Mother Talk Blog Tour - February Flowers
From the back cover:
Set in modern China, February Flowers tells the stories of two young women's journeys to self-discovery and reconciliation with the past.
Seventeen-year-old Ming and twenty-four-year-old Yan have very little in common other than studying at the same college. Ming, idealistic and preoccupied, lives in her own world of books, music, and imagination. Yan, by contrast, is sexy but cynical, beautiful but wild, with no sense of home. When the two meet and become friends, Ming's world is forever changed. But their differences in upbringing and ideology ultimately drive them apart, leaving each to face her dark secret alone.
Insightful, sophisticated, and rich with complex characters, February Flowers captures a society torn between tradition and modernity, dogma and freedom. It is a meditation on friendship, family, love, loss and redemption and how a background shapes a life.
Fan Wu is a masterful storyteller. She embroiders the pages of this tale with gorgeous detail, and captures the twilight time between girlhood and womanhood perfectly. Somber, but never dark, February Flowers took me back to my own late teens and early twenties. Ming's fascination with Yan's 'bad girl' behavior and appearance is perfectly contrasted with her own bookish, 'good girl' ways and reminded me of my own friendships and struggles to grow up at that age.
In a pivotal scene, early in the novel, Yan appears in Ming's room with a new, sexy dress. Yan insists that Ming try it on - and seeing herself dressed up for the first time, Ming realizes that the line between girlhood and womanhood is a fine one. This realization is an uncomfortable one for Ming, and plays out in an unpredictable, real way.
Most of us have that one girlfriend in college - the one who has mastered the workings of a world we don't understand. Fan Wu captures the exhilaration and heartbreak of these challenging friendships perfectly. Ming's journey from seeing herself as a girl to embracing her womanhood travels in stops and starts. As she gathers knowledge about relationships, sexuality and her own power, she is jolted, again and again, by the way things are. Her roommates' confessions about desire, her first exposure to dating, her own awakening sexuality - all of this is shocking to Ming. The push and pull of Ming's emotions feel authentic, and had me fully invested in the novel.
Fan Wu is tender, but not sentimental to these young women who are balanced on the edge of What Comes Next. I was truly moved by their stories, and am eager to share this book with my book club. I highly recommend February Flowers.
To see what other Mother-Talk bloggers have to say about February Flowers, visit the roundup. For more information on Fan Wu, you can visit her site. And to get your own copy of February Flowers, go shop.