Edward Young was a starving Chinese child given up by his mother to save him. Taken to sea by thug pirates to be sold into slavery, he finds himself washed ashore in the state of Washington during the early 1900s. Pushed from institution to institution, Edward keeps his head low in hopes of finding his true home. When he expresses his wishes, he is then raffled off as a prize to the winning ticket. Edward would never have thought he would find a home until he was taken to the Tenderloin. When he is plunged into the Tenderloin he becomes stuck in love with two girls, with his journey just beginning. When Edward recalls all these memories to his eldest daughter, he finds a new meaning to his life, but also a hard truth his daughter never thought her family would be capable of.
One of my all-time favorite authors, Jamie Ford has painted a beautiful picture in this adventure of Edward Young. As the author of ‘Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet’, he accomplishes great feats in taking us on a journey through the eyes of a mysteriously unknown world. Jamie has a way of pulling us into a world that comes to life through his knowledge of past Oriental life and how they meshed into America. Jamie is able to express emotions that you can attach to while seeing the picture right in front of you. He paints true love, sadness, loss, happiness, excitement, and longing.
This was a pleasant read for me. The main characters felt like a breath of fresh air. They were perceived as toys or unwantable by society in the events of the book. Though they lived a harsh life and part of history, it was fun to see how survival in the Tenderloin commenced. Each character was very different, but they all wanted each other. Edward was a true gentleman and didn’t want to make a wrong move, but only enjoy the life he was given. Margaret was headstrong and devoted that didn’t trust anyone, but she always wanted to escape. Grace was spontaneous and a tease, she rarely could ever be serious and always wanted to be accepted by the house as one of the girls upstairs.
My favorite thing about this story Jamie Ford has created for us is the research behind the curtains that build the main plot and summary. Back in the early 1900s, there was a baby that was sold at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle, Washington. At that time, minorities were still treated very unfairly and had little to no rights. The background of how Jamie framed this story is what drew me towards it and kept me interested.
Our history is sometimes not the best thing we want to hear or be reminded of, but it is a shining beacon of what not to do anymore. It’s a recipe for a better future and how we have progressed, and are still trying to progress. This is why I love Jamie Ford’s books. There is a piece of history brought to my attention, relearned, and shown the happier picture of the future.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in historical fiction. It shows a side of humanity that we must live past, but never forget.