Songs of Willow Frost, by Jamie Ford + Giveaway

Songs of Willow Frost, by Jamie Ford + Giveaway

Title: Songs of Willow Frost
Author: Jamie Ford
Pages: 325
Originally Published: 2013
Format I Read: ARC
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Rating: [rating:4]

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I received this book for free from the publisher. All content and opinions are my own.

Way way back in 2009, I participated in a blog tour for Jamie Ford’s debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. I really enjoyed that work, and, at the time, I lamented that I had just missed seeing him at a local venue. Well, here we are in 2013, and I’m participating in a blog tour for his second novel, Songs of Willow Frost. I really enjoyed this new work, and I’m thrilled that I will get to meet Ford at his upcoming appearance at one of my local libraries.

But I digress. The book. Songs of Willow Frost. Here’s a portion of the publisher’s blurb:

Set against the backdrop of Depression-era Seattle, Songs of Willow Frost is a powerful tale of two souls—a boy with dreams for his future and a woman escaping her haunted past—both seeking love, hope, and forgiveness.

Twelve-year-old William Eng, a Chinese American boy, has lived at Seattle’s Sacred Heart Orphanage ever since his mother’s listless body was carried away from their small apartment five years ago. On his birthday — or rather, the day the nuns designate as his birthday — William and the other orphans are taken to the historical Moore Theatre, where William glimpses an actress on the silver screen who goes by the name of Willow Frost. Struck by her features, William is convinced that the movie star is his mother, Liu Song.

Jamie Ford is a talented writer. There is no denying it. I was drawn into this story from the first few pages. The initial premise is awesome: an orphan is convinced that a movie star is his mother. I was worried at first that that plot point would be the crux of the entire novel, but I needn’t have worried. The is she/isn’t she is resolved relatively quickly, and the novel is able to encompass so much more. There is the racism rampant in the times. The bleakness of the economic outlook in the 1920s and 1930s. The harshness of life, especially for women of the time. What it means to be a parent or a child. How we can forgive others and ourselves and life. And there are these two characters, Willow and William.

It’s really good. But it wasn’t easy. It is undoubtedly bleak. Very bleak. Really really bleak. Did I mention bleak? And that makes for a rough 325 pages at times. Honestly, I’m still reeling a little from my emotional response to this book. But the fact that Ford evoked such an emotional response for me is telling. This book is well crafted and well written. I recommend it.

Songs of Willow Frost, by Jamie Ford [rating:4]

You can find Jamie Ford on his website, Twitter, and Facebook.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours and Ballantine Books for sending me a copy of this book for review.

GIVEAWAY! (Now closed)

I have one copy of Songs of Willow Frost to give away to one lucky reader. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post. US addresses only please. The winner will be selected on Sunday, October 27, 2013.

Update: The winner is Kathy from BermudaOnion’s Weblog. Congrats, Kathy!