Review: Songs of Willow Frost, Jamie Ford

*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book on Netgalley from the publisher in return for an honest review*
Songs of Willow Frost Jamie Ford cover
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—or rather, the day the nuns designate as 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.
Determined to find Willow, and prove his mother is still alive, William escapes from Sacred Heart with his friend Charlotte. The pair navigates the streets of Seattle, where they must not only survive, but confront the mysteries of William’s past and his connection to the exotic film star. The story of Willow Frost, however, is far more complicated than the Hollywood fantasy William sees onscreen.

Jamie Ford is the great-grandson of Nevada mining pioneer Min Chung, who emigrated from Kaiping, China to San Francisco in 1865, where he adopted the Western name “Ford,”. Ford is an award-winning short story writer. Having grown up near Seattle's Chinatown, he now lives in Montana with his wife and children.

I loved Ford's first book Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet so when I saw he had a new one coming I added it to my list in one go.
Songs of Willow Frost focuses on the Chinese society in Seattle between 1921 and 1934. The book has a slow pace and is very atmospheric which was something I had to get used to while reading his first book but it is a style that slowly encapsulates a reader until the book cannot be put down anymore.
William is a smart young boy I guess. I did not always agree with his tone compared to his age so I guess he is smart. There are so many things happening to him in a short span of his life that you feel like you want to protect him. What I liked a lot about him was his feeling that he deserves the answers to his questions. Because he does and he needs them if he wants to understand so many things in his life. It made me glad he was not giving up.
The story of Willow is filled with sadness. Though I did not agree with all of her choices you do get a good picture why she made them and that it was possible the best thing she could do at that moment. That caged feeling that she was not left a choice jumps from the pages.
There is not much interaction between William and Willow but the situations where they are together are heartbreaking. I was disturbed though in one of their together parts that Willow started to repeat the things to William we just "heard" in the flashback chapters.
Though the influence of the Chinese culture on some of the decisions made is there it was a story that could have happened to anyone. With it's rich atmosphere and slow development I felt as if I was watching Willow and William going trough their lives from the corner of their street or peeking trough the windows.

Songs of Willow Frost
Author: Jamie Ford
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Pages: 304
Format: eGalley
ISBN-10: 0345522028
ISBN-13: 9780345522023
Ballantine Books: eBook | Hardcover | Audiobook
Songs of Willow Frost

4 star review

Next Post »

1 reacties:

Write reacties
09 September, 2013 delete

Glad you liked it! I have Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, been on my kindle for a while. I will read that one first, but this sounds like a nice read too. I think the premise sounds interesting - Chinese culture etc. I have been quite interested in reading about eastern cultures lately.