A powerful new novel about an ordinary family facing extraordinary times at the start of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
China, 1957. Chairman Mao has declared a new openness in society: “Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend.” Many intellectuals fear it is only a trick, and Kai Ying’s husband, Sheng, a teacher, has promised not to jeopardize their safety or that of their young son, Tao. But one July morning, just before his sixth birthday, Tao watches helplessly as Sheng is dragged away for writing a letter criticizing the Communist Party and sent to a labor camp for “reeducation.”
A year later, still missing his father desperately, Tao climbs to the top of the hundred-year-old kapok tree in front of their home, wanting to see the mountain peaks in the distance. But Tao slips and tumbles thirty feet to the courtyard below, badly breaking his leg.
As Kai Ying struggles to hold her small family together in the face of this shattering reminder of her husband’s absence, other members of the household must face their own guilty secrets and strive to find peace in a world where the old sense of order is falling. Once again, Tsukiyama brings us a powerfully moving story of ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances with grace and courage.
I received the audio book version of this novel. As with any audio book, make sure you get the unabridged version. You don’t want to miss out on anything.
Simon Vance did a superb job of bringing the story to life. When he was doing conversations between the characters, it was definitely easy to distinguish which character was which by his voice.
The story itself transports you to another place and another time. It truly brought China in the late 1950s to life.
I was truly horrified as poor Tao’s father was being dragged away from his house for voicing his opinions. We really take it for granted our freedom of speech. This story may be fictional, but some of the situations truly did happen in China during that time.
In conjunction with the Wakela’s World Disclosure Statement, I received a product in order to enable my review. No other compensation has been received. My statements are an honest account of my experience with the brand. The opinions stated here are mine alone.