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Songs of Willow Frost

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  19,802 ratings  ·  2,944 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, 319 pages
Published September 10th 2013 by Ballantine Books
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Average rating 3.66  · 
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 ·  19,802 ratings  ·  2,944 reviews

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Fiona Leonard
Nov 08, 2013 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
Jul 01, 2013 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
Jun 02, 2013 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
Sep 04, 2013 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
Diane S ☔
Mar 28, 2013 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
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
Joy D
Set in Seattle during the Great Depression, twelve-year-old William Eng has been living in an orphanage since age seven, when his mother, Liu Song, was discovered in the bathtub, listless and bleeding, and taken away. William believes she is still alive. When the children are treated to a movie, he sees a woman on the screen, Willow Frost, who resembles her.

The book contains two storylines – William’s and Willow’s (via flashbacks). Both are extremely sad, reflecting the difficult lives led by m
Amanda Bannister
Nov 14, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5🌟 A heart tugging and tear jerking read.
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
Aug 07, 2013 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
Aug 02, 2013 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
Jennifer Stephens
Jul 01, 2013 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
Mar 03, 2014 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
Connie G
Aug 01, 2013 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
It is 1934 and the people of Seattle are suffering through the Great Depression. Twelve year old William lives in the Sacred Heart Orphanage with an assortment of other children who have been placed there for a variety of reasons. William has lost his mother, but not to death. He knows she is still alive and he will find her some day because she wouldn't have left him without a good reason. After seeing a movie featuring an actress named Willow Frost, he recognizes her as his mother. Setting out ...more
Jun 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 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
Sep 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kuyh-botm, favorites
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.
Yolanda Smith
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, but Songs of Willow Frost has made me a die-hard fan of Jamie Ford. The story screams of injustice and gross misunderstanding, but it sings of the beauty of culture and depth of relationships. Ford writes in a captivating style that drew me in and made me feel like I was truly glimpsing the lives of William and Willow and forget I was a mere reader of their story.
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
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
Jul 14, 2013 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
Oct 21, 2013 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paul Pessolano
Jul 23, 2013 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
Dec 30, 2013 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
Book Mitch
Sep 09, 2013 rated it really liked it

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
Dec 31, 2014 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
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
I had high hopes for this book which was set in 1920s an 30s Seattle and dealt with the plight of Chinese Americans at that time and place, especially women. The storyline involves a young boy, William Eng, who had been abandoned to an orphanage but has memories of his mother. On a rare trip to the outside world, he is shocked to recognize her on stage as the beautiful star, Willow Frost, and sets out to reunite with her. The rest of the story is Willow's.

In spite of a promising start and some
Aug 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 20, 2013 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. ...more
Side note: Please read the Author's note at the back of the book to understand the story.

The story of William, an orphan who goes in search of the woman he believes to be his mother, iconic Chinese-American starlet Willow Frost, and a woman known as Liu Song who faced poverty and hardship.
This alternating timelines and multiple perspective story carries between the 1920's and Great Depression.
The story of hope, promise, forgiveness, sacrifice, suffering, family, escapism and belonging all com
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Play Book Tag: [Poll Ballot] Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford - 3 stars 1 8 Sep 19, 2020 10:09AM  
Play Book Tag: Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford 3 stars 8 25 Sep 18, 2016 12:50PM  
general 11 87 Jan 07, 2015 05:43PM  
Goodreads Authors...: Songs of Willow Frost 1 10 Nov 08, 2014 09:17AM  
Casual Readers: Songs of Willow Frost 2 26 Jan 01, 2014 10:04AM  

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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

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