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Arden A. (Longboat Key, FL)
A Sad Fairy Tale
I always hold high hopes for second books of authors who hit it just right the first time, but so often those second books disappoint. This book disappoints. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is on my all-time best list; this book falls short. Yes, it is well-written, and it tells a poignant story, but it just is not as believable. It is more like a sad fairy tale, with a happy ending. It could be a Walt Disney movie, and a perfect vehicle for a musical, considering Willow's talents. You can almost picture the scenes in the orphanage being staged. We even have the requisite villains. I think there is a large audience out there who will love this book; it just wasn't for me. I didn't exactly struggle to finish it, but it was close.
Julie R. (Woodland, CA)
Songs of Willow Frost
Jamie Ford is a great storyteller. I love the way he is able to make you feel the emotions that his charters are going through and gets you so excited to see how they will end up at the end of his books.
Carole A. (Denver, CO)
Sing A Song for Songs Willow Frost
In "Songs of Willow Frost" you see that his main charters William and Liu Song Eng (aka Willow Frost") never really control their own lives. Living during an era where Chinese Americans are seen a second class citizens. They are both required to do what others ask or demand from them. From Liu Song Eng dealings with her stepfather to how William is treated in the Orphanage. It is not until some major events happen to them that they decided to take charge of their lives.
Throughout the book, you wonder will William and Willow final find the love they truly deserve or will they be let down again. It is not until the end of the book that you find out the true answer to that question.
I loved this book and can't wait to have our book club read it in September.
Thank you for the opportunity to read such a great book.
This is a winner! While I liked Ford's previous book Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet I LOVED Songs Willow Frost. The Book is a compelling read and as such I could not put it down. I finished it in under 24-hours grabbing snatches of time here and there. The writing flowed and carried you seamlessly from one page and transition to the next. Tragedy and the ensuing sadness - yes - but the humanity and the love transcend. Ford provided a believable plot with believable characters. This was a look at life as it was during a difficult period of history. Bravo Ford!
Marjorie W. (Bonita Springs, FL)
Songs of Willow Frost
Overall, this was a good read. How difficult it must have been for Willow to have such hardship thrust upon her. It is hard for one to imagine how the times dictated the way in which one was perceived. Jamie Ford successfully shows the bias of the period and the difficulties of life in the depression. I would recommend this book - good plot for discussion.
Sheila S. (Supply, NC)
Another Best Seller
Songs of Willow Frost is a worthy successor to Ford's first bestseller. I think that fans of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet will also love this one. It is set in Seattle during the Depression and gives a chilling portrayal of the lives of Chinese women during this era. Willow's life is negatively impacted by the choices her mother felt forced to make to benefit her daughter. Ironically, Willow ends up making similar decisions which impact her son William. William is a most appealing character who is dogged in his love for the mother who abandoned him. An outsider in the orphanage, he befriends another outcast and establishes a sweet relationship with Charlotte as the two try to create better lives for themselves. Only one succeeds. I enjoy the way Ford incorporates history into his novels, this time about the early days of cinema and about the Depression and the role of orphanages during those hard times. I will definitely recommend this book to my Book Club.
Mary M. (Dallas, TX)
A Bittersweet Song
The author describes Songs of Willow Frost as a "story infused with generations of hope and tribulation" but it is much more. We are given a peek at Seattle's Chinatown in the years following the market crash and depression where poverty and prejudice are the catalyst that drives a mother to leave her child in an orphanage. The story is bittersweet but one you will not want to put down. I recommend Songs of Willow Frost to anyone who loves to read well written novels.
Cam G. (Murrells Inlet, SC)
Jamie Ford's second book
Jamie Ford has written another excellent book. That being said, however, it was one of the saddest books I've read...the poverty in the time of the Great Depression, the prejudices that existed against the Asian American communities, the cruelty of the step father of Willow, the main character, all made it a rather depressing book to read.
Virginia (San Antonio, TX)
It took the tenacity of Will, a twelve year old boy, who lived in an orphanage, to search for his mother that finally brings hope into his life and that of his mother.
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.