Inara Erickson is exploring her deceased aunt's island estate when she finds an elaborately stitched piece of fabric hidden in the house. As she peels back layer upon layer of the secrets it holds, Inara's life becomes interwoven with that of Mei Lein, a young Chinese girl mysteriously driven from her home a century before. Through the stories Mei Lein tells in silk, Inara uncovers a tragic truth that will shake her family to its core — and force her to make an impossible choice.
Inspired by true events, Kelli Estes's brilliant and atmospheric debut serves as a poignant tale of two women determined to do the right thing, and the power of our own stories. (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
My Review: Have you ever been to the San Juan Islands? I must admit that I had never even heard of the San Juan Islands until one of my good friends planned a girl’s trip for the two of us to her hometown of Seattle. As part of her growing up years they would go camping in the San Juan Islands, and so we spent about three days on the islands of San Juan and Orcas. Friends, it was amazing! Seriously! Orcas was my favorite. As a girl from a very cold and very dry state, I was utterly blown away by how lush and green and beautiful it was. Seriously. I’ve got to get back. My good news to you today is that this book takes place on Orcas Island! Gah! I was so excited about this when I started reading it. I’m not sure I would have appreciated the beauty and magic of the island had I not actually been there myself.
This book takes place on Orcas Island and in Seattle, and it takes place during two different times. I’ve read many books like this before so it’s not like this was new to me, but I like the two different stories. I’m still not sure that the modern story was completely necessary, I mean, it did provide a good vehicle for the reconciliation of things in the end, and it was a good catalyst for beginning the story, but the historical fiction story was compelling enough that I think I could have stood alone. However, having the two stories worked. There were times when it seemed a little disjointed—almost random—but in the end it had a nice tie-in. As with all books that are able to pull this off, there was that inevitable tension that comes from switching time periods right when things are getting exciting in the other story. This made it a fast read—I was always trying to figure out what was going to happen and so I would keep reading. Then the other story would get compelling, but then I would be thrown back into the other story…lather, rinse, repeat. It really does make for an exciting book.
I felt the book was decently written. In other words, I didn’t notice the writing, per se, which is a good thing in that it wasn’t completely crappy or forced. On the other hand, it wasn’t completely beautiful and poetic. That’s okay, though. I don’t think all books have to be like that. Don’t get me wrong—I love and greatly appreciate beautiful writing—but sometimes I just like a book where the writing stays out of the way of the story. It’s accessible, it’s not clunky, and it allows for a smooth creation of the characters and events.
I did like this book. It was sad. I was completely unaware of this part of history, and I feel like it’s one of those stories that, although not as epic and sweeping as some, is significant enough that I’m glad this author was able to create a compelling story around it. And let us not forget the magic of Orcas Island! I feel like this really played a big part of it. Some authors do a good job of utilizing surroundings and making them part of the story, and I think the author did a great job with this. If you are into historical fiction or chick lit or even Orcas Island, I think you would enjoy this book.
My Rating: 4 Stars