review by Maryom
William Eng is the only Chinese boy at Seattle's Sacred Heart Orphanage. For the last five years he's lived there, not particularly happily but accepting that there are worse places he could be, believing all the while that his mother, Liu Song, is dead. Then on a rare trip into the city, he sees a Chinese singer, Weepin' Willow Frost, on a movie newsreel and is convinced she is actually his mother. When he learns that Willow Frost will be appearing live in Seattle, he determines to meet her at all costs. Could this beautiful singer really be his mother? If so, why has he been told she was dead?
Songs of Willow Frost is a story of the unbreakable bond between mother and son, and of the desperate course of action she is forced to take to protect her child. Set in the Chinatown area of Seattle against the harsh economic backdrop of 1920s and 30s America, it was a grimmer story than I'd been expecting. It alternates between William's unfolding story in the 1930s and that of Liu Song in the previous decade - both filled with tragedy which is only offset by William's determined optimism. Although I imagine that many readers will find this a real tear-jerker, I felt at times that the writing style distanced me from the full emotional impact of events.
Maryom's review - 4 stars
Publisher - Allison & Busby
Genre - adult, historical fiction
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