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Review: Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu

Title: Peach Blossom Spring

Author: Melissa Fu
Year published: 2022
Category: Adult fiction (historical)
Pages: 383 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location: (my 2023 Google Reading map)China, Taiwan, USA (NM, TX, NY)

SummaryA country at war. A family searching for home.

China, 1938. Meilin and her four-year-old son, Renshu, flee their burning city as Japanese forces advance. On the perilous journey that follows, across a China transformed by war, they find comfort and wisdom in their most treasured possession, a beautifully illustrated hand scroll filled with ancient fables.

Years later, Renshu has settled in America as Henry Dao. Though his daughter, Lily, is desperate to understand her heritage, he refuses to talk about his childhood in China. How can he tell his story when he's left so much behind?

Review: I seem to be on a role with historical fiction set in Asia and this one was so good. I have had it on my shelf for a while and am so glad that I finally got around to reading it.

If you enjoy multigenerational sagas/epics, this one is for you. The characters are so good: I wanted them to succeed (whatever that meant), reunite, and survive. The history is interesting (China v Japan war in the 1930s, WWII, the Chinese civil war, and the separation with Taiwan) and I particularly liked how it shaped the family's history. Since the story goes all the way to the 1990s in the US, the reader also gets to see how the Chinese American community dealt with keeping an eye on one another (who is pro China? Who is pro Taiwan?). 

Personal history also takes center stage as the newer generation wants to know and understand who they are (what does it mean to be mixed race, where do I come from) and can't understand why the older generation doesn't want to speak their birth language or relive the trauma that they've lived through. But mostly this story is beautifully written and is about family and self acceptance. I also love that it is loosely based on the author's own family.

Challenges for which this counts: 
  • Literary Escapes--Taiwan
  • Popsugar--Holiday that isn't Christmas (Chinese New Year is celebrated many times)

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