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Songs of Willow Frost

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3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  14,878 Ratings  ·  2,409 Reviews
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 o ...more
Hardcover, 331 pages
Published September 10th 2013 by Ballantine Books
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Fiona Leonard
Nov 08, 2013 Fiona Leonard rated it really liked it
Books are made to be read from front to back, I get that, but can I just ask you to do me a favour? When you buy Songs of Willow Frost - and buy it you should - turn to the Author's Note. Read this first, then, and only then, should you return to the first page.

I make this demand because Songs of Willow Frost deserves to be read in context. Set in Depression era Seattle, this is the story of a young boy, William, who has spent the last five years living in an orphanage and longs to find his moth
...more
Robert
Jul 01, 2013 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Worthless, spineless, gutless, emotionless, insignificant, cowardly evil bastards filled this novel to the point that my world overflowed with a god-awful stench that smelled worse than elephant dung and monkey poo and singed every last nose hair. This tale burst forth with enough villains to occupy an entire wing of the county jail and had a few folks that might need to sit in the electric chair. Spitting fire and spewing smoke, I finished SONGS OF WILLOW FROST while cursing social workers with ...more
☮Karen
Jun 02, 2013 ☮Karen rated it liked it
I just loved Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Now I won an ARC of Songs of Willow Frost, but did not find it as engaging as the first. Let me first say that there is a good book lying beneath the surface here. However, the writing felt inconsistent to me, alternating from seemingly effortless and tidy, to some very choppy, awkward sentences and flow. The author seemed to struggle with the ability to convey the characters’ feelings. Instead he often spelled them out in too many words, whi ...more
Dianne
Sep 04, 2013 Dianne rated it it was ok
Disappointing, soap opera-y tale of an orphaned 12 year old boy, William Eng, trying to reunite with the mother who abandoned him at the Sacred Heart Orphanage in 1934 Seattle. The characters are one-dimensional and cartoonish - the bad people are so very, very BAD and the good people are long-suffering, heroic and wise beyond their years (William and his friend Charlotte talk and act like mature adults). As I forced myself to finish the book, I got the distinct feeling the author had a checklis ...more
Camie
Aug 02, 2013 Camie rated it really liked it
Set in the depression era in Seattle this is a heartbreaking tale of a 12 year old Chinese boy William ,who lives in the Sacred Heart Academy orphanage ,wondering why he is there, and his mother who is desperately trying to escape her past and the reasons she is not able to raise her son. Throughout this book I was a little disappointed with the way William's mother Liu Song seemed to accept the horrible things that happened to her, but I kept remembering that these were different times for wome ...more
Jenni
Jul 01, 2013 Jenni rated it really liked it
One of the best aspects of being a book reviewer is the exposure to authors with whom I was not previously familiar. Instead of choosing books to read through my normal method - perusing the shelves at Barnes and Noble and admittedly judging by the covers – I’m voluntarily reading pretty much every book that comes my way via publishers seeking feedback.

This weekend I started and finished Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford. It’s set in the early 20th century against the backdrop of the great de
...more
Marcy
Aug 07, 2013 Marcy rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book by Jamie Ford, the author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. William is an orphan at Seattle's Sacred Heart Orphanage. He is the only Chinese child at the orphanage. No one would adopt a Chinese child. He continued to wonder why he was abandoned and left to stay in an orphanage where the porridge was gruel and the nuns strict and uncaring. William's friend was a girl named Charlotte. She was blind, and she truly cared for William, and he for her.

On a once a year outin
...more
Diane S ☔
Mar 28, 2013 Diane S ☔ rated it liked it
I think I expected more from this novelist. Which probably is not fair, because this was a good book in its own way. I just never quite connected with the characters as much as I wished, felt almost a remove from them.
The story was okay but at times seemed forced and the dialogue just didn't flow. The main bones of the story is fascinating. I did feel for all the little children abandoned to the nuns in the orphanage. Believe me, these nuns could have been a little more caring, knowing how thes
...more
Ladyslott
I loved Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, so I was looking forward to Jamie Ford’s new book. However I was disappointed in Songs of Willow Frost.

It’s 1934 and William Eng is living in Sacred Heart Orphanage in Seattle. He has been there since his mother died 5 years earlier. When William sees a movie starring Willow Frost he is convinced that the actress is his mother, so he sets out to find her.

While the premise of the story is good the execution is not. There are a number of stereotypi
...more
Kathryn
Jun 07, 2013 Kathryn rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaways, 2013
Sometimes volunteering at the library has added perks as it did this week when I was giving Jamie Ford's new book to read. This was a sad story taking place during very hard times in China town Seattle. Living in the Seattle area for most of my adult life I always learn so much from Jaime's books. Just when I thought this book had such a sorrowful ending I found there was one more chapter that brought things to a much better place.

I also thought the Author's Note where Jamie said the following
...more
Jamise
Jamie Ford is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. He delivers a compelling story surrounding family, love, loss and reconciliation. The author has a way of writing that pulls the reader into the story and you feel that you are transported to the era which he is describing. His attention to detail and character development makes you feel each and every word.

I enjoyed all of the characters, even the not so likable ones.
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
William lost his mother but not to death. He knew in his heart that she was still alive and he would find her some day, but he had to escape from the orphanage to do that. He knew that there was a reason she abandoned him because his mother wouldn't have left him without a good reason.

William knew nothing of his mother's past but it didn't matter. He had to find her. He and his friend Charlotte planned how to escape from the orphanage to find her. William was a kind, sweet boy just like his moth
...more
Kathy
At first, I was tempted to compare Songs of Willow Frost with the much-loved Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, but, fortunately, I only held onto that temptation briefly. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet dealt with favorite subject matter for me, the tragic Japanese internment during WWII, and then introduced me to the Chinese element of that turbulent time in Seattle history. But, Songs of Willow Frost should be judged on its on merits, as it is a different story, although in the ...more
Jenny C.
Oct 21, 2013 Jenny C. rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Connie
Aug 01, 2013 Connie rated it really liked it
Set in Seattle in the 1920s and 1930s, this is a story about the love between a mother and her son during desperate times. When the boys at Sacred Heart Orphanage celebrate their communal birthday, they are treated to an afternoon at the movies. Chinese-American William Eng recognizes the actress on the screen as his mother who abandoned him five years earlier. He decides to sneak out of the orphanage with a friend to search for his mother, Willow Frost. Eventually, Willow tells him her story, a ...more
Pamela
Utterly and totally, depressing! Oh, such dismal melodrama madness! A far cry from the praiseworthy excellence of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. And certainly not the best book to have read right before Mother's Day.

Egad!!!

Except for young Will, and his blossoming friendship with Charlotte, there wasn't much joy to be found; and even that glimmer of brightness was dashed horridly to pieces mid-book. What on earth???? I'm still mad about that!

Not a single member of book club had much
...more
Stephanie
Dec 31, 2014 Stephanie rated it liked it
Story of a young boy, William Eng, growing up in an orphanage after being abandoned by his young, unwed Chinese mother. The setting is pre- and post-Depression era Seattle.

I really liked the story but I found that I would have liked it more if it were told completely from William's perspective, or completely from his mother, Liu Song's, perspective. The atrocities committed against young women and children by well-meaning (judgmental and ignorant) people made me so angry at times. There are some
...more
Anne
Jul 14, 2013 Anne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle
Jamie Ford does it again. I adored Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet, Jamie Ford‘s first novel, with its tender love story holding its own against a vividly drawn background of war and racial tension. I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but this novel steps it up another gear – if I wept at the first book, this one really had me in pieces. Again, the background is vast, but the focus is on a small story in the middle of it all.

There are two linked story threads, separated by time. In 1931
...more
Paul Pessolano
Jul 23, 2013 Paul Pessolano rated it it was amazing
“Songs of Willow Frost” by Jamie Ford, published by Ballantine Books.

Category – Fiction Literature Publication Date – September 10, 2013

It is not often that a writer will have a successful first novel and follow it up with an even better one. Jamie Ford who had remarkable success with his first novel, “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” has put together a second novel that, in my opinion, will even be more successful. Ford has a remarkable talent in putting together stories that revolve ar
...more
Michelle (tinyturtle88)
Sep 09, 2013 Michelle (tinyturtle88) rated it really liked it
4.5

A touching tale set in the Seattle area in the 1920's/30's, of a young Chinese girl named Willow coming from meager beginnings. She is shown love through the act of sacrifice from her mother. You are helpless as you read her story of pain, loss, and humiliation. Through the midst of all of this she shows her own ultimate act of love/sacrifice, which brings us to meet William, her son who lives in an Orphanage desperately looking for his mother. Willow finally sheds her acceptance that the app
...more
Brooke
Aug 19, 2013 Brooke rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
Wow!! There have been a lot of books that are centered around orphanages, but none come close to this book in my opinion.

Jamie Ford has a wonderful talent for describing in vivid detail the depression era in Seattle and took a some what simple story about love and turned it into one of the most touching and beautifully written stories I have ever read.

I loved the classic feel of the theatre and the trueness of life behind the stage lights. This book is rare, haunting, and will move you to tear
...more
Lianne
Dec 20, 2013 Lianne rated it liked it
I have to agree with my friend, Barb, who just reviewed this. I'm sure authors hate when their new books are compared to their previous books, but it just can't be helped. "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" was such a powerful book. This book has an okay storyline but it had a hard time holding my interest. The story had good characters, but somehow I wanted more.
Vonia
Ford's two novels thus far are both engaging, creative, well-researched, unique time settings, layered yet relatable characters. So why are they not all-time-favorites for me? A little difficult for me to put into words, but something about his writing is still a little amateur. At least could use refining. He tells a little more than shows; is a little unnecessarily dramatic at times (i.e., "Willow prepared for the biggest performance of her life [saying goodbye to Colin]", "Charlotte's confess ...more
Kirstin
Sep 26, 2013 Kirstin rated it really liked it
www.justtoomanybooks.wordpress.com

Ford's first book, The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, was on my Top 10 list the year I read it. I did not like Willow Frost as much. Its a good book, and an enjoyable read- I just wasn't able to connect with it as much.

William is the only Chinese boy in a San Francisco orphanage in 1934. On their one outing a year, he sees a beautiful Chinese movie star on the big screen, and becomes convinced she is his long-lost mother. This is the story of William's
...more
Marissa
Mar 03, 2014 Marissa rated it did not like it
Shelves: i-quit
For the first time in a long LONG time, I quit a book. Even if I hate a book, I'll make it through to the end to give it a fair chance. But this one was giving me physical discomfort to continue reading. I agree with other reviews that it's like the author had a list of all the terrible clichés and events to put in this book- dirty orphanages, sad orphans, mean nuns, a little blind girl, rape, dead parents, sexism, racism, etc. We meet William Eng, a sad little orphan who only wants to know his ...more
Cynthia
Nov 22, 2013 Cynthia rated it liked it
"Song's of Willow Frost" is the story of a twelve year old orphaned Chinese American boy named William. Its set in the Chinatown of Seattle in the 20's and 30's and is alternately told from his mother's perspective and from William's. I defy you not to care about these characters. It's all but impossible not to. I know this sounds like a sad story and it is but there are gleams of hope and caring that illuminate it. William has a few close friends among the other orphans in the Catholic home tha ...more
Claire
Dec 30, 2013 Claire rated it did not like it
This is a very sad story of sad things happening to unlucky people. Just the sort of novel I do not usually like. I would not have picked this up ordinarily, but not one but two of my book clubs chose this so I gave it a go. And, book clubs are a great way to open your mind to new writers, you never know what you might find.

This is the story of a twelve-year old Chinese-American boy who grew up in an orphanage in Depression-era Seattle. He sets out to find his mother, who is a movie actress. He
...more
George
Feb 20, 2013 George rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club, nook-st
DARK AND DEPRESSING.

"The things that we do, that make us so black, and leave us feeling so blue."—page 314

Dark and depressing is not my favorite flavor of novel. And, yet, I couldn't put it down…

After reading his second novel, SONGS OF WILLOW FROST, I just want to say, "shame on you, Jamie Ford." Shame on you for treating such wonderful characters, in such a cinematic setting, so shabbily—and filling their lives with such desolation, desperation, and despair. These are the (fictitious) folks wh
...more
Jaime Boler
Jun 02, 2013 Jaime Boler rated it it was amazing
Shelves: september-2013
This book has everything. It’s steeped in rich history, placed during a time of great suffering yet also a period in which modern cinema was born. The characters leap off the page right into your heart. The well-paced plot means you will not be able to put Songs of Willow Frost down until you finish the book. A quest for identity, for forgiveness, for understanding, for reunion, Songs of Willow Frost proves you sometimes have to suffer to recognize and seize true happiness. I loved Songs of Will ...more
Linda
May 09, 2013 Linda rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Linda by: Booktopia Petoskey 2013
Shelves: own, arc, booktopia
This book had me from page 1. And make this the second Petoskey Booktopia book that I did not want to end. Ford returns to northwest for this story which takes place around the time of the depression. The protagonist is an American of Chinese descent trying to live an honorable life despite many blows life presents. Some of the history is incredibly painful to read.
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Jamie Ford’s debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, spent two years on the New York Times bestseller list and went on to win the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. Jamie’s work has been published in 34 languages. Also, because Jamie feels weird writing about himself in the 3rd person, he’s going to say…

Hi, this is me.

Not a publicist. Not some weird aggregated bit of
...more
More about Jamie Ford...

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