into a world of despair and hope. The novel not only entertains but also educates and inspires, making it a rare work of fiction that lingers in the minds of readers long after the last page.

Daughters of Shandong stands out as a powerful exploration of the resilience of women in times of war, offering a hopeful narrative that emphasizes the strength found in the bonds of family. Eve J. Chung's debut is a noteworthy addition to historical fiction, promising to illuminate various facets of humanity through its compelling storytelling.
Power Reviewer
Becky H. (Manassas, VA)

"Worthless" girls are powerful
"Girls are nothing more than wives for other people's sons." And so begins the story of Hai, her mother and her sisters. When the communist revolution comes to their area, the girls and their mom are left behind by their wealthy landowning family with only a vague promise to return for them.
Enemies of the communists because of the family's wealth and importance, the girls and their mother are evicted with no money or food as enemies of the people. Hai, the eldest daughter not yet a teen, narrates this compelling, barely fictionalized account of the journey by foot through China toward Taiwan. The girls come alive on the pages as their harrowing tale is told.
Chung relates the story of her grandmother with deftness and empathy. Although filled with danger, poverty, and continuing disasters, the story offers hope, resilience, love and the power of faith and kindness. Readers will learn much about the Communist takeover of China and the ravages war brings to a peasant population. Book groups will have many topics for discussion from foot binding to the importance of education. I highly recommend this book.
Cindy B. (Waukee, IA)

Daughters of Shandong
A fast paced historical fiction novel that keeps the reader turning pages until the end. The reader follows the Ang women as they flee from their home in Shandong, China to Taiwan during the Chinese Communist Party's overthrow of the Nationalist Party. A story of the power of resourcefulness, resilience, and love prevailing over cultural beliefs, poverty and cruelty. The best historical fiction I've read this year.
Patricia W. (Desoto, TX)

Daughters of Shandong
I loved this story set during the Communist takeover of China. I learned about the history and culture of China which highlighted the destruction of the people and their way of life during this time, the brutality of war, and gender inequality. From the story's emphasis on gender inequality, I learned about the damage that it has on individuals and its harsh effects on society. I was moved by the relationships and the portrayal of the mother and her daughters in their relentless struggle to survive as their lives were continually torn apart. I was uplifted to read about the kindness that some people displayed helping others in similar situations while enduring unspeakable hardship. I have added this book to my list for our book club and look forward to a meaningful discussion.
Nick S. (Plymouth, MA)

Heart Wrenching, Great Read
Daughters of Shandong was both very sad and very uplifting - it allowed me to better understand how wars / revolutions impact refugees, as well as the indestructability of the human spirit working against the tide of bureaucracy, war, politics, and tradition.
Elise Borovicka

Page Turning Historical Fiction
I have read other books about the Chinese Revolution, so I was not surprised by the brutality of the treatment that many of the Chinese landowners faced. The Ang family are wealthy landowners. They are warned that the Nationalists are losing the war and they should escape to avoid the wrath of the Communist party. Hai, her sisters and mother are chosen to guard the family home, so the rest of the family can escape to safety. The women are soon forced to leave the home and are faced with huge obstacles as refugees. Many of the friends that they make as refugees are far more generous and caring than the Ang family that they lived with. The mother and her daughters’ treatment in their family home was infuriating. Girls were disposable, and if you didn’t give birth to a boy – you were worthless. This book is a fictionalized account of Eve Chung’s grandparents and is definitely a page turner.
Melanie B. (Desoto, TX)

Riveting and Inspiring
This is one of the best books I've read all year! The story of the Ang family and the harrowing journey of Hai, Di, Lan and their Mom as they flee Communist China to be reunited with their with Dad in Taiwan kept me turning pages to find out what would happen next. This novel is very good and it was hard to put down until the end.
Susanna K. (Willow Street, PA)

Although this is a novel it is based on historical events. It is well written and descriptive which made putting it down difficult as I wanted to continue! One becomes totally immersed in the lives and culture of this Chinese family. Learning about the history of the Chinese Nationalists under Chiang Kai-Shek versus The Peoples Republic of China under Mao Zedong was alarming. When the family fled, Hua, her mother and sisters were abandoned by their father and the Ang family only because they were female and thus dispensable. Their incredible journey for survival through mainland China to Taiwan and a future was fraught with so many difficulties but their will and strength to go on was beyond comprehension. I felt as if I with them every step of their journey!

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