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A Thread of Sky

by Deanna Fei

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12426167,707 (3.46)16
Widowed after a devastating accident and fearful of facing her grief alone, Chinese-American Irene Shen reunites three generations of independent women from her estranged family--including her mother, sister, and daughters--during a tour of mainland China.
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    Yeh Yeh's House: A Memoir by Evelina Chao (terran)
    terran: Both books deal with an immigrant family and their struggles to integrate into American society. Travel to China to meet Chinese relatives opens the eyes of the younger generation to family history and the struggles of the Chinese people past and present. They also learn more about parents and grandparents.… (more)
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The Joy Luck Club lite I came across this book in an usual fashion. Deanna Fei was inadvertently involved with a blowup earlier in 2014 where an executive of AOL slammed the insurance costs of two babies. Fei wrote an article in response to these comments, outlining her second pregnancy, the normal manner in which it proceeded and and the gratitude she felt for the medical help and the insurance to pay for the costs. It was an exceptionally compelling piece (her child turned out to be okay) and the executive apologized soon after.
 
When I saw that she had a book, I was intrigued. Irene is a recently widowed woman who was coming to terms with her marriage, what it's like having raised her children in a country unlike her birth country, and what her life and motherhood had done to her career. We follow the lives of her and her daughters, Kay, Sophie and Nora as they and Irene's grandmother decide to go on a trip to China.
 
Then the book began to fall apart. Fei is an excellent writer. But it became a soap opera of dramatic proportions that I just grew bored with it all. Irene fades as a character as we focus on her daughters. One is dealing with an unfaithful ex whom she can't seem to separate herself from. Another is trying to cope with what she wants to do with life after spending some time in China. The last is bulimic and and the youngest, obviously with her own issues.
 
The book was supposed to be about bonds and family and relationships, but it just got so bogged down the in the romantic entanglements, the personal drama, the plan to see their estranged grandfather, etc. I felt like it was trying to be like The Joy Luck Club (except it's just one family) but it just failed. As I read further on it just got more and more tedious and I felt less and less momentum to keep going.
 
But, luckily I got this as a bargain book so, I can't be too upset. For others this might be a good read (there are interesting aspects of what it's like being a tourist there, from being pickpocketed to being swindled to food poisoning to reading why some cater to foreign tourists for survival, etc.) but I didn't care for it. Hopefully her next book will be better.
  ( )
  HoldMyBook | Feb 11, 2018 |
A very compelling story...and a very good read. The characters were well developed. And the historical contexts both in the US and in China were solid. Not a rehashed story of some Asian-Americans visiting the ancestry home and not Orientalia that has been prevalent for some Occidentalized readers.

For West Coast ABCs, this was definitely written by an East Coast ABC. ( )
  ming.l | Mar 31, 2013 |
Absolutely fantastic. Her descriptions of things--like falling--were amazing, and so accurate. I've heard many books described as lyrical, but never knew exactly what was meant until I read this. ( )
  millhold | Apr 10, 2012 |
This was a glimpse into the relationships among the members of a Chinese American family. Three generations travel to China to visit relatives and discover things about themselves and others that change the way they will see each other in the future. ( )
  terran | Aug 8, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
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For my parents, Mimi Wen-Pi and Donald Li-Tao Fei, who gave me everything
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Irene entered the new millennium alone, watching TV, waiting for the ball to drop -- an end, at last, to the buildup.
Quotations
Her mother and sister, herself and her daughters -- they had all set out, in a way, to be astronomers. Focused on chasing the unattainable, on charting the unknowable, and forgetting what made them who they were, what gave meaning to their lives in the end -- the connections between them. It was time they all remembered.
Why were the two of them here at all? Six women, three generations, two sets of sisters -- for the mathematics, for the symbolism?
To Kay, the salient feature of China was suffering. Her efforts on behalf of this nation's downtrodden were noble, charitable, and misguided. She was only a visitor. A visitor to America would seek out the Empire State Building, the Grand Canyon, the Golden Gate Bridge. The essence of a country was in its highlights, not its lowest common denominator.
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Widowed after a devastating accident and fearful of facing her grief alone, Chinese-American Irene Shen reunites three generations of independent women from her estranged family--including her mother, sister, and daughters--during a tour of mainland China.

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