Flawless Jade

Barbara Hanrahan, Author
Barbara Hanrahan, Author International Specialized Book Services $14.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-7022-2276-4
Reviewed on: 03/01/1990
Release date: 03/01/1990
Flawless Jade is the marquee name chosen by Jin-yee, a Chinese girl who has seen too many American movies during her years as an usherette at Hong Kong's Golden Dragon theater, and who finds herself wondering whether to become a natural blonde, cherry blonde or platinum blonde. Although not yet 16, Jin-yee has lived through tumultuous moments in history. In connected vignettes, she describes Japan's military withdrawal from her impoverished Canton neighborhood at the end of World War II; her family's renewed prosperity under Chiang Kai-shek; the ascent of Mao Tse-tung; and the sacrifices her family must make as generations split up and Jin-yee and her parents move to Hong Kong. The brief novel is full of Chinese atmospherics and folklore (``a pair of dirty underpants is good to keep away evil spirits''), and Hanrahan (see Kewpie Doll , above) succeeds in creating a believable character in Jin-yee. But by filtering events through the girl's naive perspective, the author sacrifices complexity and subtlety. While the language and descriptions can be beautiful, the novel also suffers from a simplistic, one-dimensional tone. (Dec.)
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