Renshu has settled in America as Henry Dao after a traumatic childhood as a refugee from China, where, in 1938, he and his mother Meilin had to flee as the Japanese army approached. Now his daughter Lily is desperate to understand her heritage, but Henry refuses to talk about his childhood: How can he keep his family safe in this new land when the weight of his history threatens to drag them down? Yet how can Lily learn who she is if she can never know her family's story?
Debut novelist Melissa Fu draws on her family's history to create a captivating story of immigration, family secrets and deep love ... Fu writes sensitively about the concerns of multiple generations of immigrant families: the daily needs of survival during traumatic times, the fierce determination to protect one's children and give them better opportunities, the difficulties of sharing a family history that includes so much pain ... Fu's thoughtful third-person narration gives readers a sense of all three characters' perspectives, as well as a slice of modern Chinese history. Richly described, with deeply compassionate protagonists, Peach Blossom Spring is a haunting tribute to immigrant families and a gorgeous meditation on how stories can shape identity.
Fu’s heartfelt debut is captivating as she examines the traumas of war and the sacrifices survivors feel forced to make for a brighter future. Following three generations of one family, readers will be moved by Fu’s sincere and tender prose and the struggles her characters face in looking for a safe place to call home.
... poignant ... Fu spends the first half of the novel ping-ponging between mother and son, shuttling them through 20 years of tragic struggle. As their stories diverge, the author devotes long sections to each protagonist, slowing the frenetic pace to focus more on character development, which yields a stronger second half. The result is an affecting if somewhat scattershot tale of love, loss, estrangement, and heritage.