BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Forget Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale by Belle Yang

Forget SorrowAlready lauded for her exquisitely illustrated family stories – Baba: A Return to China Upon My Father’s Shoulders, The Odyssey of a Manchurian, as well as numerous children’s titles – Yang debuts her first-ever graphic memoir, a multi-layered creation that details her own story of becoming an artist/writer finely interwoven with the family tales her father shares with her.

Gravely threatened by an abusive, dangerous stalker boyfriend soon after college, Yang and her parents are forced to drastically readjust their lives. Yang finds temporary escape in China, where she immerses herself in traditional Chinese traditional painting. One of her teachers there is Deng Lin, the daughter of Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. Wandering and sketching the wide country, Yang meets the scattered relatives who will help reconstruct the challenging lives of her extended ancestors when she returns home to the California coast.

Day after day, night after night, Yang listens to her father tell his captivating stories, from the family’s epic beginnings as “the dregs of Chinese society” as butchers and opera singers to prominent members of the landed scholar-gentry class, to the fraternal fighting that eventually shatters the family’s landed position, to their near destruction during the 20th-century Communist terror. Yang draws strength from her ancestors, finding her own power to claim the very unique voice someone else tried so hard to destroy.

Yang, whose Chinese name Xuan means “forget sorrow,” was presciently named by her storyteller father … in hoping to forget his own sorrow of familial suffering as he delights in the promise of his daughter, so too, does that daughter learn to finally let her own sorrows go by creating a memorable testament to that ancestral past. With her latest title, Yang has most definitely found a medium that perfectly blends her many talents, creating a most unforgettable feast for us lucky readers.

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2010


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