I love generational stories! Especially those that involve women. A Thread of Sky by Deanna Fei is just that - a story of 6 women, 3 generations and their journey to discover the China that they were born from, but also to discover a part of themselves that was forgotten.
From the Publisher:
When her husband of thirty years is killed in a devastating accident, Irene Shen and her three daughters are set adrift. Nora, the eldest, retreats into her high-powered New York job and a troubled relationship. Kay, the headstrong middle child,
escapes to China to learn the language and heritage of her parents. Sophie, the sensitive and artistic youngest, is trapped at home until college, increasingly estranged from her family—and herself. Terrified of being left alone with her grief, Irene plans a tour of mainland China’s must-sees, reuniting three generations of women—her three daughters, her distant poet sister, and her formidable eighty-year-old mother—in a desperate attempt to heal her fractured family.
If only it were so easy. Each woman arrives bearing secre
ts big and small, and as they travel—visiting untouched sections of the Great Wall and the seedy bars of Shanghai, the beautiful ancient temples and cold, modern shopping emporiums—they begin to wonder if they will ever find the China they seek, the one their family fled long ago.
Over days and miles they slowly find their way toward a new understanding of themselves, of one another, and of the vast complexity of thei
r homeland, only to have their new bonds tested as never before when the darkest, most carefully guarded secret of all spirals to the surface and threatens to tear their family apart forever.
As these six women explore China’s magnificent landmarks and mysterious alleys, gradually unearthing family secrets, they also rediscover something they seem to have forgotten amid their fast-paced lives in America: “Jia—family, house, home. In Chinese, it was all one word.”
Deanna Fei has written a wonderful novel; compl
ex and haunting. The prose is beautiful; the words seeming to float across the page. The characters are well written, and the landscape of their travels is equally well drawn, giving the reader a slight feeling of nostalgia as the contrast of the old against the new are laid across the page. The story its
elf unravels the lives of each of these women as they struggle with their own identities. We are first introduced to each woman as they try to preform their duties as mothers, daughters, sisters and grandmother. When they are thrown together they do struggle, each feeling the need to appear strong and self sufficient. It is only when they slowly let their secrets come tumbling out, when each of them finally lets their guard down, that they start to truly connect with one another. It's a fascinating look at the inter-relationships of women in a family, and the differences between generations.
I really enjoyed reading this! The characters were memorable, as a woman I could relate to some of their insecurities, and the setting was fascinating. Not only would I recommend this to anyone wanting a wonderful book to read, but I would recommend this to reading groups. A Thread of Sky would make a wonderful discussion book, from the way the w
omen interacted with one another, to discussing how the word "family" means different things to different people.
About the Author...
Deanna Fei is the author of the novel A Thread of S
ky (Penguin Press, 2010), a New York Times Editors’ Choice and an
Indie Next Notable Book. She was born in Flushing, New York, and has lived in Beijing and Shanghai, China. A graduate of Amherst College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she has received a Fulbright Grant, a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship, and a Chinese Cultural Scholarship. She currently lives i
n Brooklyn and is at work on a new novel.