The island of Lee’s interest is Taiwan, and this linguistic excavation makes a fitting opening for a project that relies on archeological exploration ... The poignant question Lee’s story poses is this: How is one to distinguish the idiosyncratic and personal from tradition and culture? Even harder still, how is one to do this if sundered from that very culture? ... Throughout the book, Lee writes compellingly about all the ways Taiwan has been mythologized and orientalized, from the seventeenth century Dutch and Spanish, to Chinese and Japanese conquerors and colonists ... She also makes thoughtful and meticulous distinctions between language variations and transliteration standards in the Chinese diaspora—differences that are often elided in Western writing about Asia ... Love is attention, as the saying goes, and in this, Lee’s memoir truly shines. A remarkable exercise in careful attention, be it to the nuances of language, the turns of colonial history, or a grandfather’s difficult-to-read handwriting, Two Trees Makes A Forest is a moving treatise on how to look closely and see truthfully, even as the fog rolls in.
...luminscent ... combines a botanist’s precision with a poet’s eye and ear ... In Two Trees Make a Forest, she has created a powerful, beautifully written account of the connections between people and the places they call home.
... a stunning reconnaissance effort to uncover and connect with family history through language and landscape ... Through her luminous narrative, Lee provides an intimate history of an island, using all the languages available to her: English, Mandarin, Taiwanese, German, and those of an environmental historian ... Lee’s lyrical prose is steeped in observation ... Lee makes us feel we are experiencing this journey with her. Our hearts race, we catch our breath, our legs tire, and we take in the scenery ... Two Trees Make a Forest seeks to understand the forces responsible for exile, and the deep loss associated with it.