by Rebecca Haase (Manassas, VA): The turmoil in China from 1938 to 1998 is the background for this family tale. Meilin, a young wife and mother, loses her husband to the Japanese invasion and then must flee with her 4 year-old son when the marauding Japanese attack her family’s village. The book continues with mother and son as World War Two, the communist uprising, the Nationalist movement and other calamities affect them. Renshu, the son, quickly becomes the focal character in this richly descriptive and harrowing tale. Fu’s character study of Renshu as he progresses through life, first in China and then the United States, education, then marriage and a family of his own, makes the book believable and engrossing. A scroll depicting various folk tales is the link for each episode in his life. After a slow start the book is compelling reading. The scholarship is impeccable. China comes alive as Renshu and his mother contend with the vicissitudes of life in a country racked by turmoil. 4 of 5 stars