Tuesday, May 31

Book Review: Petals From the Sky

Title: Petals From the Sky

Author: Mingmei Yip

Pages: 338

Summary: When twenty-year-old Meng Ning declares that she wants to be a Buddhist nun, her mother is aghast. In her eyes, a nun's life means only deprivation - "no freedom, no love, no meat." But to Meng Ning, it means the chance to control her own destiny, and to live in an oasis of music, art and poetry far from her parents' unhappy union.
With an enigmatic nun known as Yi Kong "Depending on Emptiness," as her mentor, Meng Ning spends the next ten years studying abroad, disdaining men, and preparing to enter the nunnery. Then, a fire breaks out at her Buddhist retreat, and Meng Ning is carried to safety by Michael Fuller, a young American doctor. The unprecedented physical contact stirs her curiosity. And as their tentative friendship grows intimate, Meng Ning realizes she must choose between the sensual and the spiritual life.

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Overall, I enjoyed the book. It wasn't exactly what I expected, but it was an enjoyable, well written read.

I enjoyed the author's writing style and story telling ability. I found that I was interested in what she had to say throughout the book, even if the story itself wasn't what I was expecting, and seemed to pulling in multiple different directions. I enjoyed the cultural aspects tied into the book, along with the story of self discovery and self examination. And the small glimse into Buddhism was well done.

But, the was a large part of it, that didn't work for me. I found the character development to be all over the place, and maybe even a bit force - things just didn't flow well together. I also couldn't really connect to the characters and I wasn't a big fan of Michael. I found it hard to see what Meng Ning saw in him. On the other hand, I did enjoy the relationship between Meng Ning and her mother - that was one relationship and development that I did find to be well done.
Overall, the characters and their development may not have been the best, and the story wasn't exactly what I expected, but I did find it to be well written and told - with a lovely background of the Chinese culture.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. It's not exactly what I expected, but it is an interesting story. I enjoyed the background and cultural tidbit more than anything else.

What to read next: I'd read more books by the author. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Challenges: 11 in 11, 100+ Challenge, 2011 Countdown Challenge, A - Z Challenge, Global Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge, Spring Reading Challenge,


  1. I'd wondered about this one, and really appreciate your objective discussion. I'll keep your thoughts in mind if I finally decide to try it.

  2. Tina - It may be worth a read, it's just not exactly what I expected. It doesn't seem to be very favourable on goodreads/librarything, but I do think it's better than most make it out to be.