Book Reviews

Review: A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh & Elsie Chapman

To say A Thousand Beginnings and Endings touched me on a profound level is a vast understatement. A Thousand Beginnings and Endings is the type of book I want to gift everyone. My future children, my extended family, all my friends need to read this book.

Summary

Fifteen bestselling and acclaimed authors reimagine the folklore and mythology of East and South Asia in short stories that are by turns enchanting, heartbreaking, romantic, and passionate.

Compiled by We Need Diverse Books’s Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman, the authors included in this exquisite collection are: Renee Ahdieh, Sona Charaipotra, Preeti Chhibber, Roshani Chokshi, Aliette de Bodard, Melissa de la Cruz, Julie Kagawa, Rahul Kanakia, Lori M. Lee, E. C. Myers, Cindy Pon, Aisha Saeed, Shveta Thakrar, and Alyssa Wong.

A mountain loses her heart. Two sisters transform into birds to escape captivity. A young man learns the true meaning of sacrifice. A young woman takes up her mother’s mantle and leads the dead to their final resting place. From fantasy to science fiction to contemporary, from romance to tales of revenge, these stories will beguile readers from start to finish.

Review

book review a thousand beginnings and endings edited by ellen oh and elsie chapman(Disclaimer: I received this free book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

This anthology is everything to me. Growing up, I didn’t have many sources of representation. I never had access to any Asian fairy tales. Sure I knew of the Brothers Grim and Anderson’s fairy tales, but I never was connected to my heritage in this way, in the way I knew how – through stories. Being adopted in an all white family was hard for a lot of reasons. There were tons of problems, ways I felt misunderstood, but also things that I just couldn’t explain.

Not having a connection to my heritage through stories, through voices, through oral storytelling was something I never had the language to express. I never knew how much literature would touch my life till college. I didn’t learn about representation or diverse reads until then. When I began blogging, it opened up a whole new world for me. A world of books that intrinsically just got me. And finding these diverse titles, diverse pieces of fiction, just clicked. They spoke to me, became my friends, and told me I had a space within them. They had a space for me.

But there was always a part that hadn’t clicked yet – through fairy tales. Having written a few papers about the evolution of some of the classic fairy tales, to say I’m interested in this subject is an understatement. But I was missing this crucial piece – a connection to cultures, to a heritage, I had no idea how to reel in. I could talk in length about other challenges, other ways I felt barred, but in this very essential way my whole life, it seems, I was searching for this book.

Overall,

Sure it’s diverse, and fascinating, and wonderfully written. The stories are complex, the utmost care brought to how they interact (and improve, or diverge from) with the source material. But on a very real, a visceral, deeply emotional level, it also feels like a piece of me too in a way I’m not sure much else does in the same way. I love how these re-tellings offer something new and still appeal to the base of what these fairy tales approach – not only a sense of wonder but also a lesson we could learn. Find A Thousand Beginnings and Endings on Goodreads.

Discussion

What is the most influential book in your life to date?

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