Monday, August 1, 2011

Book Review: Journey Across the Four Seas by Veronica Li

Journey Across the Four Seas: A Chinese Woman's Search for Home

Synopsis (from Goodreads):  This is a true and touching story of one Chinese woman's search for home. It is also an inspiring book about human yearning for a better life. To escape poverty, Flora Li fought her way through the education system and became one of the few women to get into the prestigious Hong Kong University. When the Japanese invaded, she fled to unoccupied China, where she met her future husband, the son of China's finance minister (later deputy prime minister).
She thought she had found the ideal husband, but soon discovered that he suffered from emotional disorders caused by family conflicts and the wars he had grown up in. Whenever he had a breakdown, Flora would move the family to another city, from Shanghai to Nanking to Hong Kong to Bangkok to Taipei and finally across the four seas to the U.S. Throughout her migrations, Flora kept her sight on one goal:  providing her children with the best possible education.

My Thoughts:  Journey Across the Four Seas is about Veronica Li's mother.  Flora Li was living in Hong Kong in 1941.  It is a few weeks before the bombing of Pearl Harbor and Flora Li is attending Hong Kong University without a care in the world.  Then, rumors started about the Japanese invading Hong Kong and how they killed hundreds of thousands of people in China and also made rape a common event. 

Flora has very light skin and is very beautiful.  However, after the war breaks out, her family rubs her with soy sauce to make her skin darker and try to make her uglier so there won't be a chance of her being raped.  After some time though, Flora finds the need to escape to a part of China that isn't being run over by the Japanese.  She starts school again and has her first crush.  The romance doesn't make it though and while she will always feel something for her first crush she is a much better person and moves on. 

This is really an amazing book and I learned a lot about China that I had never learned.  Flora Li was a very strong woman who would do anything for her five children.  It is a must read, especially if you love history like I do!

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