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Songs of Willow Frost : a novel
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Fiction/Biography Profile
William Eng (Male), Chinese American, Orphan, Was put in an orphanage five years away after his mother passed away; takes a trip to the theater where he meets Willow and soon starts believing she is his mother; escapes from the orphanage determined to find Willow
Willow Frost (Female), Actress, Chinese American,
Coming of age
Death of a parent
Search for love
Great Depression
Seattle, Washington - West (U.S.)
Washington - Pacific Northwest (U.S.)
Time Period
-- 20th Century
Large Cover Image
Trade Reviews

  Library Journal Review

In 1934, all the boys from Seattle's Sacred Heart Orphanage take a trip to the movies. On the way, 12-year-old William Eng sees a movie poster featuring the famous singer and actress Willow Frost. He becomes convinced that she is the mother he thought was dead and immediately sets out to find her. Flashbacks to his mother's past explore being a Chinese woman-and a single mother-during the Depression. William learns that in order to protect him, his mother made heartbreaking choices. While the story is dramatic and emotional, Ford's (Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet) characters seem somewhat melodramatic, and his explanations for their various plights are uneven. For example, he explains paternal rights, but not why Willow was sterilized after her miscarriage. Verdict Still, this book, well read by Ryan Gesell, will appeal to fans and listeners of general fiction.-Joanna Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Libs., Providence (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

In his sophomore novel, Ford (Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet) relies on one of literature's most familiar scenarios: the young orphan embroiled in tragedy. William Eng has occupied a Catholic orphanage in Depression-era Seattle for five years when, in an outstanding coincidence, he learns of his now-famous mother's upcoming local show, and so begins the painful quest to reconnect with the woman who put him up for adoption. From the wicked stepfather's predilections to William's anguished friend Charlotte, the tragedy in this story is largely predictable. It's hard to get a feel for the character of the mother-Liu Song/Willow Frost; the plot hinges repeatedly on her view that she cannot trust honorable people who care for her with the truth. Other characters sound alike-detached and cleanly contemplative. Straining against the heavy-handed symbolism-the gateway-to-salvation rosary, the blind girl ripping off a teddy bear's eyes-and moments of true sentiment sacrificed to convenient/clever phrasing, there are sections that glow. When the sheet music store where Willow first gained notoriety loses its footing as society embraces radio, the story opens up to more natural turns. On whole, Ford's second literary visit to Seattle's Chinatown, though quick-moving and occasionally warmhearted, is little more than a contrived evocation of the darkest element of fairytales and classics. Agent: Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary Agency. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER <br> <br> From Jamie Ford, author of the beloved Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, comes a much-anticipated second novel. Set against the backdrop of Depression-era Seattle, Songs of Willow Frost is a powerful tale of two souls--a boy with dreams for his future and a woman escaping her haunted past--both seeking love, hope, and forgiveness.<br>  <br> 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.<br>  <br> Determined to find Willow and prove that his mother is still alive, William escapes from Sacred Heart with his friend Charlotte. The pair navigate 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.<br>  <br> Shifting between the Great Depression and the 1920s, Songs of Willow Frost takes readers on an emotional journey of discovery. Jamie Ford's sweeping novel will resonate with anyone who has ever longed for the comforts of family and a place to call home.<br> <br> Praise for Songs of Willow Frost <br>   <br> "If you liked Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, you're going to love Songs of Willow Frost . . . . tender, powerful, and deeply satisfying." --Lisa Genova <br>  <br> "[A] poignant tale of lost and found love." --Tampa Bay Times <br>   <br> "Arresting . . . [with] the kind of ending readers always hope for, but seldom get." --The Dallas Morning News <br>  <br> "[An] achingly tender story . . . a tale of nuance and emotion." -- The Providence Journal <br>  <br> "Ford crafts [a] beautiful, tender tale of love transcending the sins people perpetrate on one another and shows how the strength of our primal relationships is the best part of our human nature." --Great Falls Tribune <br>   <br> "Remarkable . . . likely to appeal to readers who enjoy the multi-generational novels of Amy Tan." --Bookreporter <br>   <br> "Jamie Ford is a first-rate novelist, and with Songs of Willow Frost he takes a great leap forward and demonstrates the uncanny ability to move me to tears." --Pat Conroy <br>   <br> "With vivid detail, Jamie Ford brings to life Seattle's Chinatown during the Depression and chronicles the high price those desperate times exacted from an orphaned boy and the woman he believes is his mother. Songs of Willow Frost is about innocence and the loss of it, about longing, about the power of remembered love." --Nancy Horan, author of Loving Frank <br>  <br> "Ford's boundless compassion for the human spirit, in all its strengths and weaknesses, makes him one of our most unique and compelling storytellers." --Helen Simonson, author of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand <br>  <br> "A beautiful novel . . . William's journey is one you'll savor, and then think about long after the book is closed." --Susan Wiggs, author of The Apple Orchard
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