"The Third Son", by Julie Wu

The Third Son - Julie Wu
This novel is the debut novel for Ms. Wu, a vision she had years ago of a little boy in Taiwan. After years pushing words around it finally was published. Her best source was her father’s vivid memories of his unhappy childhood. He became Saburo Tong, the third son in this beautifully written fiction.

The family saga begins in 1943 when the Americans bombed Japanese occupied Taiwan and effortlessly we slip into Saburo’s world, an emotional journey, where he is cruelly made the scapegoat of his family. With great authority Ms. Wu depicts the tumultuous and violent period of Taiwanese history when one autocracy replaces another. The riveting blend of lives governed by family tradition and culture and the determination of boy to free himself makes one of the most beautifully written story I have read in a very long time. The story has two parts: the first takes place from 1943-1957 in Taiwan and part two is the adult part: takes place from 1957-1962 with Saburo in the USA.

The tone of the novel isn't melancholy but optimistic and gay. Not only the plot is well developed we have a compelling themes of sibling rivalry and romance. In addition the characters are well- defined and believable and it easy to cheer for Saburo, dislike his family, and admire his virtuous girlfriend. I love books written in the first person, it is deeply effective. 

This book is a page-turner, a rich and luxurious read I enjoyed immensely.