Songs of Willow Frost (Ford)

Songs of Willow Frost 
Jamie Ford, 2013
Random House
352 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780345522023

Set against the backdrop of Depression-era Seattle, Songs of Willow Frost is a powerful tale of two souls—a boy with dreams for his future and a woman escaping her haunted past—both seeking love, hope, and forgiveness.

Twelve-year-old William Eng, a Chinese American boy, has lived at Seattle’s Sacred Heart Orphanage ever since his mother’s listless body was carried away from their small apartment five years ago. On his birthday—or rather, the day the nuns designate as his birthday—William and the other orphans are taken to the historical Moore Theatre, where William glimpses an actress on the silver screen who goes by the name of Willow Frost. Struck by her features, William is convinced that the movie star is his mother, Liu Song.

Determined to find Willow and prove that his mother is still alive, William escapes from Sacred Heart with his friend Charlotte. The pair navigate the streets of Seattle, where they must not only survive but confront the mysteries of William’s past and his connection to the exotic film star. The story of Willow Frost, however, is far more complicated than the Hollywood fantasy William sees onscreen.

Shifting between the Great Depression and the 1920s, Songs of Willow Frost takes readers on an emotional journey of discovery. Jamie Ford’s sweeping novel will resonate with anyone who has ever longed for the comforts of family and a place to call home. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Where—Seattle, Washington, USA
Education—Art Institute of Seattle
Currently—lives in Montana

Jamie Ford is the son of a Chinese-American father and the great-grandson of Nevada mining pioneer Min Chung. Min emigrated from Kaiping, China, to San Francisco in 1865, where he adopted the Western name William Ford, thus confusing countless generations. Jamie grew up near Seattle’s Chinatown, he now lives in Montana with his wife and children.

He is the author of two novels: the bestselling The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (2009) and Songs of Willow Frost (2013). He is also an award-winning short-story writer, an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and a survivor of Orson Scott Card’s Literary Boot Camp. (Adapted from the publisher.)

Book Reviews
[Ford's] new work depicts another star-crossed romance, but the real love here is between mother and son. On a movie outing, William Eng, a Chinese American boy at the repressive Sacred Heart Orphanage in 1930s Seattle, sees the beautiful actress Willow Frost on-screen and is convinced that she is his mother.... He finds her quickly...then hears her plaintive tale.... Writing in simple, unaffected language befitting both William and the young Willow, Ford delivers a tale his fans will certainly relish. —Barbara Hoffert
Library Journal

William awakens to yet another morning of beatings for bed-wetters at the Sacred Heart orphanage. In 1931, lots of children have been orphaned or left with the sisters because their parents could not care for them.... [He] joins the other boys on a trip to the theater. Just before the movie begins, a beautiful woman appears on screen.... Soon, William and his best friend, Charlotte...concoct a plan to escape the orphanage and find the mysterious singer named Willow Frost.... Ford writes of American life in the 1920s and '30s, bustling with go-getters and burdened with trampled masses.... A heartbreaking yet subdued story.
Kirkus Reviews

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