Saturday, March 8, 2014

Book Review of Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford

Name of Book: Songs of Willow Frost

Author: Jamie Ford

ISBN: 978-0-345-52202-3

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Type of book: 1920s, 1930s, glamor, orphan, Chinatown Seattle Washington, Great Depression, movies, coming back, mystery, single mother, crush

Year it was published: 2013

Summary:

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.

Shifting between the Great Depression and the 1920s, Songs of Willow Frost takes readers on an emotional journey of discovery. Jamie Ford’s sweeping book will resonate with anyone who has ever longed for the comforts of family and a place to call home.

Characters:

The main characters included William and Willow Frost as well as William's mother named Liu Song. William is resigned to his life, although he often wishes it was different as well as determined to find out the truth about himself and his origins. He is very likable and sympathetic. He also tries his best to look out for his blind friend Charlotte. Willow Frost is a very successful actress from Chinatown in Seattle Washington who stars in tragic movies and is good at singing and acting. William suspects that Willow might be his mother. William's mother Liu Song comes from a family of performers which is taboo in Chinese culture. She is a good singer, an actor and has a very tragic life. Some secondary characters include Charlotte who is William's friend and blind. I suspect that she has a crush on William. (I loved the scenes between them!) There is also of course Liu Song's first love who was apprenticed to her parents and is a good man, as well as Liu Song's stepfather who is an evil man.

Theme:

Everything comes with a cost

Plot:

The book is written in third person narrative from William's and Willow's point of views. The reader is warned through chapters when a change is approaching. William's story takes place in 1934, while Willow's takes place in 1920s. For those that are looking for a strong heroine, then look no further than Willow Frost and what she endured as well as survived to achieve her dreams. I really admire that the author creates such a tragic and strong heroine. Something else I love is the hardcover of the book which really fits in with the story and the mood. The author is very detailed and from what I can tell, accurate when it came to little known factoids of the 1930s and 1920s as well as establishing the mood and scenery. The factoids weren't distracting at all because the book is focused more on the mood and characters.

Author Information:
(from goodreads.com)
born
in The United States 
gender
male

website

genre

member since
September 2008


My name is James. Yes, I'm a dude.

I’m also the New York Times bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet—which was, in no particular order, an IndieBound NEXT List Selection, a Borders Original Voices Selection, a Barnes & Noble Book Club Selection, Pennie’s Pick at Costco, a Target Bookmarked Club Pick, and a National Bestseller. It was also named the #1 Book Club Pick for Fall 2009/Winter 2010 by the American Booksellers Association.

In addition, Hotel has been translated into 34 languages. I’m still holding out for Klingon (that’s when you know you’ve made it).

I’m an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and a survivor of Orson Scott Card's Literary Bootcamp.

My next novel, SONGS OF WILLOW FROST, should be hitting shelves September 10, 2013! And I'm also working on a YA (Young Adult) series that even my agent doesn't know about...yet

Opinion:

I have fallen in love with the book, and if there was a harem of books, this would fit right in with The Color of Light and a few other 5 stars novels that I read and loved. This is really something I've never read before in my life and I have never identified so strongly with the character as I have in here. I first saw the book as part of TLC book tours, and was too late to sign up and review it. For some odd reason, the more I read about it, the more I wanted it. Finally I won it, and just like with another book I won in 2012, I waited a month if not more to get it (December 17th, 2013). After bugging and telling my friend Jennifer about the book, as well as my mom, both of them encouraged me to start reading it first instead of putting it off, which I did. What can I say? Breath-taking, amazing, a beautiful story where even if the heroine sounds a bit unbelievable, I believe, I still loved her and identified very strongly with her. For me its rare if I identify with a heroine due to my own unique background. (I am Jewish from Russia living in America; my family are very secular, I don't fit in with Jews living here nor there and I don't fit in with Russians or Americans for that matter.) I also loved William and Charlotte, the story and everything else. You will need a lot of tissues while reading it because its very heartbreaking. Heck, I probably will re-read it again soon enough. One thing I'd like to know is the update on the ending please.

I would like to thank the blog titled books a la Mode for choosing me as a winner.

5 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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