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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Review: Confucius Says by Veronica Li

Title: Confucius Says
Author: Veronica Li
Format: Ebook\
Publisher: Homa and Sekey Books
Publish Date: April 24, 2015
Source: I received a copy from the author; however, this did not affect my review.

What's the Story?:

From "Cary, a middle-aged Chinese American, was brought up to believe that children should shed blood for their parents. Confucius says so: filial piety is a sacred duty that requires extreme sacrifice on the part of the young. Thus when Cary’s parents become too old and feeble to live on their own, she doesn’t hesitate to take them in. With the blessing of her Caucasian husband, Steve, she dives into caregiving with enthusiasm. 

But the more Cary tries to please her parents, the crabbier they become. Baba fights with Mami, and Cary with both; sibling rivalry fuels the fire, and Steve is fed up. A string of crises forces Cary to confront the source of her troubles: Confucius. She reads the Book on Filial Piety to see what exactly Confucius says about the subject. To her surprise, she finds his sayings are quite the opposite of what she’s been taught to believe. Liberated from her misconceptions, Cary rediscovers filial piety as a universal formula for a functional and loving modern American family. "

My Two Cents:

In "Confucius Says," Cary and her husband, Steve, are confronted with having to move her aging parents into her house. Cary is very used to living on her own terms and her parents upend all of her carefully laid out plans and schedules. She quickly becomes frustrated when her parents don't seem to appreciate what she is doing for them. She will eventually learn that it isn't enough to simply offer a place to stay and that she will have to commit to doing more.

This is an issue that confronts so many people. Eventually parents get old and it often falls to the children to step in and take care of them. I'm currently watching this happen with my parents and my grandmother and it is incredibly difficult. The author did a good job of illustrating the strange sorting out of a new balance of power that a parent - child relationship has to go through in order to find a relationship that works for everyone. I really liked how realistic the author made this relationship change feel!

The book is told from multiple points of view, which did get a little confusing. Some parts were told from Cary's first person point of view, which I enjoyed the most because it allowed me to get close to the characters. Other parts are told from the third person point of view, either looking at Cary's parents' relationship with each other or Cary and Steve's relationship. It was a little difficult to have the point of view switch as it took me out of the story a little bit. 

Overall, I liked this story. It's a realistic and heartfelt look at how families change as the years go on.


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