Title: The Girl Who Wrote in Silk
Author: Kelli Estes
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "The smallest items can hold centuries of secrets...
Erickson is exploring her deceased aunt's island estate when she finds
an elaborately stitched piece of fabric hidden in the house. As she
peels back layer upon layer of the secrets it holds, Inara's life
becomes interwoven with that of Mei Lein, a young Chinese girl
mysteriously driven from her home a century before. Through the stories
Mei Lein tells in silk, Inara uncovers a tragic truth that will shake
her family to its core — and force her to make an impossible choice."
My Two Cents:
"The Girl Who Wrote in Silk" is a historical fiction dual narrative with one part told in the present and one in the past. Both parts are set in the islands just off of Washington state, close to Seattle. The past part is set in the late 1800s, a time when white residents of the Seattle area and many other parts of the country were trying to get rid of Chinese people in the area. Although the Chinese people had done many things like worked on the railroads and done other labor that was difficult to get white people to do, there was a general distrust and hatred of the Chinese. Mei Lien and her family are some of the Chinese that the white people are getting rid of. They are told to get on a ship to go back to China but the captain of the ship really plans to throw all of the people off before it leaves the coast. Mei Lien escapes from the ship and goes to make her life on one of the islands near Seattle. She will still face prejudice but it's better than the alternative. In the present day, Inara is a young woman from a rich family who is involved with real estate and investments. Inara would like to do something different then the job that her father has lined up for her. She'd like to take the house that her relatives left to her after they died and turn it into a boutique hotel. She finds that the history of the house and how her ancestors got it is more than just a little unsettling.
Dual narratives are a little bit of a mixed bag for me. Sometimes I really like them and other times I don't. Most of the time I really like the historical aspect and dislike the present. In the case of this book I really liked both the past and the present narratives and thought they fit together beautifully. Inara discovers a a sleeve that goes to a robe in the old house. The sleeve has all sorts of different embroidery on it. The action of The book focuses on the sleeve and how it came to be.
I really like that does book covered a topic diet isn't discussed a lot. The United States is more inclusive of people of diverse backgrounds than it used to be. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, there were many exclusionary policies that focused on excluding huge groups of people that were seen as unsavory the policies were totally unfair. For instance in the case of Mei Lien, she was supposed to be sent back to China because she's of Chinese descent even though she had been born in the states and had never been to China. It was hard to read about this difficult history but although this book is fiction, I think books like this that cover some of the more unsavory parts of history are important. Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it and what not. The author did a really good job of bringing the history and feelings of the time to life.
I would recommend this book for anyone who wants to be enveloped and a historical fiction tale that tackle some pretty difficult subjects!