The book starts out in Japanese occupied Taiwan in 1943. Air-raids are going down over the beautiful island, while eight-year old Saburo walks home from school. He is in no hurry though because as the least favorite third son in the family he can not expect to be greeted friendly by his parents or his older brothers. Walking through the forests he runs into Yoshiko. She seems a most lovely creature to Saburo and he cannot ever forget their friendly encounter determined to find her. He comes of age in an oppressed Taiwan, now ruled by the Chinese Nationalists. As best he can he tries to build a future for himself as he cannot count on the help of his parents. He dreams of going to America.
I often felt really depressed by the injustice Saburo has to face. It seems he is never lucky and has to work hard for his future which always seems at the edge of being destroyed by some envious or evil characters. Although he struggles really hard, I could not quite get engaged in Saburo's character. I read about his fate from a distance.
Another issue I had is that some parts of the story were revisited again and again, although I already got it how important they were (e.g. the meeting with Yoshiko when they were children or the abusive behavior of Saburo's parents), where others were leaped over. I enjoyed the historical and cultural aspects of the first half of the story though and understand that the author was very much engaged in giving a picture of a Taiwan as it was back then.
I would only recommend this for readers that a are interested in the history and culture of Taiwan or who can stand a depressing tale of a young man trying to make something for him in the world.
The book will be released in spring this year.