A stunning story of love, betrayal, and family set against the backdrop of a changing Taiwan over the course of the 20th century.
February 28, 1947: Trapped inside the family home amid an uprising that has rocked Taipei, Dr. Tsai delivers his youngest daughter, the unnamed narrator of Green Island, just after midnight as the city is plunged into martial law. In the following weeks, as the Chinese Nationalists act to crush the opposition, Dr. Tsai becomes one of the many thousands of people dragged away from their families and thrown into prison. His return, after more than a decade, is marked by alienation from his loved ones and paranoia among his community - conflicts that loom over the growing bond he forms with his youngest daughter. Years later, this troubled past follows her to the United States, where, as a mother and a wife, she too is forced to decide between what is right and what might save her family - the same choice she witnessed her father make many years before.
As the novel sweeps across six decades and two continents, the life of the narrator shadows the course of Taiwan's history from the end of Japanese colonial rule to the decades under martial law and, finally, to Taiwan's transformation into a democracy. But, above all, Green Island is a lush and lyrical story of a family and a nation grappling with the nuances of complicity and survival, raising the question: How far would you be willing to go for the ones you love?
©2016 Shawna Yang Ryan (P)2015 Audible, Inc.
"Shawna Yang Ryan's propulsive storytelling carries us through a bloody time in Taiwanese history, its implications still reverberating today…Green Island is a tough, unsentimental and moving novel that is a memorial not only to the heroes, but also to the survivors." (Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Sympathizer)
"An intricate, gracefully told tale that blends war history, suspense and a woman's coming-of-age and beyond…The pages bloom with description, with a photolike sense of place…And throughout Green Island is an aching sense of the idea of home." (The Seattle Times)
"Absorbing and affecting, this powerful tale explores the bond between a father and daughter, the compromises they are forced to make, and the prices they pay in their quest for freedom." (Booklist)
I was completely swept up in this book that bridged from colonial times up through martial law and into democracy in Taiwan... And also wound to Berkeley, California. I've never been to Taiwan and now am interested in going. This book gave such a rich experience of its history, expressed through the lives of many compelling characters.
The narrator is fallible – we see that – and yet we stay with her, chagrined sometimes at what she's doing but also understanding it. I especially enjoyed all the sensory details in the novel. The writer takes time to depict just what the narrator is feeling in her body and experiencing in her surroundings. It makes the book so lush.
I listened to this book around the house and while driving in my car, and it was something I wanted to return to as much as I could. Highly recommended.
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