Butterfly Tears Butterfly Tears discussion

review by Marlene Ritchie

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Marlene (new) - added it

Marlene Ritchie Butterfly Tears by Zoe S. Roy
The themes in Zoe S. Roy’s first collection of fifteen short stories, Butterfly Tears, are universal. They explore whether our lives are predestined and, if not, whether we are free and have the courage to better our lives. This exploration differs from the usual, because the life questions are explored through fictitious narratives depicting Chinese women living in China, or as immigrants to the United States and Canada, and they relate to life between 1949 (the time of the Long March) and 1996. All but one of Roy’s stories are told solely or in part by Chinese women with a particular focus on the status of these women as influenced by history, culture and education. The plots are about relationships and are realistically set in the Chinese countryside and small apartments or in North American cities. Characters take on reality as they engage in daily life. The players could be Western women except for the fact that these women are bound by upbringing and memories to their homeland. We are persistently reminded of this tie in dreams and flashbacks. “Yearning,” “Twin Rivers,” “A Mandarin Duck,” “Gingko” and “Life Insurance” explore the theme of women’s search and expectation that each woman will find the security of a “Mr. Right.” “A Woman in China,” and “Noodles” reflect about the teachings of Confucius prevalent in Chinese society where the woman is to subjugate her wishes to those of her father’s and then to her husband’s. “Frog Fishing,” “Ten Yuan,” and “Balloons” are stories about patriotism and the lives of people during the Cultural Revolution, and about the realization by some people of their lack of freedom. Though uncovering family secrets often figures in the plots, this is the focus in “Fortune Telling” and “Wild Onions.” In the latter story the woman comes to understand why her family members were labelled as “evil people.” In the tales “Herbs” and “Jing and the Caterpillar” women with unusual courage chart new paths. The first story, “Butterfly Tears,” sets the tender, reflective tone of the book. While the protagonist Sunni hears a familiar melody on the radio, “she sinks into the music’s sweetness as the memories it triggered played in her mind.” She sees herself as a child again, questioning her grandmother about love and life and pondering her present relationship with her husband. She is reminded of Grandmother’s story about Liang and Zhu: forbidden to be lovers, they soar together as butterflies in the afterlife. Nostalgia, tears, hope and resolve come to the fore in Roy’s stories, and we are led to weigh the course of our own lives.

message 2: by Pat (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pat Salter As I read Zoe Roy’s Butterfly Tears, I felt very lucky I live in country of freedom and opportunities. I realized that I’d never experienced oppression or the urge to flee my country for a better life.
Since I read these stories, I’ve discovered a new world of fear, repression as well as courage and determination. While reading I could barely believe all what those women had to go through. I know that the book is mostly fiction, but the depictions of human conditions are truly realistic.
For the first time, I understood the ordeal of having to flee from your country, even at the price of endangering your own life. The price associated with beginning a life in a new country with a completely different language and customs. The weight of loneliness - the absence of even a single person familiar person. Gaining your freedom could lead to homesick feeling and yearnings for of all those loved ones who are still in your homeland.
The book is written in the form of a short fiction. Each story is very engaging and you would like them to go on and on. The only negative part is that each story is too short. You get close to each new character very quickly and you would like to follow them all along the book.
Roy’s writing style is very captivating. I believe that she is a promising writer and has a lot to give to readers.
--Pat Salter

back to top