Thursday, October 3, 2013
Audiobook Review: The Third Son by Julie Wu
Title: The Third Son
Author: Julie Wu
Narrator: David Shih
Unabridged Length: aprox. 10.5 hrs
Here is a summary of the book from the publisher's website:
It’s 1943 as air-raid sirens blare in Japanese-occupied Taiwan, eight-year-old Saburo is in no hurry to go home to the abuse he suffers at the hands of his parents and older brother. In the peach forests of Taoyuan, he encounters Yoshiko, whose loving family is like a glimpse of paradise for him. Their brief meeting is a memory he cherishes from that moment forward, and for years after he tries to locate her again. But when he finally does, she is by the side of his eldest brother and greatest rival.
As the Chinese Nationalist Army lays claim to the island after the war, Saburo bravely struggles to break free of the future assigned him by heritage and circumstance and to go in search of new frontiers.
I love reading books that give me a glimpse into another time and place and with Julie Wu's first novel, she did a pretty good job. She introduces us to Saburo, a young Chinese boy living in Japanese-occupied Taiwan. We follow Saburo through his life triumphs and struggles as he strives for a better life.
I think the beginning of the book was my favorite part as we look at life through young Saburo's eyes. Everyone is struggling to put food on the table and the air raids keep children close to home, not knowing when they will strike or who could be wounded. Children are taught to run for cover holding their backpacks over their heads, no matter how bulky they are and how much this can slow them down. The day Saburo meets Yoshiko he finally realizes how silly this action is, knowing a schoolbook will not offer protection from a bomb.
Saburo creates an instant friendship with Yoshiko and even when they seem to disappear from each others lives, she is always in his thoughts. When he ponders his future he learns that he desires more for his life than his parents expect from him. Since he is not the first-born son, he is not given priority for better schooling and other opportunities. So Saburo quickly learns that if he is going to find any success for himself, he is going to have to work hard and make it happen on his own.
This is a story about a young man with the odds stacked against him. Saburo does not accept his fate as he studies harder than any other family member setting him on a track that will allow him to escape the turmoil that has been cast upon Taiwan. It was a heart-wrenching and difficult journey for Saburo but he does persevere, allowing him to achieve his dreams.
I don't want to give any more of this book away, but it was enjoyable. David Shih brought Saburo's character to life for me and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to his narration. As much as I enjoyed this book, I have to admit that I didn't love it, but I do think Wu is off to a great start with this novel and I definitely look forward to her next book. With themes of love, war, family obligations, and perseverance, you may enjoy this book just as much as I did, or even more! I recommend this novel as a book club selection or for personal leisure.
My Rating: 3/5
Disclosure: This book was provided to me by the publisher through the Audio Jukebox program in exchange for an honest review.