Last year I was able to review Selina Siak Chin Yoke’s first novel that followed the entrepreneurial Chye Hoon. Mei Foong, Chye Hoon’s Chinese daughter-in-law, is the star of this book, and it is every inch the powerful female tale the first installment was.
You ever feel like you’ve lost your voice? Not literally, but have you found yourself in situations in which you could have fought back, but had to swallow it instead? This is not an uncommon situation for women, ancient and modern. And it is the underlying struggle of our heroine.
Her journey to know that she and what she thinks matters is heart-breaking and set against the problems of an occupied population. WWII has brought Japanese to take over Malaya, and their previous occupants, the British, have fled. Violence, bombs, poverty become everyday predators, and Mei Foong weathers these like a mother would, like a warrior. And against all of that, this is her story of slow rising and realization.
I’d recommend this is any historical fiction fan, especially since Malaysian tales are in short supply. All the details will transport you to the land where the sun can heat your hair warm to the touch in the early afternoons in no time at all.
But, more than that, this should be read by women who have felt silenced. Silenced by fate, by bad company, by circumstance. I was moved to crying twice while reading it, and that is not something that often happens. The previous book, too, contained such painfully familiar trauma that you can’t help but weep. But that is a good thing and the mark of a story that is telling something important.
Don’t miss this one.
It bears mentioning that you won’t be lost if you grab this novel first before book one. “When the Future Comes Too Soon” can stand on its own without any trouble. It was extra special to read the continuing story of this amazing family when I recognized a few of the memories, but I think you could start with either.
With book one, I found a quote from the text that really summed up the feeling of the story, the impact it had on me. So, I’ll do the same here, with book two.
“I know now that I was simply pretending. I pretended to be strong and, in the act of pretending, discovered a reservoir of strength I never realised I had.” -Mei Foong