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It is 1943, and air-raid sirens blare as a frantic, eight-year-old Saburo seeks refuge in the forest. Dodging gunfire, Saburo stumbles into a beautiful young girl named Yoshiko, and the two rely on each other to survive the attack. When they part, Saburo vows to find her again as he returns to a dismal home life—to parents who starve him and a brother who takes every opportunity to exert his power over the young boy, even if it means stealing the heart of Saburo’s one true love. Having been born into a system that consistently dissuades him of his dreams, it takes all that Saburo has—natural intelligence, incredible ambition, and a strong heart—to escape his childhood, find his way back to Yoshiko, and achieve the American Dream.
Juxtaposing beauty with brutality, optimism with doubt, and ingenuity with tradition, Wu based Saburo’s story on her own father’s journey to the United States. Her elegant prose—rich with historical detail of first Japan’s occupation of Taiwan, then the Chinese Nationalists’—provides context to the political complexities within Taiwan today and the growing issue of Taiwanese identity. Hailed by Carol Rifka Brunt (Tell the Wolves I’m Home) as “a magnificently inspiring story of one man’s odyssey to freedom,” and as “remarkable . . . compulsive reading . . . the author keeps you hooked with the last sentence of virtually every chapter,” by the Taipei Times, this underdog tale is perfect for summer reading, a great fit for book clubs, and essential for any reader who has ever fought to achieve a dream.
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