Songs of Willow Frost

Songs of Willow Frost

A Novel

Book - 2013
Average Rating:
11
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Twelve-year-old William Eng, a Chinese American boy, has lived at Seattle's Sacred Heart Orphanage ever since his mother's listless body was carried away from their small apartment five years ago. On his birthday, William and the other orphans are taken to the historical Moore Theatre, where William glimpses an actress on the silver screen who goes by the name of Willow Frost. Struck by her features, William is convinced that the movie star is his mother, Liu Song.
Published: New York :, Ballantine Books,, [2013]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2013
ISBN: 9780345522023
0345522028
Branch Call Number: F FOR
Characteristics: 331 pages :,map ;,25 cm

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d
DorisWaggoner
Sep 13, 2017

While Ford's first book was all but perfect, I found this one rather disappointing. Several times I almost gave up. Yet there was enough authenticity about the sad story of William and his mother Liu Song to keep me going. I kept wondering if their lives was really that dire, but by the end Ford had convinced me. Liu Song's choices really were very constricted, and she tried very hard to make the best of her life, because her greatest love was for her son, whoever his father was. The large print edition I read had some good readers' group discussion questions, that would, I suspect, spark some interesting conversation. The one about issues of abandonment, so strong in the book, and asking the reader to come up with contemporary examples, especially struck me. So not a bad book, just more depressing than "Bitter and Sweet," with a lot more bitter than sweet in this one.

g
glotet
Aug 24, 2017

I notice that someone commented on lack of authenticity in this story. I'm a senior citizen. I went to school with a boy, Georgie Chui, the son of a second wife in Canada. Chinese men who came to coastal cities mostly as exploited laborers in the early 1900's and into the 50's were not permitted to bring their families. A few would eventually establish a second family if they could afford to. Single Chinese women born here had strict boundaries.
Eventually, Georgie's father, Mr. Chiu (pronounced Chew as written in the book for the sake of pronunciation, I imagine) was able to bring his first son, Sai (pronunciation Sigh) from China to Canada. Georgie was named after my Uncle George who came from Wales. Mr. Chiu and my Uncle were neighbours and gardeners who forged a strong relationship over their lifetime. Both worked extensive garden plots during the time of WW ll and following into the 40's and 50's. Because of their common bond, in spite of Mr. Chui's Chinese and my Uncle's very strong Welsh accent, they found an effective way to communicate.
Institutional housing for children was not uncommon then, many of them under appalling conditions. Many unwed mothers, my own included, were treated poorly and shamed greatly.
The Chinese population was naturally far greater in the western coastal cities. It would seem that lack of options for single Chinese women in the US were even more limited and harsh.

This book is a wonderfully told and authentic story that needed to be told.

j
jiggyq
Aug 16, 2017

a great moving story

e
ElAnNor
Apr 24, 2017

I enjoyed Jamie Ford's first book, The Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and looked forward to reading this one, I was disappointed. I found it lacked the same authentic feeling of his first book.

k
kkelly00
Jun 19, 2014

Follows the son of a singer who gave him up to protect him. He and a female friend search for mother in Seattle, but imperils her in the finding.

l
lpodell
Mar 29, 2014

So disappointing. Poorly written. Nothing like his first.

e
EmilyEm
Jan 19, 2014

A Chinese boy William is left in a Seattle orphanage in the 1920s. In 1934, when he sees a poster advertising a variety show with a singer named Willow Frost, he believes it?s his mother. That begins his journey to discover who she is and why she left him.

Jamie Ford tells another wonderful story about families; what ties them together and tears them apart. It?s a cruel tale of what society thought morally right for young women bearing children out of wedlock. In the course of this one readers will also be immersed in 1930s Seattle?s Chinese community, Prohibition, the Great Depression and the changing world of the music and movie industry when radios came to people?s homes and movies became ?talkies.?

m
mz4bibliofile
Dec 07, 2013

This tale is sadly so much like the Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. While the story is moving it is almost formulaically tragic and sentimental. The story lacked an authenticity that his first book had. I read it but found that I could skip ahead without missing much ( never a good sign).

paulette4317 Oct 30, 2013

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet is one of my favorite books. This book is good, but I don't feel he wrote as well as he did with his first novel.

n
Nilz
Oct 11, 2013

Loved his last book - Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. And loved this book too. Fantastic, writer.

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