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The Third Sonby Julie Wu
Synopses & Reviews
In the middle of a terrifying air raid in Japanese-occupied Taiwan, Saburo, the least-favored son of a Taiwanese politician, runs through a peach forest for cover. It's there that he stumbles upon Yoshiko, whose descriptions of her loving family are to Saburo like a glimpse of paradise. Meeting her is a moment he will remember forever, and for years he will try to find her again. When he finally does, she is by the side of his oldest brother and greatest rival.
Set in a tumultuous and violent period of Taiwanese history — as the Chinese Nationalist Army lays claim to the island and one autocracy replaces another — and the fast-changing American West of the late 1950s and early 1960s, The Third Son is a richly textured story of lives governed by the inheritance of family and the legacy of culture, and of a young man determined to free himself from both.
In Saburo, debut author Julie Wu has created an extraordinary character who is determined to fight for everything he needs and wants, from food to education to his first love. A sparkling and moving story, it will have readers cheering for a young boy with his head in the clouds who, against all odds, finds himself on the frontier of America's space program.
"An epic and beautiful debut. Wu had me rooting for her hero right from the very start. The Third Son is a novel of chances and choices, love and loyalty, hope and heartache. A magnificently inspiring story of one man's odyssey to freedom." Lydia Netzer, author of Shine Shine Shine
"The Third Son is about love lost, love regained, and — most of all — love's endurance....I was entranced by this tale of an immigrant who boldly makes a new future for himself out of the wreckage of a Dickensian childhood. Julie Wu has taken the story of her own parents and turned it into a universal story that will have everyone cheering for Saburo and Yoshiko, two lovers whose faith in each other spans continents and oceans." Carol Rifka Brunt, author of Tell the Wolves I'm Home
"This novel opens with a blast of machine-gun fire, as a schoolboy delivers a girl from death during World War II. Julie Wu spins a fable of borders — between childhood and adulthood, Taiwan and America. In deceptively simple prose, Wu evokes the heartache of people caught in the middle." Marie Myung-Ok Lee, author of Somebody's Daughter
"A boy growing up in Japanese-occupied Taiwan in the 1940s will do anything to escape his tormenting family and reconnect with his first love in this compelling work of fiction." O: The Oprah Magazine
"A stunningly pure and inspiring love story....Deeply compelling." The Boston Globe
"Wu presents an alluring story that hits all the right emotional buttons and maintains readers' empathy from the first page to the last." Kirkus Reviews
"With great authority and skill, Wu depicts not just the grand events of the era, such as the Kuomintang (KMT)'s arrival in Taiwan and the brutal occupation that followed, but also the small, private moments of life....The Third Son should be the start of a very successful writing career for Julie Wu, and I hope she will not need long to write her next novel — I'm excited to read it." Fiction Writers Review
It's 1943. As air-raid sirens blare in Japanese-occupied Taiwan, eight-year-old Saburo walks through the peach forests of Taoyuan. The least favored son of a Taiwanese politician, Saburo is in no hurry to get home to the taunting and abuse he suffers at the hands of his parents and older brother. In the forest he meets Yoshiko, whose descriptions of her loving family are to Saburo like a glimpse of paradise. Meeting her is a moment he will remember forever, and for years he will try to find her again. When he finally does, she is by the side of his oldest brother and greatest rival.
Set in a tumultuous and violent period of Taiwanese history — as the Chinese Nationalist Army lays claim to the island and one autocracy replaces another — The Third Son tells the story of lives governed by the inheritance of family and the legacy of culture, and of a young man determined to free himself from both.
About the Author
After graduating from Harvard with a BA in Literature, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Julie Wu received an MD at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. She has received a writing grant from the Vermont Studio Center and won a 2012 Massachusetts Cultural Council fellowship. Her website is www.juliewuauthor.com.
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