Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu

A multi-perspective narrative spanning generations in modern China, this book is haunting and powerful. This story is honest and heart wrenching with striking writing. I can not believe that this is a debut novel; Fu did an amazing job of detailing the details of the war. The writing is detailed escaping you to a place with her words and her beautiful imagery can make you imagine that you are there.

“It belongs only to itself, the notes tumbling into his ears like waterfalls, drenching him in their urgent beauty.”

Peach Blossom Spring spans 70 years starting with Meilin in China after she is displaced by the war with her child Renshu. After they spend years fleeing the war Renshu moves to America with nothing but a few papers the first time being apart from his mum since the war began. As his life in America grows so does his family but once his child Lily starts asking questions about his part the lines between his American life and his Chinese life starts to cross.

This book is built on its characters. Meilin is a beautiful soul even after everything that happens to her in this book. Her determination and devotion to her son is unmatched and inspiring to read about. Renshu is confused about his past which causes his conflicting feelings surrounding that of his mother and his history. The conflict between him and his daughter is so hard to read knowing that Renshu knows he is protecting his daughter only for her to be so troubled by his past. The characters are so compelling to read from and creates a vivid story which at times makes you believe that these characters are real.

During this book I felt as though I learnt so many things despite it being a non fiction book. Finding out about the war and everything that happened to the people involved was heartbreaking to read about. It allowed them to show the various outcomes from being lost to the war to not surving the journeys they had to take as well as the unspoken deaths in the books.  Seeing how many people were impacted by this war and seeing how long the impacts have lasted through this being a multigenerational narrative was hard to take in at times. After reading the authors note and discovering that this book is semi-biographical by honouring her fathers’ stories of the war makes this book even more heart wrenching. At times I struggled to follow it however this is due to my own unawareness on this war and now I want to know more.

“I guess the thing about Peach Blossom Spring is that if you are fortunate enough to find it, you are also unfortunate because you have to decide what to do. Do you stay, and forego all else? Or do you return home, with the understanding that you’ll never find it again? Is it a blessing? Or is it a curse?”

My favourite thing about this book was the beautiful fables woven into the story and teaches through the narrative such as the Peach Blossom Spring story. It adds a sense of place and discovery to the book and made me consider each of the lessons throughout.

This book was beautiful and I gave it a four stars because it just instantly transported me to a world I never knew existed. Learning all of this information about the war was heartbreaking but so informative. I am excited to see what Mellissa Fu brings out next and I think everyone should read this if only to learn about a war in which most people don’t know what happened in.