Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Such an interesting topic, and one that most readers won't be familiar with: the Chinese in the Pacific Northwest in the 1920s and 30s. For me the problem was that there are too many threads here and this would have been stronger had we focused on one, not all three.
First thread: William Eng is an orphan, living in an orphanage with many other children, some of whom are not true orphans but were abandoned by mothers unable to feed them or care for them during the Depression. One day, in the movies, he sees the woman he knows is his mother and is determined to find her. Second thread: Willow Frost's story as a Chinese movie star and the pre-story of her life as a singer promoting a music store and relationship with "Uncle Leo", the things that led her to abandon her son. Third thread: blind Charlotte, living in the same orphanage as William, the challenges she faces daily and how she became an orphan. Of course all three threads intertwine, especially when William and Charlotte escape the orphanage to find Willow, on tour in Seattle.
The writing is strong, but at times William's voice was not that of a 12-year-old, it seemed much older. None of the stories surprised me, not because I was familiar with the experiences of the Chinese at that time but because they seemed a but stereotypical and almost from casting central in terms of events.
ARC provided by publisher.