Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Book Review: Three Souls

Author: Janie Chang

Title: Three Souls
Description: Leiyin is dead, but she and her three souls cannot move on to the afterlife. During her life on earth, she has made enough mistakes that she must atone for them before she can move along toward reincarnation. The three souls show her her life, then all of them must determine how to move on.  
Review source: Library Thing Early Reviewers
Plot: Leiyin falls for a revolutionary poet, Yen Hanchin, although he is older than she is and mostly involved with his communist friends. Her desire for him and for a college education lead her to make a choice that sends her life down a path that she never expected.
Characters: The characters are very well drawn. By portraying Leiyin from beyond the grave, the author shows both her thoughts at the time of her impulsive actions and her reflections later on from a more mature perspective. Secondary characters are also well-realized.
Writing style: The information at the back of the book indicates that the characters are based on Chang’s grandparents and great-grandparents. Chang is a wonderful storyteller, and the family connection gives Chang the desire to truly understand her characters, even those who initially appear less sympathetic.
Audience: Above all, this is a historical novel and gives the reader a glimpse of what it might have been like to be a young girl from a very wealthy family on the eve of WWII and China’s embrace of communism. 
Wrap-up: The only negative--and it's not insignificant--is the souls. I never got why there had to be three souls (not four, not two) and exactly what their purpose was. The story would have been just as good without them. Just the kind of historical novel I love. I was riveted by this story. 4.5/5*


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