Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Thread of Sky: A Novel” as Want to Read:
A Thread of Sky: A Novel
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

A Thread of Sky: A Novel

by
3.29 of 5 stars 3.29  ·  rating details  ·  358 ratings  ·  100 reviews
"One of those rare novels that delivers on the promise of its opening pages. This summer, no smart woman should leave on vacation without it." -ChicagoTribune.com

When her husband of thirty years is killed, Irene Shen and her three daughters are set adrift. In a desperate attempt to heal her fractured family, Irene plans a tour of mainland China, reuniting three generati
...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published March 29th 2011 by Penguin Books (first published April 1st 2010)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Thread of Sky, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Thread of Sky

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 966)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Annalisa
I love books about China, particularly about how Chinese culture impacts women. In this tale, three Chinese-American sisters, their mother, aunt, and grandmother travel to China for one last chance to bond the way a family should but they never have. Each chapter is told through the point of view of a different woman, all in third person, which at times was hard to follow, but for the most part I liked getting the different perspectives and what they thought of each other.

Strangely enough, I di
...more
☮Karen
It is to present-day China that Chinese/American Irene decides to take her 3 daughters, her Chinese mother, and Chinese sister to visit. The chapters alternately focus on each of the 6 females with their individual problematic lives, so the characters are very well developed. The only one I really had any empathy for was the 80 year old grandmother, who lived through all the wars of her young adulthood as a revolutionary feminist, until finally leaving China and her philandering husband 20 years ...more
Manuhuia Barcham
I can't say enough good things about this book!!!

Deanna Fei has done to me what Hume did to Kant - awakened from my dogmatic slumber I feel invigorated once again to read and write...

It's just a great story! Some of the sentences and phrases are just gold... The type of thing where you stop to re-read sentences because of the way they glide off the tongue. It's rare that happens when I read nowadays so its such a joy when it does occur.

The development of the story is delightful - and one has
...more
Mari
A compelling read about three sisters first generation American sisters who travel back to their parents' native China with their mom, aunt and grandmother, a former nationalist revolutionary forced to flee the Communists to Taiwan.
The author does a great job of conveying the mixed emotions of the sisters as they spend more time with their older relatives, than at any previous point in their adult lives. Their mother sacrificed her career in favor of stay at home motherhood, and the trip is sor
...more
Sherry
I really wanted to like this book since it was gift from the author, who by the way has an incredible story of her own. At first I was intrigued by the characters but then I guess I got bored since I'm used to reading books with romance and fast-paced action. But, then I caught on on how the lives of these women were intertwined and new secret were being unraveled, and read nearly half the book in one day because I really wanted to know if they'd all have their happy ending. Ultimately this book ...more
Beth

Mothers/Daughters and the Sights & Sounds of China
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Deanna Fei's book, "A Thread of the Sky". This novel weaves a marvelous tapestry - both with the relationships of grandmother, sisters, and daughters and the history and perceptions of life that each brings to their two-week vacation trip to China.
I found the characters to be very realistic in their relationships with each other and in their reactions to what they were seeing. Fei does a marvelous job describing
...more
BooksAndTea
The Joy Luck Club lite I came across this book in an usual fashion. Deanna Fei was inadvertently involved with a blowup earlier in 2014 where an executive of AOL slammed the insurance costs of two babies. Fei wrote an article in response to these comments, outlining her second pregnancy, the normal manner in which it proceeded and and the gratitude she felt for the medical help and the insurance to pay for the costs. It was an exceptionally compelling piece (her child turned out to be okay) and ...more
Yiye
This book was recommended by a speaker I met at a conference. She recommended this book after I told my story of coming to the United state from China as an international student. She thinks I might be able to relate to the story. And she was certain right!

Irene, a mom of 3 grown up daughters, is newly widowed after her husband was killed in a car accident. She decided to invite all ladies in the family - her daughters, her 80 year old mom and her sister - to a two weeks vacation to mainland Chi
...more
MMC
This was a well-written book. Vivid descriptions that didn't over do it. I also liked how all of the characters had secrets that emerged one by one through their journey to China. I will say that starting with the grandmother down, these people all have serious issues. A combination of a need to be perfect and an unwillingness to demonstrate vulnerabilities--they should go on a spiritual retreat in Bali next! That all said, I can see why many people gave this novel 4 stars. I knocked off a star ...more
Janis
This is a wonderful, touching and powerful book. The characters are wonderfully flawed, passionate, beautiful and human. I identified so deeply with the immigrant experience of the mothers and daughters. Fei is a skilled writer who is by turns lyrical, funny, sexy, and always smart and affirming of her readers. The story spans nations and continents but has a great deal of emotional intimacy. The themes of love, loss, family, politics are well drawn. I am looking forward to her next novel!
Mario
Deanna Fei's A Thread of Sky is a beautifully written story with well-crafted characterizations, and it is emotionally driven-it was never a dull moment. This book has some interesting insights on being Asian-American, esp. being a woman, in America and China. The only small complaint is the ending, I would had liked to see an aftermath or one year later conclusion to all of the characters.Nevertheless, an excellent addition to anyone's library.
Esther Bradley-detally
Lovely, lovely writing; References Alzheimer's as "brain plaques and fibrillary tangles," "strands caught in knots." Her style is wonderfully literary, yet compelling about sisters, mother, and grandmother's return to China for a trip; and relationships and lives so differently lived. Philosophical observations keenly observed, choices of women, foward pull and backward pull, one's place within the generations and the society. Wonderful read.
Julie Babcock
I liked the idea of three generations of women taking a trip together. The ladies in my family have been doing this for as long as I can remember. The author really developed each character as the story went on, but did every women in this family have to have a problem? Couldn't any of them just have a normal life? It felt like the author was trying to cram every type of problem (cheating husbands, civil unrest, war, cultural discrimination, unwanted pregnancies, eating disorders) a women could ...more
Nancy Walsh
I read this book while travelling in China ( between Beijing and Shanghai) on a very intensive tour for travel agents. A six hour train ride in a dark compartment with a very small light, travelling into the mountains north of Beijing certainly brought this novel to life. History we were never taught in school certainly changed the view from the window. It was certainly worth the read but I am unable to give it more the a 3star rating because of the way I read it. Five minutes at a time. I will ...more
T
For those of you that like the multi-generational cultural stories, this one's for you....

Irene is a recent widow, whose husband leaves to take a temporary teaching position at an out-of-state college, but is he leaving her as well? She gave up a promising career as a research scientist to raise her family.

Irene's older sister Susan is a poet, who married an older man, but who as a younger professor had a younger Hispanic lover.

Irene and Susan's mother was a noted revolutionary figure who fled C
...more
Nancy
Apr 25, 2010 Nancy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in Chinese culture
Thank you Goodreads for this First Reads win!

This is a book about a group of diverse Chinese women who share a common heritage but are emotionally and physically apart. The recently widowed mother conceives of the idea of taking a trip to China with her three estranged daughters, sister and mother, hoping the trip will help them reconnect. All of them operate on a web of misunderstandings that are brought to light by their close quarters while traveling together and incidents that happen along t
...more
Athira (Reading on a Rainy Day)
A Thread of Sky is the story of six women - Irene Shen, whose husband of thirty years is killed in an accident four hours after he left her to pursue an opportunity in Maine and she said "Good riddance" in response to him leaving; her three daughters, Nora, who's struggling with commitment issues with a fiancé who cheated on her, Kay, who was tired of the question "Where are you from?" and decided to find out by going to China, and the teenager Sophie, suffering from bulimia and self-image issue ...more
Lisa
I like the author's treatment of identity and Chinese-American identities in this book. I feel like I've read books that relied on easy Asian stereotypes to carry through the ethnic elements, to make them understandable or palatable to the reader...first/second gen'ers going back to the mother country, bumbling around in an unfamiliar language, being seen as the other. Or there is the character who is fluent in the language and manages to fit in pretty completely. But for me, this novel approach ...more
Julie
’m finding it hard to sum up this book, because it has so many layers, most of which I enjoyed until the end, it’s hard to figure out where to begin. This book is an excellent example of women’s fiction at it’s finest. The books characters are six women, all who are stubborn, complex women, who are trying to (or have tried to in the past) make a difference in the world around them. The book is a very character driven book, it spends most of the time building up information of the women’s lives, ...more
Marie
In A Thread of Sky, Irene plans a trip to China. It’s supposed to be a family reunion of sorts as well as a celebration of Lin Yulan’s (Irene’s mother) 80th birthday. She has to convince her daughters (two nearby and one already in China), her sister and her mother to take the trip. Since Irene’s husband was tragically killed, the family has drifted apart; Irene hopes this trip will change that. Once in China, the family visits various tourist attractions while trying to connect with one another ...more
Meg
Deanna Fei’s A Thread Of Sky is a lyrical look at life for one complicated family — one of my favorite types of stories. In Fei’s novel are issues as diverse as racism and family dynamics, infidelity and bulimia. Pregnancy. Marriage. Choosing a career over raising children. Being a woman in a man’s world.

Learning to let those who love you . . . love you.

Though I found it difficult to connect with Irene’s younger daughters, Kay and Sophie, I was consistently interested in Nora and her struggles a
...more
Meg
Deanna Fei’s A Thread Of Sky is a lyrical look at life for one complicated family — one of my favorite types of stories. In Fei’s novel are issues as diverse as racism and family dynamics, infidelity and bulimia. Pregnancy. Marriage. Choosing a career over raising children. Being a woman in a man’s world.

Learning to let those who love you . . . love you.

Though I found it difficult to connect with Irene’s younger daughters, Kay and Sophie, I was consistently interested in Nora and her struggles a
...more
Bert Edens
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Louise
Story Description:

Penguin Press|E-Reader Edition|KOBO|ISBN: 978-1-101-19767-7

Looking to reconnect with their ancestral home and with one another, three generations of women tour mainland China on a journey that will change their family forever.

A stunning debut, A Thread of Sky is the story of a family of women and the powerful thread that binds their lives. In following the paths chosen by six fiercely independent women, A Thread of Sky explores the terrain we must travel to recognize the streng
...more
Liz
Jul 17, 2010 Liz rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: china buffs
Recommended to Liz by: goodreads
This book was just okay for me, I really expected something more. Maybe a little more bonding. Definitely would have learned more about Ma as a revolutionary in China and losing her only son and adopting another as her actual son.

This book is about Irene, a widowed,mother of 3 daughters, who plans a reuniting trip to China that includes her daughters, her sister Susan, and her mother. The group of all different personalities and their own separate problems in their lives come together to site se
...more
Maggie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Abby
A Thread of Sky focuses on a trip to China taken by three generations of Chinese-American women. In an interview, the author had said that she harbors mixed feelings about Amy Tan and did not want her book to be merely a re-tread of that experience. Unfortunately, this book only expands upon the stereotypes of Asian American families presented in Tan's books (as inscrutable, sexual, and full of secrets) while adding additional doses of soap-opera drama and lectures from Asian American history an ...more
K
A family of 6 Chinese-American women from 3 generations reconnect during a two week tour of China's "must-sees." Narrative perspective shifts from character to character with each chapter, with some characters much less fleshed out than others. Strange that these women should be estranged, since their respective chapters revealed that they're so alike--intelligent, selfish, closed-off, ambitious, proud, surprisingly lacking in self-awareness. Yet despite their considerable flaws, I found myself ...more
Leah (packfan20)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Meghan
This book, an Amy Tan imitator, is the story of three generations of women who take a vacation in China. For the three daughters, the trip might be a way to discover their roots, and maybe make sense of who they are as Asian-American women. For the mother and sister, it is a chance to make peace with an unpleasant childhood. For the grandmother, the significance of the trip is not clear until the end of the book. But, in each case, the trip often just confuses the issues and we see each characte ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 32 33 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Repeat It Today with Tears
  • Dance Lessons
  • Under Fishbone Clouds
  • Based Upon Availability
  • Quarantine: Stories
  • Short Girls
  • What the Zhang Boys Know
  • Country of Origin
  • The Printmaker's Daughter
  • Coppola: A Pediatric Surgeon in Iraq
  • Read, Remember, Recommend (A Reading Journal for Book Lovers)
  • Finny
  • Douglass' Women
  • The Four Ms. Bradwells
  • Glorious
  • The Singer's Gun
  • Disappearing Moon Cafe: A Novel
  • Kalimantaan
2998586
DEANNA FEI is the author of A THREAD OF SKY: A Novel (Penguin Press, April 2010). She was born in Flushing, New York, and has lived in Beijing and Shanghai, China. A graduate of Amherst College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she has received a Fulbright Grant, a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship, and a Chinese Cultural Scholarship, among other awards. She currently lives in Brooklyn, Ne ...more
More about Deanna Fei...
Girl in Glass: How My "Distressed Baby" Defied the Odds, Shamed a CEO, and Taught Me the Essence of Love, Heartbreak, and Miracles

Share This Book

“A love gone bad, a sea of bitterness: such an everyday thing. As ordinary as the tide, and perhaps as relentless. But tides turned, too.” 2 likes
“And a blank page was quite beautiful on its own, she'd found. There were already so many words, so many voices in the world. She flinched at contributing to the cacophony.” 1 likes
More quotes…