A Thread of Sky: Review and Free Giveaway

A Thread of Sky: A Novel by Deanna Fei

Release date: 2010 / 351 pages

Synopsis (from the back cover): When her husband of thirty years is killed, Irene Shen and her three daughters are set adrift. In a desperate attempt to heal her fractured family, Irene plans a tour of mainland China, reuniting three generations of women — her fiercely independent daughters, her distant poet sister, and her formidable eighty-year-old mother…

First Sentence:  Irene entered the new millenium alone, watching TV, waiting for the ball to drop — an end, at last, to the buildup.

Review:  I found this novel immeasurably, heartbreakingly sad at times, but truly loved reading it and believe most book clubs would too.  The topics of mother-daughter relationships, cross-cultural identity, and the need to reconcile the past with the present are universal and resonate deeply.  On a personal note, I had the great privilege of travelling to China with my own family, so I also enjoyed the particulars of the physical journey, as well as the emotional and psychological journeys.

The perspective of the novel shifts between the mother, her three daughters, sister, and mother and each section is well-crafted.  I believe this shifting point of view is one reason why Sky is so successful and why it exacts such an emotional toll — the reader has access to each woman’s intimate thoughts and motivations and can’t help but empathize with each one and understand why conflicts are so quick to arise, yet so unnecessary.  The pain of knowing that these individuals who love each other deeply will never have the same access to each other’s thoughts that the reader does is truly wrenching, but utterly authentic:

None of them knew how to talk to one another anymore. None of them knew how to admit sadness, or confusion, or hurt, or fear, because it felt like failure, like weakness. Maybe they never had known, not since they were children. Her father’s death had ripped them open, and then they’d scabbed over, too fast, their wounds still fresh under a thick, warped cover.

Another reason why this novel works so well is Fei’s prose.  She seemlessly creates six distinct voices and spirits, reflects the ambivalence that is China — historically and today — and then deftly integrates the characters against the backdrop of their ancestral home.  Here are two passages that exemplify her gift with language:

She held herself like so, sure and cool as a sheet of ice, while he coursed through the spaces beneath, between, inside her; while she began to believe in theri subsistence, in living a life of tonights; while the end of the year closed in and the start of the next loomed, impossible and inevitable; until the little yellow house proved a battered farce of a world, like an internment camp, like a bomb shelter; until the moment it collapsed.

Sooner or later, you need structure.  You have a life to build. You can build it around another person, children, a career, your art; you can pick a guiding principle — resistance, ease, duty, pleasure, mobility, permanence. There is love, the usual scaffolding. By the time it corrodes, the building is standing. Some use love like that and varnish it, bolster it, prop it up. Some use love like that and let it rot, then start again.

So, I strongly recommend this novel to book clubs — and any reader (especially women).  Interested in winning a free copy? Drop me a comment below and I will choose a lucky winner by the weekend!

Tuesday, March 29th: Amy’s Creative Side

Wednesday, March 30th: Write Meg

Thursday, March 31st: Chick With Books

Monday, April 4th: Rundpinne

Tuesday, April 5th: Chocolate & Croissants

Wednesday, April 6th: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books

Thursday, April 7th: English Major’s Junk Food

Monday, April 11th: Hospitable Pursuits

Tuesday, April 12th: BookNAround

Wednesday, April 13th: Reading on a Rainy Day

Thursday, April 14th: Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, April 20th: Boarding in My Forties

Thursday, April 21st: Book Journey

Friday, April 22nd: Amused By Books

Tuesday, April 26th: Good Girl Gone Redneck

Wednesday, April 27th: Book Club Classics!

Thursday, April 28th: Books in the City

Friday, April 29th: Reading Through Life

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25 Responses to A Thread of Sky: Review and Free Giveaway

  1. Betsy says:

    Please enter me for a copy – sounds like a great read!

  2. Anna says:

    Three generations of women and their relationships plus a good discussion…sounds good to me.

  3. Mona Garg says:

    I enjoy books about mother-daughter relationships. Please enter me

  4. Theresa Cain says:

    This sounds like a great read!!! Please count me in, and thanks 🙂

  5. Debbie says:

    This book sounds like a great book club read.

  6. CarolK says:

    Always looking for books to recommend to our participants.

  7. Anita Yancey says:

    Sounds very interesting. I’d like to read it.

  8. Marianne says:

    I,too, have visited China… with a friend, not family, and love to picture where I have been when reading a book. Generational books have always been a favorite and am sure I would enjoy reading and reviewing this book.

  9. Margie says:

    I enjoy family dramas. Count me in!

  10. Kay says:

    Put me in. In need of inspiration. Your review is great

  11. Mary says:

    This sounds like a wonderful book and I am always looking for good books for my book club as the unofficial scout and pre-reader. Please enter me for a copy. I so look forward to these reviews.

  12. Renee says:

    Sounds good to me! Please enter me:)

  13. Carol Wong says:

    I love books with a generational theme and although some of the book is heartbreaking, I would really love to read this book. I visited China before I met my husband. We would love to
    China to meet his aunts, uncles and cousinsfor the first time.


  14. Laurie says:

    I’d love to share this with my book club!

  15. Lynne says:

    This book is going on my to read list. It will make a good addition to my blog on books for women. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  16. My book club has several mother/daughter pairs – sounds like this one would be great for us.

    Thanks for being on the tour.

  17. nfmgirl says:

    I’d love a shot at this one. Please count me in. Thank you!

    nfmgirl AT gmail DOT com

  18. Sherrie Gil says:

    The mother-daughter relationship is interesting. Please count me in.

  19. Mary Gillick says:

    Thanks for sharing this book. Will suggest it to one of our book clubs. They’ve done several family books lately and are looking for another great read.

  20. Ruthie B says:

    You’re right, it does sound like a great book club pick & I would love to win it for mine. Thanks for the chance.

  21. Lisa Garrett says:

    I would love to read this! Thanks for the giveaway!!

  22. Wendy says:

    Sounds like a wonderful read! Please include me in the Giveaway! Thank you!

  23. Linda says:

    Thanks for another great review; I’d love to enter to share this book with my book groups.

  24. Heather Hartsel says:

    Sounds great, please enter me in the giveaway.

  25. Pingback: A Thread of Sky (TLC Tour Review) | Reading Through Life

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