Karen's Reviews > Letters in the Jade Dragon Box

Letters in the Jade Dragon Box by Gale Sears
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Nov 24, 14

bookshelves: asian, historical-fiction, latter-day-saint
Read from August 17 to 18, 2012

Sears has written other historical fiction that depicts early converts in foreign countries. Here she represents a new member in China, a refugee from Mainland who fled during Mao's rule. This character is based on an actual person, although his name is changed and his niece is fabricated. It is from this young woman's point of view that this story is told.

Wen-shan was separated from her parents who work working in rural China under the Communist realm of Mao. She is a young school girl with no history, and the readers are given an introduction to the horrors of communism as Wen-Shan receives a box filled with letters and scrolls hidden by a couple of family members. These items are then smuggled into Hong Kong and delivered to Wen-shan and her uncle. Through the course of the novel, she learns about her parents' and grandparents' personal histories, her country's history, and her uncle's history as an early Mormon convert. We see her react to this news to a degree, but much of the novel is a presentation of these histories to her as a wide-eyed auditor. Readers of this book sit alongside Wen-shan as these stories unfold.

The novel at times embraces lyric elements, but at times it falls into plain language and direct recitation of facts. From reading several reviews here, I applaud the author for creating a bridge from LDS fiction into the history and culture of China for readers who may not have otherwise traveled so far East.
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