by: Jamie Ford
Dorothy Moy breaks her own heart for a living.
As Washington’s former poet laureate, that’s how she describes channeling her dissociative episodes and mental health struggles into her art. But when her five-year-old daughter exhibits similar behavior and begins remembering things from the lives of their ancestors, Dorothy believes the past has truly come to haunt her. Fearing that her child is predestined to endure the same debilitating depression that has marked her own life, Dorothy seeks radical help.
Through an experimental treatment designed to mitigate inherited trauma, Dorothy intimately connects with past generations of women in her family: Faye Moy, a nurse in China serving with the Flying Tigers; Zoe Moy, a student in England at a famous school with no rules; Lai King Moy, a girl quarantined in San Francisco during a plague epidemic; Greta Moy, a tech executive with a unique dating app; and Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman to set foot in America.
As painful recollections affect her present life, Dorothy discovers that trauma isn’t the only thing she’s inherited. A stranger is searching for her in each time period. A stranger who’s loved her through all of her genetic memories. Dorothy endeavors to break the cycle of pain and abandonment, to finally find peace for her daughter, and gain the love that has long been waiting, knowing she may pay the ultimate price.
Helen says: 🤓🤓🤓🤓
Remember at the turn of the century (a mere 23 years ago) when every bestseller took place in the far East…Memoirs of a Geisha, The Joy Luck Club, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan… I ate those books up! I lived in Hong Kong with my aunt for a summer in college. I really have an affinity for that region…This was my favorite book of the month. It was fabulous! I love a multigenerational tale all about trauma and suffering. Note to reader – it was heavy and not a light read at all.
Holly says: 🤓🤓🤓3/4
I am not sure what happened here, but it was a really great read. This is probably the “intellectual” read of the month, with a focus on epigenetics (look it up; for this novel: are the effects of trauma passed down to future generations?) and the female descendants of Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman to come to the United States. The story travels back and forth between generations for more than two centuries. Somewhat depressing throughout, but a wonderful ending. You will definitely need to consult the family tree in the front of the book. Jamie Ford is a fabulous writer – it is hard to believe this book was written by a man, since it has so much of a female perspective (similar to Arthur Golden’s Memoirs of a Geisha). Read it!