Staff Picks Book Review - The Storm We Made by Vanessa Chan

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

The Storm We Made by Vanessa Chan

 A 2024 Good Morning America Book Club Pick, The Storm We Made by Vanessa Chan offers the story of Cecily, an unassuming wife and mother in 1930s Malaya. The wife of a low-level bureaucrat, Cecily is approached by General Fujiwara, a Japanese espionage agent who recruits Cecily to aid him in overthrowing the British colonial rulers of the time. Cecily willingly embraces her new role as spy, enamored as much by the idea of “Asia for Asians” as she is with her charismatic handler who she provides documents and other info gained through her mingling in Malayan political circles. A decade later, as 1945 imperial Japan is embroiled in World War II, Fujiwara emerges again into Cecily’s life and into the lives of her children. As each of her three children deals with the impact of the war around them, Cecily is haunted by how her reckless actions of a decade before are doing so much damage to those she loves. Though the book is set in early 20th century Asia, it is far more about the interpersonal relationships of the characters. The characters also have many independent story lines, with one character becoming prominent and them disappearing for a while only to emerge again later. A great read for those who love a character driven book.

8 Lives of a Century-Old Trickster by Mirinae Lee

8 Lives of a Century Old Trickster consists of eight dark and spellbinding chapters that follow this remarkable character and her family as they struggle to survive during the most turbulent times of modern Korean history. Mirinae Lee's trickster is a shapeshifter; throughout the course of these interconnected chapters she is a slave, an escape artist, a murderer, a terrorist, a spy, a lover, and a mother—a woman who must often choose the unthinkable to survive war and conquest in Korea.

The Song of the Jade Lily by Kirsty Manning

Beautiful local Li and Jewish refugee Romy form a fierce friendship, but the deepening shadows of World War II fall over the women as they slip between the city's glamorous French Concession district and the teeming streets of the Shanghai Ghetto. Yet soon the realities of war prove to be too much for these close friends as they are torn apart. 2016: Fleeing London with a broken heart, Alexandra returns to Australia to be with her grandparents, Romy and Wilhelm. Her grandfather is dying, and over the coming weeks Romy and Wilhelm begin to reveal the family mysteries they have kept secret for more than half a century.

How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee

As Japanese troops sweep down Malaysia and into Singapore, a village is ransacked, leaving only two survivors and one tiny child. In a neighboring village, seventeen-year-old Wang Di is strapped into the back of a troop carrier and shipped off to a Japanese military brothel where she is forced into sexual slavery as a "comfort woman." After sixty years of silence, what she saw and experienced still haunts her. In the year 2000, twelve-year-old Kevin is sitting beside his ailing grandmother when he overhears a mumbled confession. He sets out to discover the truth, wherever it might lead, setting in motion a chain of events he never could have foreseen.

All the Lives We Never Lived by Roy Anuradha

A poignant and sweeping novel set in India during World War II and the present-day about a son's quest to uncover the truth about his mother. In my childhood, I was known as the boy whose mother had run off with an Englishman. The man was in fact German, but in small-town India in those days, all white foreigners were largely thought of as British. So begins the story of Myshkin and his mother, Gayatri, a rebellious, alluring artist who abandons parenthood and marriage to follow her primal desire for freedom.

The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel

The Book of Lost Names returns with an evocative coming-of-age World War II story about a young woman who uses her knowledge of the wilderness to help Jewish refugees escape the Nazis-until a secret from her past threatens everything.

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