Sunday, February 08, 2015

Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze (1932)

Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze. Elizabeth Foreman Lewis. illustrated by William Low. 1932/2008. Square Fish. 302 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Young Fu stood on the narrow curbing before Dai's two-storied tenement in Chair-Maker's Way, Chungking, and stared about him. In the doorway, Fu Be Be, his mother, directed load-coolies in placing the household goods which she had brought from home, and anxiously examined each article as it passed before her. 

After his father dies, Young Fu and his mother move to the city of Chungking. Young Fu is eager to begin his work as an apprentice to a coppersmith, Tang. He's grateful for the opportunity. And more fortunate still that it isn't his only opportunity for learning, for their new upstairs neighbor is willing to teach him to read and write.

Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze is a coming-of-age novel. The book follows him from the age of thirteen to eighteen, I believe. I would say the book is about his adventures and misadventures growing up, but, I'm not sure adventures is the right word. It captures his experiences growing up in China in the 1920s. Sometimes the experiences are memorable for all the right reasons. Sometimes not. He makes mistakes, he does. But he acknowledges his mistakes, seeks to make restoration, and grows wiser--or at least a little wiser.

I definitely enjoyed this one. I found it interesting. The chapters were long, in my opinion, but ultimately worth it.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Kit 5:40 PM  

Hi Becky - Interesting Chinese YA novel from the 1930s. Did you know that Chungking is actually Chongqing (pronounced "chong" "ching" using "ch" in "chair")?

I have been reading books on China and Chinese culture for the past few years. Initially, I was puzzled by the differences in the English spellings for Chinese cities - now, I realized that the books written in English used Anglicized sounds. It took me a while to figure that the Empress Dowager, Tzu Chi, is actually called Ci Zi lol.

Elizabeth 9:27 AM  

I read this as a child as party of a Newbery project. Nice to see it's been re-issued.

Sarah at SmallWorld 9:40 AM  

I love this book so much! It was one of my favorite read-alouds with my kids.

Amy @ Hope Is the Word 10:08 PM  

Wow! Sounds like I need to read this one!

It sounds a little bit like (maybe?) Linda Sue Park's A Single Shard. Have you read it?

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