Kathleen Winter's Reviews > The Year of Finding Memory: A Memoir

The Year of Finding Memory by Judy Fong Bates
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's review
Jun 17, 2010

really liked it

After two years working on my novel, "Annabel", I'm enjoying reading memoir and other non fiction, and recently took Judy Fong Bates' memoir of searching for her roots in rural China out of my beloved Atwater Library. This is a beautifully written work by a woman questioning the loneliness of her immigrant family and the sadness of her father who operated a hand laundry in smalltown Canada, undergoing relentless sacrifice and using a system of home economics so profound in its restraint as to cause sorrow that was, in his daughter's view, perhaps unnecessary.

What I like about the book is the writer's willingness to let mystery lie unanswered at times, and I also enjoyed the book's attention to loneliness. This was a lonely family misunderstood by those in both its old and new worlds, but Fong Bates' presence, her voice and her search, are a source of compassion in the memoir and, for the reader, a presence that warms the book's loneliness. Fong Bates' attention to concrete detail like her father's antiquated laundry equipment or the spiky and odd-leafed vegetables so different from things in her Canadian neighbours' gardens, are lovely to read.
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