Jenny C. 's Reviews > Songs of Willow Frost

Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford
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** spoiler alert ** 2.75 stars. I really enjoyed Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, but this book was very different. Ford did an excellent job of research. He had many details sprinkled into this book about the Seattle area and its historical times. I also liked his theme of mother-child love.

For some reason, though, I didn't really connect with the two primary characters of William and Willow. Perhaps it was the almost stereotypical plights of the two: the poor orphan and the struggling female immigrant. Also, William seemed way too mature for a child of his age, and his raising up in the orphanage had a very Oliver vibe to it. Willow, I had a hard time following and connecting with until the middle portion of the story. This may be because of the structure of the book... The novel starts off with William but then switches into memories of Willow and goes back and forth between the two.

I had a slight pet peeve with the Cantonese in the book, too. William keeps calling his mother "ah-ma," which is a bit confusing, because the phrase for paternal grandmother can also be called that. There is also one important scene where Willow asks for help. Instead of using the gentle phrase of "please, can someone help me?," I thought she would have used something more like "gao meng" to save herself. Also, I noticed at least one place ("Merry Christmas") where it seemed like Mandarin was swapped in for the Cantonese.

Overall, I felt that this novel was too melodramatic (certain set-ups also seemed almost too unbelievable, like the uncle Leo situation), and there was a very depressing feel to it through the majority of the scenes. Also, with the ending (despite it being slightly alluded to in writing and therefore justified), I still wondered why Willow hadn't made her decision regarding William earlier since she had achieved fame for many years.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
October 21, 2013 – Shelved
October 21, 2013 – Finished Reading

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Carol Bro Believe it or not, there have actually been times in this country's history in which, for some people and races, what you consider "melodramatic" was the norm -- It was their reality. Life can have a way of kicking you when you're already down, especially if you are a A Chinese-American woman living in Seattle's Chinatown during the Great Depression. For a poverty level Chinese woman in a male-dominated, sexist culture or a 12-year-old orphan at a time when "political correctness" and social reform are still in the far distant future, I don't think it's much of a stretch to see Liu Song's life being much the same as depicted in this book.

That being said, I would have given her Colin (the original version) as a reward for all her struggles. But then it's not my story, is it.


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