... riveting ... While Jun scrambles to survive in Jinmen, it is Hong who suffers the most, and it is her struggle that drives this absorbing book ... Li wisely fades into the background as she unspools these stories, surfacing occasionally to provide personal context. But her love for her aunts warms every page. If this exceptional book has any flaw, it is this: Li presents the sisters as near-saints, often taking pains to justify any seemingly morally ambiguous choice they make ... But what choices! Li unpacks the decisions each made to survive, and explains how those decisions pulled them toward the ideologies of their governments ... In placing her aunts’ stories side by side, Li presents the reader with two equally compelling questions: Will the sisters ever be reunited? And if so, will they even know each other? ... not a history of Taiwan-China relations, but in telling this gripping narrative of one family divided by the 'bamboo curtain,' Li sheds light on how Taiwan came to be — and why China might one day risk everything to take it.
Li recounts this real-life saga of rupture and reunion in propulsive, poignant detail. The book’s gripping narrative reveals the devastating human cost of the Chinese Revolution and will resonate, in particular, with anyone whose family has been severed by political events ... The author’s perspective, from having lived both inside and outside the People’s Republic of China, yields exceptional insight into her aunts’ personal histories and the constantly shifting political vicissitudes they endured. She unspools the unexpected, accidental swerves each life took with spellbinding grace. Here, in the pages of her book, she has knit together the family story as it was lived in both Chinas.