Literary Quote of the Month

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences,” … Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Three Souls by Janie Chang… A Review

What an amazing book Three Souls by Janie Chang is! It's heartbreaking and joyful, and will wrap itself around you and capture your heart. It's the Lovely Bones meets Amy Tan. This book is filled with family and friendship, romance & betrayal. The setting is China 1930's, Pre-WWII, with the Nationalists fighting the Communists, and the fear of Japan invading; and a time when women were treasured for their dowries, and their ability to have sons.

The story centers around the spirit of Leiyin, stuck in-between life and the afterlife due to some unknown actions she must atone for. She needs to figure out what she did and how to correct the situation to move on, but how?! Along to help, but they have no choice either because they are stuck right along with her, are her three souls; her yin soul, her yang soul, and her hun soul. All three souls have their own distinct personalities, which we hear quite often as they chime in during the retelling of Leiyin's story. Her yin soul is her romantic side, her yang soul is her stern, practical & "scholarly" side, and her hun soul is her wise side, and they flood her with the memories of her life to help her figure out what she must atone for. We are whisked back in time to her carefree days as a student, as a number 2 daughter, as a very young, impressionable, and privileged girl surrounded by her large family and the first encounter with the man who will ultimately be the cause for much of the pain through out her short lived life...The story doesn't stop there though, because in order to atone for her actions, she's going to have to make some "afterlife" altering decisions too!

My Thoughts… I loved the main character, Leiyin. She was precocious, spontaneous, and full of life in a time where women were suppose to tow the lines of tradition. She was spunky in her past life, but I also liked Leiyin as she "matures" in the afterlife, which you see while she reflects on her past actions. I absolutely loved that the past and present were equal partners in the story, and Janie Chang did a beautiful job of seamlessly going back and forth between the two. I loved the idea of the three souls, and I enjoyed that they had their say in past events and interacted with Leiyin in some very interesting ways. (which I won't go into any detail about because I don't want to spoil it for you!). Actually I loved everything about this book...
"The moment the priest spoke the last prayer and sealed my coffin, I awoke and floated upward in a slow drift of incense smoke, until I could travel no farther. I settled in the rafters of the small temple, a sleepy wraith perched in the roof beams. I had knowledge, but no memory…"
Three Souls is historical fiction,  rich with the sights, sounds, and traditions of 1930's China. It's a coming of age novel. It's a romance. It's thought provoking. It's a novel that took hold of me and did not let me go until the last page and then I just lingered in the moment for days…

My recommendation… READ IT! You'll have to wait until Feb. 25th though, that's when William Morrow releases it. You can pre-order the paperback of Three Souls or The Kindle Edition with these links.

I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewers giveaway! I want to thank William Morrow , a division of Harper Collins, for the opportunity to read this special book with an advance readers copy!

*P.S. This book fulfills a book for The Chunkster Challenge 2014 (it's 468 pages) and a Square (and book) for the 2014 Book Bingo Reading Challenge (one new book).

1 comment:

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