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The Jade Peony

A Novel
Choy, Wayson (Book - 1997)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Jade Peony
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Chinatown, Vancouver, in the late 1930s and '40s provides the backdrop for this poignant first novel, told through the vivid reminiscences of the three younger children of an immigrant Chinese family. The siblings grapple with their individual identities in a changing world, wresting autonomy from the strictures of history, family, and poverty. Sister Jook-Liang dreams of becoming Shirley Temple and escaping the rigid, old ways of China. Adopted Second Brother Jung-Sum, struggling with his sexuality and the trauma of his childhood in China, finds his way through boxing. Third Brother Sekky, who never feels comfortable with the multitude of Chinese dialects swirling around him, becomes obsessed with war games, and learns a devastating lesson about what war really means when his 17-year-old babysitter dates a Japanese man. Mingling with life in Canada and the horror of war are the magic, ghosts, and family secrets of Poh-Poh, or Grandmother, who is the heart and pillar of the family. Side by side, her three grandchildren survive hardships and heartbreaks with grit and humor. Like the jade peony of the title, Choy's storytelling is at once delicate, powerful, and lovely. 100 Most Important Books in Canadian History in 2005. It was also an American Library Association Notable Book of the Year in 1998, and was winner of the 1995 Trillium Award (shared with Margaret Atwood).
Authors: Choy, Wayson, 1939-
Title: The jade peony
a novel
Publisher: New York : Picador, 1997
Edition: 1st Picador USA ed
Characteristics: 238 p. ;,22 cm
Statement of Responsibility: Wayson Choy
ISBN: 1590512162
9781590512169
0312155565
Branch Call Number: FICTION CHOY
Subject Headings: Chinese British Columbia Vancouver Island History Fiction Chinese Canada Fiction Chinatown (Vancouver, B.C.) Fiction Brothers and sisters Fiction Vancouver (B.C.) Juvenile fiction Poor families Fiction
Genre/Form: Domestic fiction
Topical Term: Chinese
Chinese
Brothers and sisters
Poor families
LCCN: 97000801
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Vancouver, in the late 1930s and '40s provides the backdrop for this poignant first novel, told through the vivid reminiscences of the three younger children of an immigrant Chinese family.


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Sep 27, 2013
  • Eil_1 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

This book evolves around the experiences of the lives of 3 Chinese children, Grandmother, 'Stepmother' and Father in Vancouver during the 20's and 30's. It was an enlightening and excellent story - mixed equally with humor, love and Family values. The sequel is also definitely even more engrossing.

Jun 17, 2013
  • WVMLBookClubTitles rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Choy’s first novel reads like a memoir and is a collection of stories about a family living in Vancouver’s Chinatown before and during World War II. Three siblings experience very different childhoods as they grow up amongst the strict structures of a traditional Chinese family struggling with poverty and a rapidly changing world. Sister Jook-Liang is entranced by her hero Shirley Temple, while her adopted brother Jung-Sum struggles with his sexuality and their brother Sekky becomes obsessed with war games. Stepmother is a house servant and concubine who gradually assumes the role of mother but can never achieve full status in the home. The complexity of the extended family is beautifully portrayed by Choy and his descriptions of wartime Vancouver are memorable.

Jun 08, 2012
  • jvanderg rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Excellent novel deals with so many important topics. Not only that, it gives a glimpse into life in Vancouver during the 30s and 40s.

May 05, 2011
  • snowspirit1 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Must read!

Mar 31, 2011
  • vwruleschick rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

It is a story told from three different perspectives that are all children of a Chinese immigrant family in Vancouver BC before and during WWII and how they are coping with a new culture, language and they fit in whilst their traditional Grandma (Poh Poh) is trying to ensure her grandchildren honour their heritage and culture and not be assimilated to their new country. A short read.

Oct 29, 2010
  • andieallie rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

This book greatly illustrates the poverty and discrimination that the Chinese-Canadians went through during the Depression. Each character longs to be accepted in their own way, but it's all tied together.

The language was a little difficult for me to understand; there's a lot of similies and metaphors, but if you don't struggle with descriptive vocabulary, it's a really good read.

Jul 29, 2010
  • dliew3 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Great book, really tackles many issues related with identity and what it means to be Chinese-Canadian. The historical backdrop of Vancouver during WWII to really adds to the story but never draws away from the characters themselves.

Jun 26, 2010
  • macierules rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

One of the 2 finalists in the Canada Reads 2010 competition losing to Nikolski. Authentic-feeling Chinese immigrant experience set in Vancouver during the 2nd world war. I liked it a lot more than Lisa See's Shanghai Girls.

Feb 01, 2010
  • AureliaReads rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Lovely, touching, poignant.
Very beautiful book, with interesting structure.

Reminded me of Shanghai Girls. Interesting to compare the two books.

This would make a good winner for Canada Reads 2010, but I'm still hoping for Nikolski to win.

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Apr 30, 2010
  • vegbrarian rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

vegbrarian thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Aug 06, 2008
  • pie rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

pie thinks this title is suitable for 7 years and over

Summary

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Three Chinese Canadian siblings tell the story of their very different childhoods in Vancouvers's Chinatown before and during World War II.

Aug 06, 2008
  • pie rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Story of the life of a Chinese immigrant family through the eyes of second brother, third brother and only sister. It follows many aspects of Chinese tradition, such as superstition, while touching upon the war between China and Japan.

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Aug 06, 2008
  • pie rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I die soon!

Aug 05, 2008
  • pie rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I die soon!

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Samantha Nutt discusses The Jade Peony

CBC Canada Reads celebrity panelist, Dr. Samantha Nutt, discusses her choice, The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy

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