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Peach Blossom Spring


Peach Blossom Spring

“On the evening of the Lunar New Year, Henry sits at his desk with a half-finished letter for Meilin. For months, he has been trying to find his way around his new language with a frozen tongue. He reaches for his Chinese-English dictionary. It is as thick and heavy as a brick. The thin pages sound like moth’s wings as he flips back and forth, looking for words to understand this kind of cold.”

Life is never easy for an immigrant --- the breadth of things to learn; the new culture, language, foods and mores; the buildings; the media. In September 1960, Henry Dao, who as a child was brought to the U.S. as a refugee from China, tries to make his way through another new landscape. PEACH BLOSSOM SPRING is a beautiful debut novel that focuses on one man’s attempt to forget where he has come from and his daughter’s insistence on understanding it.

"PEACH BLOSSOM SPRING is told in a simple and deliberate tone, which truly allows us to see the humanity in each character’s story and relate to it."

It's 1938 in China, and young wife Meilin’s future is bright. However, the encroachment of the Japanese army forces her to get herself and her four-year-old son, Renshu, to safety over their country’s borders. With a beautifully illustrated hand scroll their only belonging, a book filled with ancient fables that offer them solace and wisdom, they set out on a difficult journey towards refuge.

Renshu, now Henry, wonders how to keep his family safe in this new land as his former life and all that comes with it threatens to drag them into a whole mess of trouble. His daughter, Lily, feels as if she can only know who she is by understanding all those who came before her. Whose needs are more important or weigh more intensely on the family going into the future?

Melissa Fu ponders the questions of home in this forceful and compelling family generational saga. What does it mean to belong somewhere? Where is home really if you run from one place to another? From the Second Sino-Japanese War through World War II and the Communist Revolution, and then into a time of revolutionary change in America, PEACH BLOSSOM SPRING follows Meilin, Henry and Lily as they suffer and rejoice within an immigrant experience that wears on each generation in a new way.

“I guess the thing about Peach Blossom Spring is that if you are fortunate enough to find it, you are also unfortunate, because then you have to decide what to do. Do you stay, and forego all else? Or do you return home, with the understanding that you’ll never find it again? Is it a blessing? Or is it a curse?” The fables that travel from generation to generation offer more questions than answers as the family evolves and grows, reaching back into the ancestry of its members in order to learn different ways in which to cope with the inevitable search for a true home.

The suffering that Meilin and her baby endure, and the racism that Henry and Lily experience in the U.S., are sad and uncomfortable to read about, especially when we know that what they are feeling and coping with will just evolve into a new outright hate in 21st-century America.

PEACH BLOSSOM SPRING is told in a simple and deliberate tone, which truly allows us to see the humanity in each character’s story and relate to it. Fu’s words are often infused with a poetic grace that belies the strength of her characters, their convictions and their attempts to overcome the obstacles in their way. They are all striving to create a place for themselves in the world. May this book open us to thoughts of compassion and love for those who are currently running for their lives and looking for refuge around the world.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on March 25, 2022

Peach Blossom Spring
by Melissa Fu

  • Publication Date: February 28, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books
  • ISBN-10: 0316286877
  • ISBN-13: 9780316286879