Two Trees Make a Forest: On Memory, Migration and Taiwan
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...more
It is the history of Taiwan, a relatively young island at a spry 6-9 million years and barely 90 miles wide, variously occupied by the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese and Chinese. It is the home to thousands of endemic species specific ...more
I'm not typically one for nature writing; I have a hard time visualizing descriptions of the natural world, partly because I don't have the vocabulary to understand it and partly because I just find it hard to conceptualize vast landscapes in general. If you're like me, then this book will be perfect for you. Because yes, Two Trees Make a Forest is a book about the natural world--of Taiwan, specifically ...more
The best way to describe it is a mix of Forgiveness by Mark Sakamoto and Beyond the Trees by Adam Shoalts. But where both have a clear progression and timeline, even with flash backs and complementary stories as the main story progresses.
What I remember about this story is the grandparents lived in Niagara, that the grandfather learnt to cook at the feet of his mother. An ...more
If you like nature writing mixed with memoir and family history and travel, pick up this story of a woman travelling to Taiwan, hiking through the forests and recounting her grandparents' history.
I definitely want to visit Taiwan and hike the mountains and forests there, now.
My main critique is I wish there had been more exploration of the indigenous population of Taiwan - she briefly covers the colonization history of Taiwan (by Europeans, mainland China, and Japan at alt ...more
Now, I feel like I must visit Taiwan and see the beautiful landscapes and w ...more
Taiwan has a fascinating history, and getting to read about that often dark past was interesting. I was also very invested in her grandfather’s story.
Attempting to uniquely parallel and juxtapose the naturalist world of Taiwan and ...more
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 T ...more
At first, it seemed like a wiki article. Then the opposite, “captivatingly beautiful prose” (from the book description) kicked in.
And it’s somewhere between there (dry text and fluff), where I like my books. I kept thinking...alright already...tell me some interesting stories!
To me, this memoir was a meditation on belonging and mourning. Mourning a lost history, a lost ancestry, a lost connection....researching and learning about Taiwan is an act of mourning for this author...an attempt to piece together a broken history of family and land...a story th ...more
Like the sequoias of the U.S. Pacific Northwest, red and yellow cedars in Taiwan are so huge that just two of them, writes environmental historian Jessica J. Lee, can look and feel like a whole forest...
At the center of “Two Trees Make A Forest” is the author’s exploration of family identity and the political dimensions of Taiwan’s past. While born and raised in Canada, Lee writes that “Taiwan and its past had inhabited my imagination for most of my life.”
While “Two Trees Makes A Forest” ...more
I would say that this is peek Canada reads memoir. It was lyrical
I think I would have connected more with the story if it was more linear
I learned a lot about Taiwan
Although there is certainly a lot of information on the history of Taiwan and the state of much of its flora and fauna, I didn't find these details overpowered the basic story of the discovery the author's own family history. ...more
This memoir was the first book I read that focused so closely on Taiwan as a key element of the story. The book flips back and forth between Lee’s family stories, and the history and colonization o ...more
I’m glad I picked up this book. I really got through it so quickly. There’s a lot that the author both articulates here and which you can read between the lines that just resonates – about being Taiwanese and Chinese, being of the diaspora, trying to uncover your family history, and of the divides and bridges of language, history, family, and home. It’s a must read for diasporic Taiwanese and Taiwanese Chinese folks. The book is a great and interesting blend of memoir, travel writing, and bot ...more
“Our history stretched across places imprecisely until our borders grew too hazy to define.”
“Taipei was a city that belonged to my childhood imagination. Built of words spoken quietly to me by my mother, its streets were paved with her longings. The air was made of memories.”
This book is an ode to Taiwan of the past, present, and future. Reading this book I was transported to the island that Lee travels to to discover her family history. This book ...more
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. ...more
Two Trees Make a Forest is Canadian author Jessica J. Lee's second book. As the name suggests, it's about her travels in Taiwan whilst trying to learn more about her grandparents past. Her grandparents were both Chinese, but immigrated to Taiwan where they raised their daughter, before eventuall ...more
“The gaps that bind us span more than the distances between words.”2/5 stars.
ebook, 271 pages.
Read from February 4, 2021 to February 9, 2021.
Review at The Pluviophile Writer: https://bit.ly/2ZNi0TD
My second of five of the Canada Reads 2021 selection that will be championed by Canadian singer-songwriter Scott Helman in the debates that take place in March.
I know, I’m behind but I’ve been up to my ears in essays. I was really looking forward to reading this memoir and learning a bit more about Tai ...more