How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Ballatine Books
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.
I haven’t been shy about expressing my love for Jamie Ford’s debut novel Hotel On The Corner of Bitter and Sweet. I read it in my pre-blogging days, and absolutely adored it. It’s frequented my blog on a few Top Ten lists because I just couldn’t believe it was his debut. So when I heard about Songs of Willow Frost, I just had to request it because it was Jamie Ford. Sometimes a second book can be a let down but this certainly isn’t the case with this book. In fact, Jamie has earned a place on my auto-buy author list.
Songs of Willow Frost is at times a very bleak read but at other times very uplifting. It is based in the middle of the Great Depression in a poverty-stricken neighbourhood in Seattle. One of our protagonists, William Eng is growing up in the Sacred Heart Orphanage. During a visit to the movies William finds a resemblance between the movie star Willow Frost and his own mother, who he remembers. William and his friend Charlotte decide to try and escape from the orphanage and find Willow Frost to see if they can uncover the truth about William’s life before the orphanage. In the 1920s, Liu Song is left without a mother, her stepfather is abusive towards her. She decides to break out on her own, but the world doesn’t treat a young unmarried Chinese woman very well.
Songs of Willow Frost is full of interesting, well developed characters. It was hard to put down. Jamie Ford really gets to the heart of the characters and portrays their emotions beautifully. His storytelling is simple, but so effective. Some parts were so heart-breaking to read.
The narrative switches between the two stories combining seamlessly together. I preferred William as a narrator, even though he was young, his life experiences gave him a mature outlook on life. Songs of Willow Frost is a fantastic story about the choices some people have to make to protect the ones they love.
Jamie Ford is certainly becoming one of my favourite authors. I’ve been blown away by his first two books and thoroughly recommend both Hotel On The Corner of Bitter and Sweet and this book. Is it too soon to ask for another book from Jamie?!
Would I recommend it?:
Hate List- Jennifer Brown