September 4, 2011

Review - Journey Across The Four Seas (Veronica Li)

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.

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More than just your average memoir Journey Across The Four Seas reads like an adventure story that will touch you in many ways. Written down by
Veronica Li the book takes the reader through decades of her Chinese mother's life up until the moment she leaves for America, thus taking the journey referred to in the title.
This book is so multifaceted it's hard to summarize it in just a few lines. Trying to escape poverty through education and wanting the same for her own children later on, Flora Li has been through war, illness, family conflicts, and a less than perfect marriage. Admittedly I was a bit skeptic at first because you can never be sure who you are actually listening to when a person is telling someone else's life story. Though I soon found myself immersed in the clear voice of the author's mother which made the read a delight. The pace of the story unfolding is just as perfect as the sense for atmosphere for the time (early/mid 20th century) and not to forget the vivid description of characters and settings. If there is one thing I ended up missing it's actually to learn more about the time Flora spent in America, though I'm aware the book ended here on purpose.
Highly recommended even for those who dread memoirs! And certainly a must-read for anyone who's interested in Chinese history.
In short: A wonderful memoir that reads like an epic journey!

4/5 stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

1 comment:

  1. This post made me realize I haven't read many memoirs... Do you recommend anything else? :)