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Forget Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale

3.54  ·  Rating Details ·  499 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
Celebrated artist and writer Belle Yang makes a stunning debut as a graphic memoirist with this story of crisis and survival.

When Belle Yang was forced to take refuge in her parents’ home after an abusive boyfriend began stalking her, her father entertained her with stories of old China. The history she’d ignored while growing up became a source of comfort and inspiration,
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Hardcover, 256 pages
Published May 10th 2010 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Kristen Northrup
Aug 15, 2010 Kristen Northrup rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, own, comics
I wanted to enjoy this much more than I did. You never want to speak ill of tragedy-laden true stories, of course. And it's a part of 20th century history that has never received all that much attention in the West, thanks to the distraction of our own horrors.

But I did have difficulty with the art. I was really surprised to learn at the end that Yang is an established artist, so it was a style choice rather than simply a lack of experience. Things were just too tightly packed for me, and not e
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Vishy
Jul 24, 2011 Vishy rated it really liked it
I got ‘Forget Sorrow’ by Belle Yang, as a birthday present from one of my dear friends. My friend has introduced me to a lot of beautiful literature and so I couldn’t wait to read Belle Yang’s book. I read it in one sitting. Here is what I think.

What I think

‘Forget Sorrow’ is the memoir of the author Belle Yang and that of her father. Belle Yang starts the book with her own life – on how she was born in Taiwan to parents who had come from mainland China and how they had ended up in America. She
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Janice
Jul 08, 2011 Janice rated it liked it
This is an interesting graphic memoir in which Belle Yang tells not only a bit of her own story (she's turned to her parents for refuge from a dangerous stalker they've nicknamed "Rotten Egg") but also shares her father's family's history. Her father's ancestors settle in Manchuria and build a prosperous life there, but by the time her father and uncles are young men, their comfortable lives are in jeopardy -- first from the Japanese and then from the Communists. Some of the relatives Yang descr ...more
Sharon
Apr 24, 2012 Sharon added it
Belle Yang spent years of her life trying to stay safe from a violent ex-boyfriend. She lost friends, she spent a few years studying in China, and she returned home to live with her parents. Her parents protected her, but her father resented how Belle's life had turned out, and even blamed her for the abusive ex-boyfriend.

Forget Sorrow is the story of how Belle and her father grew close again through the stories he told of the generations of their family. The conflicts, the sacrifices, the mista
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cat
Jul 25, 2010 cat rated it really liked it
Unlike many of my friends, I am not a comic book reader. And then there was Allison Bechdel's amazing graphic novel Fun Home, and I discovered that I needed to reconsider my previous stance. And to be honest, I brought this lovely and poetic graphic novel home for my partner who loves comic books. But then I picked it up to browse through before returning to the library and suddenly I was halfway through Belle Yang's beautifully illustrated tale of escaping her abusive boyfriend (named Rotten Eg ...more
May-Ling
Feb 15, 2011 May-Ling rated it really liked it
i judged a book by its cover and that's how this one got my attention, but i actually think that's a great way to find graphic novels.

forget sorrow is reminiscent of persepolis, in that it chronicles political upheaval in china. instead of putting us directly in the moment, the plot comes from a girl writing about her extended family in china. she tells the story after listening to hours of stories from her father. it's a beautiful tribute to her family.

it's very old fashioned in terms of asian
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Kirk
Jul 17, 2010 Kirk rated it it was ok
I found the narration far too confusing, especially when Yang's rather cartoony drawing style doesn't do much to distinguish between characters. They're all about the same basic build, but maybe one's hat is different or he has a wave in his hair. Yeah...who is that again? And then periodically she'll interrupt somebody's narration with her own and I had a hard time keeping track which generation was currently speaking.

Suggestions: -family tree at the beginning of the book, complete with little
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Aneesa
Sep 21, 2011 Aneesa rated it liked it
Another fine addition to the somewhat-self-centered-young-adult-gets-some-perspective-by-listening-to-his/her-father's-tale-of-struggle-in-his-homeland-during-wartime-and-journey-to-America-then-writes-a-graphic-memoir-about-it genre.
Wendy T
Dec 04, 2010 Wendy T rated it it was ok
This book was okay, but I found the story didn't flow very well.
Amy
May 15, 2011 Amy rated it it was ok
The story in this book kind of reminded me of the Chinese father-daughter team on the Amazing Race Season 11. I don't like them and I did not like this book.
Edward Sullivan
Jul 10, 2010 Edward Sullivan rated it it was amazing
Excellent graphic memoir.
Arelis Uribe
Me compré este libro en un viaje a Estados Unidos. Me tincó porque nunca he leído a una ilustradora china y porque en la recomendación decía que es el "Maus de la revolución cultural". La verdad no sé si es para tanto. Y ésa es mi primera crítica. Goodreads también agrupa este libro junto a Persépolis o algunos de Bechdel. Y no sé si tiene esa calidad. Las ilustraciones funcionan, pero no están al nivel de vanguardia de Art Spiegelman, que se tira a la piscina nomás y explica el holocausto con r ...more
the Lost Bennet Sister
The title comes from the author's name: Xuan means "Forget Sorrow" in Chinese. This graphic memoir starts with Belle Yang's life and then continues with his father's family history. It includes the history of China, the turmoil brought first with wars and then Communism, father-son/daughter tensions, sibling rivalries, Chinese traditions and culture, Taoism and Buddhism. Of course, the family history is told by one person. How true and fair it is is questionable. At times I wondered about certai ...more
Lucile Barker
Dec 24, 2016 Lucile Barker rated it it was amazing
185. Forget Sorrow: an Ancestral Tale by Belle Yang
This graphic novel chronicles the history of the Yang family, from their earliest origins in China to the present generation living in America. I really enjoyed the drawings in this and the artist was able to engage me in the story as well. The four brothers and their father all look related, but the reader is able to differentiate between them because of the details in her drawing. There is the Japanese invasion and the Second World War. The co
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Birgitte Bach
Oct 29, 2016 Birgitte Bach rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Interessant, men meget rodet opsætning.
Jocelyn
Forget Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale is about Belle Yang, who spends a long amount of time listening to her father tell her stories about his family and their lives back in China during Japanese-occupied Manchuria up until Communism becomes widely spread around the country while Belle herself is struggling to escape an abusive ex-boyfriend and comes to terms with not ending up exactly how her parents and she expected.

While the style of art isn't exactly my favourite or as aesthetically pleasing to m
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Lizzie
I won this copy via LibraryThing's Early Reviewers. So it goes!

I liked this. The family story is nice, and the atmosphere is really strong. I liked seeing a lot of everyday-life stories about early 20th-century China, and these make the book very illuminating. RIYL Persepolis-es. The family relationships are cool, but this narrative is a tad bland at times, as nonfiction can be when it isn't exceptionally well-structured. It's hard to give a fantastic climax to real life. Don't we know it!

My fav
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Laura
Apr 25, 2010 Laura rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owns
I feel honored to have been given an advanced copy of Forget Sorrow, as it will surely be placed among the greats of the graphic memoir subgenre. Like Maus, Persepolis, Fun Home, and Epileptic, it uses sequential art as a perfect medium for presenting an autobiographical narrative. Bell Yang's background in calligraphy is evident in her elegant line art, evoking both Classic Chinese drawings and traditional cartooning.

The book is about the expectations and assumptions that parents have for their
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Sj
Apr 22, 2015 Sj rated it liked it
If I could give half stars, I would give this a 3.5. This is the first Graphic Memoir I have read about a Chinese Family. Being part Chinese, I was thankful for the opportunity to read this. I enjoyed the historical aspects of this book. It helps to understand the times by reading about real life experiences (or what one person's first, second, and sometimes even third account of memories are provided). What I didn't like about this book is that it was often confusing. There was so much going ba ...more
Stargirl
I'm sad to say I'm a little bit disappointed. Mostly because I rarely buy graphic novels and I took my time to go through the bookstore to chose this title that appealed the most to me and seemed to be very interesting and at the end, I got one book that felt messy and a little bit flat.

Which I find hard to say because this is a memoir, or at least the author's family story and it is without a doubt worthy to be told. Be it for the family story and the important historical times it talked about.
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Heidi
Apr 10, 2012 Heidi rated it liked it
Interesting graphic novel rendition of Chinese ancestral stories, told to a Chinese-American woman by her father. The book goes through the early settlement of villages outside the Great Wall, then skips to just before the Japanese invasion and World War II. The author's father managed to escape to Taiwan, then made his way to Japan to get an education before arriving in America. But the rest of his family was trapped in China, former landowners in a country that now hated capitalists.

The story
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Terry
Jul 06, 2010 Terry rated it it was ok
I was a wee bit disappointed in this book, as I was expecting a contemporary memoir (that is, a book about herself and her life). It's mainly a history of her family, focusing mainly on the 20th century, on her paternal grandparents and great-grandparents. For those who like Dr. Zhivago-like histories of the transition from early 20th-century to post-World War II/Communist society, you'll really like this book; or if you just enjoy Chinese history and culture in general (I'm thinking this would ...more
Andrea Mullarkey
Jul 23, 2012 Andrea Mullarkey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: graphic, memoir
This beautiful graphic novel reminded me so much of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis. It is part-memoir, part history and spans several generations in the lives of Yang’s father’s family. The family faces war, famine, and communist oppression in Manchuria. Interwoven are pieces from Yang’s own life, hiding from an abusive ex-boyfriend stalker and working toward reconciliation with her father in contemporary America. The stories of her family’s successes and failures as well as their shifting family ...more
Camilla
Mar 11, 2013 Camilla rated it liked it
Belle Yang came to Authors' Night at my boys' school this year. This book is the culmination of many, many years of work. She showed us how she drew the pictures, how she penciled in the dialogue, and how she finished the pages. Tons of work. My 10-year-old read this book before I did. Truth be told, it's his book.

But as we are seeing her speak at TEDx Monterey in a few weeks, I was determined to get through it. I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of graphic novels. But this one I did enjo
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Jeridel Banks
Aug 18, 2016 Jeridel Banks rated it really liked it
Shelves: comics
If you're looking for a crudely-drawn story teetering on the edge of Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood and Maus I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History but within the Chinese culture, Forget Sorrow is the book for you. The only reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 stars is I didn't like the fast pace in the beginning. Still, this memoir in graphic novel/comic form is worth the read.
Dedra
Apr 14, 2010 Dedra rated it it was ok
Good story but slips in the graphic narration that I found annoying. Good but not as good as Maus or Persepolis. Not the subtlety of Mail Order Bride--things were over-explained and -revealed instead of letting the panels, narration and accumulated details speak for themselves.
Hannia
Apr 18, 2012 Hannia rated it liked it
I really enjoyed the inter-weaving of the family history with her current history, however, at the beginning of the "historical" narration, it was difficult to determine who the narrator was and how they related to Yang. (Turns out, the 4 brothers are Belle's great uncles and grandfather.) I also noticed in at least one occasion that the speech bubble was pointed toward the wrong person (I actually re-read the pane to see if I was misreading, but I'm pretty certain it was just a little mistake). ...more
Thomas Andrikus
Jun 26, 2012 Thomas Andrikus rated it it was amazing
Though the author Belle Yang is has behaviours and personalities that is more typical of her citizenship (American) than her ancestry (Chinese), she has not failed to tell more-or-less a complete story on her family's backgrounds in this graphic novel Forget Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale. Her ability to both infuse the drawings with a Chinese soul, plus her storytelling that is not slanted in any way whatsoever, makes her deserve a round of applause.
Marissa
Oct 20, 2010 Marissa rated it really liked it
This graphic novel is a very well-written autobiography, which reminds me a lot of one of my favorite graphic novels, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and one of my favorite books in general, The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston. Like The Woman Warrior, it is about the main character coming to terms with her own life through the stories of her family's history. It's a really masterful, interesting narrative that is woven together very well and I'm excited to see what else she produces in the f ...more
AP
Feb 03, 2012 AP rated it really liked it
An epic graphic novel. This is a great graphic novel which starts from the story of one woman stalked by a violent ex-boyfriend, expands to her father's story, her clan's story, then China during the Japanese invasion, WWII, Civil War, Communism. Wow. There were touches of sly humor in the midst of a Shakesperean tragedy (King Lear). I liked this a lot and will buy a copy after borrowing it from the library. Gorgeous art. A few maps, a family tree would have helped clarify the narrative a lot. I ...more
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"My Chinese name is Xuan, or "Forget-All-Sorrow." It is also Chinese for "lily of a day," notes Belle Yang. "If life spans a mere day, why spend it in worry?" Indeed, the author-illustrator of HANNAH IS MY NAME recalls a seemingly worry-free childhood in Taiwan and Japan, where she "doodled and fiddled around with words and discovered they were her life."

Now an author and painter, Belle Yang has
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