cover image Daughters of Shandong

Daughters of Shandong

Eve J. Chung. Berkley, $28 (400p) ISBN 978-0-593-64053-1

Chung chronicles in her stirring debut the trials and tribulations of a family’s abandoned women during the Chinese Revolution. It’s 1948 and the wealthy Ang family is upset that their daughter-in-law, Chiang-Yue, still hasn’t borne a male heir after having three daughters. As the Nationalist Party retreats from the communists, imperiling the Angs, Chiang-Yue’s husband forsakes her and the children and flees from their home in the rural Shandong province with his extended family. Alone, Chiang-Yue and the girls face the wrath of a communist mob. Hai, the oldest at 13, is spat on and tortured. They survive, however, thanks to help from workers who reciprocate Chiang-Yue’s past kindness. Driven from their home, the four trek to the city of Qingdao to find the Angs, though Hai’s headstrong middle sister Di never wants to see their father again. The women eventually earn he’s in the Nationalist stronghold of Taiwan. Through it all, Hai vows to become self-sufficient so she can escape the sexist traditional beliefs that have made their lives so hard. Chung portrays the characters’ stark circumstances in lyrical prose (“Interpreting Di was like looking at ripples in the water and trying to see an image”). Readers will be moved by this humanizing account of a turbulent period in China’s history. Agent: Alexa Stark, Writers House. (May)