Monday, April 5

Book Review: A Thread of Sky

Title: A Thread of Sky

Author: Deanna Fei

Pages: 351

Summary: A thread of sky is the story of a family of women and the powerful thread that binds their lives. In following the paths chosen by six fiercely independent women, A Thread of Sky explores the terrain we must travel to recognize the strength and vulnerability of those closest to us. When her husband of thirty years is killed in a devastating accident, Irene Shen and her three daughters are set adrift. Nora, the eldest, retreats into her high-powered New York job and a troubled relationship. Kay, the headstrong middle child, escapes to China to learn the language and heritage of her parents. Sophie, the sensitive and artistic youngest, is trapped at home until college, increasingly estranged from her family - and herself. Terrified of being left alone with her grief, Irene plans a tour of mainland China’s must sees, reuniting three generations of women - her three daughters, her distant poet sister,, and her formidable eight-year old mother - in a desperate attempt to heal her fractured family.

If only it was so easy. Each woman arrives bearing secrets big and small, and as they travel - visiting untouched sections of the Great Wall and the seedy bars of Shanghai, the beautiful ancient temples and cold, modern shopping emporiums - they begin to wonder if they will ever find the China they seek, the one their family fled long ago.

Over days and miles they slowly find their way toward a new understanding of themselves, of one another and the vast complexity of their homeland, only to have their new bonds tested as never before when the darkest, most carefully guarded secret of all spirals to the surface and threatens to tear their family apart forever.

My Rating: 8.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I’m finding it hard to sum up this book, because it has so many layers, most of which I enjoyed until the end, it’s hard to figure out where to begin. This book is an excellent example of women’s fiction at it’s finest. The books characters are six women, all who are stubborn, complex women, who are trying to (or have tried to in the past) make a difference in the world around them. The book is a very character driven book, it spends most of the time building up information of the women’s lives, during the past both distant and moments before the big trip and it continues throughout the trip. The book takes time to focus on each of the women, their thoughts, their emotions and what has caused them to be the person they are during the trip (although it stays in a third person narrative the entire time). I loved this aspect of the book, because it created such complex characters, that the reader was really able to learn about, get to know and become attached to. But at the same time, I found it to be a little confusing at times, because there was no indication of when the author would switch to a different character. There was usually a page break or an end of the chapter, but sometimes even then it was hard to see who the author was speaking about. Overall, the characters are what made the book. There were two characters I just didn’t care for as much as the others (the aunt, Susan and the youngest sister, Sophie). But other than the two characters (and they didn’t really ruin anything in the book for me, I just didn’t connect to them) and the at times confusing narrative, there are very few things at fault with the book.

Another aspect of the book I enjoyed was the glimpses of the hardships Chinese-Americans experience, both in America and in China when they returned/visited. The author gave a very real glimpse at what they go through, and how they feel they have even more barriers to break through, not only because they are woman, but because they are Chinese woman, who have very horrible stereotypes placed on their heads. Even when the middle sister Kay, is in China learning more about her roots, she still doesn’t seem to fit in. She’s not Chinese enough to be considered a Native, but back in America she’s a Chinese-American, who even though she was born in the states, is constantly asked “where are you from?” The author did an incredible job at bring home the hardships many such as Kay and her family are faced with. The book really does focus on women, their lives, their attempts to break through barriers and step out of stereotypes placed on them. Wonderful book!

Would I recommend it to read: Highly recommend it to read! I think it's a great choice for the women unbound challenge, and if you enjoy Asian Literature (or maybe this might technially fall into Asian-American? Is there a difference?) it's also a great choice. Either way, I think it's a wonderful book, and an enjoyable read.

What to read next: Miss Chopsticks - Xinran

Challenges: Read 'n' Review, Pages Read, 10/10 Challenge, 100+ Challenge,
A - Z Challenge, Countdown Challenge, RYOB Challenge, Women Unbound Challenge

This is a LibraryThings Early Reviewers Book. The book debuts on April, 5 2010 (same date as the post)


  1. Wonderful review! This does sound like something I would really like. I also tend to really like Asian or Asian- American fiction, as well as women's fiction, so this book hits all the high points for me. I will definitely be looking into grabbing a copy. It sounds amazing! Yours is actually the first review I have seen, and I think you did a great job!

  2. I think I can somewhat identify with Kay - guess I'll find out after reading this based on your review :)

  3. Zibilee - glad you enjoyed it, hopefully you'll get a chance to read it soon. Lately I've really been enjoying Asian/Asian-American etc Lit. So I keep hunting for more titles.

    Christa - I hope you enjoy it. Kay is an interesting character. Thanks for stopping by.