Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford -- 5 Stars
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Twelve-year-old William Eng, a Chinese-American boy, has lived at Seattle’s Sacred Heart Orphanage ever since his mother’s listless body was carried away from their small apartment five years ago. On his birthday—or rather, the day the nuns designate as his birthday—William and the other orphans are taken to the historical Moore Theatre, where William glimpses an actress on the silver screen who goes by the name of Willow Frost. Struck by her features, William is convinced that the movie star is his mother, Liu Song.
Determined to find Willow, and prove his mother is still alive, William escapes from Sacred Heart with his friend Charlotte. The pair navigates the streets of Seattle, where they must not only survive, but confront the mysteries of William’s past and his connection to the exotic film star. The story of Willow Frost, however, is far more complicated than the Hollywood fantasy William sees onscreen.
Shifting between the Great Depression and the 1920s, Songs of Willow Frost takes readers on an emotional journey of discovery. Jamie Ford’s sweeping book will resonate with anyone who has ever longed for the comforts of family and a place to call home.
As with Ford’s last book this is a bittersweet story that will give you such major feels. William is such a sweet kid, you can't help but love him and I just wanted to give him a hug. There are 2 characters that will stay with you long after you are finished and they are William and Charlotte, these two kids are so precious and so damaged by circumstance they will break your heart but they will also fill your heart with such feelings.
Willow/Liu Song is a memorable character too but although I did feel sorry for her, I didn’t have the same feelings for her as I did for William. Her story is a sad one but some of that sadness comes from the choices she makes, Yes, I know bad things happened to her and I know she had no choice in those matters but I think her later choices are the ones she felt the most guilt for and in some ways rightfully so. Yes, I know it is a different time and prejudices being what they were made things all the harder for her as a single/unwed Chinese mother in the 1920’s so I understand she did the best she could being so young and having no family to depend on. Ok, I am not going to say anymore you will need to make your own decision about how you feel about Willow.
I liked the alternating chapters as Willow tells William the story of his life before the orphanage and seeing it through his eyes as the story unfolds, as sparks of memory he had forgotten are reignited.
How come it is so hard for me to write a coherent review of a book I loved? This book made me feel so much, it is beautifully written; Jamie Ford has a great talent for taking a sad/bittersweet story and telling it in a way that you are not depressed when you are done with the book. There were a few times I had to put it down for a few moments, one moment especially and when you read the book you will know exactly which one I am talking about. But it just made the story more beautiful, and heartbreaking.
This is an amazing story, I for one absolutely loved it and I hope you will too. Beautifully, heartrending and heartbreaking but a story that will stay with you long after you are finished, I have such a book hangover from this book that I have not been able to start a new book yet, and for me that is a sure sign of a great book.