I really enjoyed Jamie Ford's last book, HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET. I thought it was a very sweet story and reminded me of a fairly shameful period in American history. I was interested to see how he would follow up on the success of that novel. I was very pleasantly surprised after reading his latest work, SONGS OF WILLOW FROST.
12-yr-old William Eng is living in an orphanage in 1930's Seattle. He is the only Chinese boy at the orphanage and he has waited for his mother to come back and claim him after seven years. It is the Depression and many of the children in the orphanage have parents who cannot take of them and abandoned them to the system. William's last memory of his mother is finding her unsconcious in a bathtub and watching as she is taken away to the hospital. He hasn't seen her since. On his birthday, William sees a movie starring a woman named Willow Frost that he is convinced is his mother. Spurred on by his blind friend Charlotte, William decides to try and find his mother and learn the truth about his abandonment once and for all.
I really loved this book. I though Ford had interesting things to say not only about that particular time period in history and the evolution of movies but also gives us insight into the world of the Chinese population living in Seattle at that time with the complexity of customs and social mores. I also loved the focus on the relationship between mothers and sons. The story is both sad and beautiful and I found it quite moving.
BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. A very sweet tale of one boy's courage in trying to find the truth about his past and that of his mother.