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Two Trees Make a Forest: On Memory, Migration and Taiwan

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4.32  ·  Rating details ·  22 ratings  ·  6 reviews

I have learned many words for 'island': isle, atoll, eyot, islet, or skerry. They exist in archipelagos or alone, and always, by definition, I have understood them by their relation to water. But the Chinese word for island knows nothing of water. For a civilisation grown inland from the sea, the vastness of mountains was a better analogue: (dao, 'island') built from the

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Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published November 7th 2019 by Virago
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Rebecca
(3.5) I loved Turning, Lee’s 2017 memoir about swimming in one of Berlin’s lakes per week for a year, so I jumped at the chance to read her follow-up, which delves into her maternal line’s history in Taiwan. She travels to Taipei for three months to brush up on her Chinese, write and hike. Interspersed with the lush descriptions of her walks are reflections on Taiwan’s history and on the hidden aspects of her grandfather Gong’s past that only came to light after Lee’s grandmother, Po, died and ...more
Charlott
Nov 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everything in my education had inoculated me against this kind of anthropocentrism: to resist the idea of nature for us alone, of a forest providing arboreal answers to very human predicaments. But still I find myself falling short, seeing in this mountain a mirror for my misunderstandings, as if in knowing its nature I might find a way to belong to this place.


Jessica J. Lee's sophomore book "Two Trees Make a Forest. On Memory, Migration and Taiwan" traces her grandparents' story from China to
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Andy
author reflects on migrant family history, shown through the lens of two return trips to Taiwan, mixed with known parents' and grandparents' stories and some secrets revealed through lost relatives and grandfather's rambling missive as he succumbed to dementia.

touches on the natural environment, the mountains and plants as she hikes on the island, also on the colonial history - but the detail here felt unnecessarily vague to me, and on the written language.
T.R.
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Part memoir, part quest for self, family, and nature in Taiwan, this is a gentle book with a gentle narrative voice that carries the reader along on a very personal journey. I like it for its simplicity and clarity, and its evocation of Taiwan and her family that is both personal and yet placed neatly within the great sprawl of the island's history and geography.
Hannah
“Born into conflict, at the junction of two volcanic arcs, Taiwan is an unstable landmass in perpetual confrontation.”

Lee’s debut Turning was one of my treasured discoveries from this past year, and I feel it was that memoir that prepared her for the massive scope of her second book: Taiwan is explored through geological, historical, and personal lenses. In the beginning, Lee paints the country in the bold strokes of millions of years, the timeline of geology, filling our heads with the dramas
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Sarah Swarbrick
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title of this book is a good summary of the topics of this book, but does not do justice to the sweep of history, geology and beautiful nature writing to be found inside. A beautiful story.
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