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Review: The Language of Threads by Gail Tsukiyama

Title: The Language of Threads
Author: Gail Tsukiyama
Year Published: 1999

Genre: Adult Fiction
Pages: 276
Rating: 5 out of 5

Location (my 2014 Google Reading map): Hong Kong

FTC Disclosure: I received this book as a gift

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Readers of Women of the Silk never forgot the moving story of Pei, brought to work in the silk house as a young girl. Now we learn what happened to Pei as she arrives in 1930s Hong Kong with a young orphan, Ji Shen, in her care. Soon Pei and Ji Shen find a new life in the home of Mrs. Finch, a British expatriate. But war, and the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, tear everything apart, and Pei is once again forced to make her own way, struggling to survive and to keep her extended family alive.

Review: I love all of Gail Tsukiyama's books that I've read! Women of the Silk, the book that comes before The Language of Threads, was a wonderful book, and Tsukiyama's The Samurai's Garden is one of my all-time favorites.

What is so wonderful about Tsukiyama's books?

Setting--as an American reader I love delving into books about other countries since I feel like I learn about the language, history, customs, food, and people in an interesting way. Tsukiyama sets her books beautifully. She doesn't over do the descriptive sections (which turns me off) and instead allows the experiences of the characters to reveal the setting. Hong Kong in the 1930s and '40s was such an interesting time and I feel like I got to know the pace of life, the struggles for immigrants, whether Chinese or European, and the changes that took place as the Japanese took over during World War II.
Plot--Continuing the story of Pei as she leaves the insular life with her sisters working the silk is genius. I care about Pei and Ji Shen as well as the people who come into their lives. They face such hardship, but manage to take it in stride, remaining calm, centered and determined to persevere. The characters face such difficult situations due to the times and their social class but I still felt like there was always hope.

Characters--I love Tsukiyama's characters! Pei comes from nothing: a small village in rural China to the bustling city of Hong Kong and we are on that journey with her as she faces difficult times, good times, her loved ones dying and making new friends.

Writing--The only way I can think to describe Tsukiyama's writing is gentle. I feel calm when I read her books even when the lives of her characters are troubled.

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