This book is wonderfully descriptive, has a main character that I really empathized with, and teaches its readers about the sacrifices we make and the cosmic coincidences of the world. Built into the foundation of this story is one about the choices and sacrifices we make for our livelihood, family, and out of duty.
Dragon Springs Road is an enchanting tale of Jialing, a Eurasian girl, who lives in a country that does not accept and outwardly is discriminatory against. Once abandoned, her life becomes one of chance and opportunity as she must rely on the kindness of new tenants. Relying on a few close friends Anjuin and her spirit fox, Jialing learns that the world is treacherous and cruel as actions set forth a murder plot which has the potential to destroy her friendships and family.
Jialing is a fantastic character. We get to see her grow up and mature. Compelling and moving, her constant hope to find her mother is touching and this vulnerability helps you connect to her. That is not the only reason though. Her growing up process and exposure to fate and the whims of the land owners causes us to ache with her, to cry with her, and to feel her pain. She is incredibly clever, determined, and resilient. At times it feels like the whole world is against her and she has no options. This is not far from the truth. Her ethnicity and physical appearance greatly limits her life. The descriptions of this aspect of her life are both interesting and illuminating. It is essential to her identity and explored well in the novel.
“How could anyone live, even an immortal, without giving in to love?” (330)
The book has an absolutely vivid atmosphere that is mostly because of the gorgeous descriptions of the Fox’s adventures. Coming alive easily, we are transported into the mind of the foxes, on the street of Shanghai, and in the missionary classroom. Her friendship and relationship with the fox is touching, but also satisfying. It is a deep friendship of understanding, trust, and love. What is incredibly refreshing about the book is that it not centered around romance.
“I don’t believe in happy endings. It’s enough to feel life so intensely. Happiness that makes your heart twist in pain, Jialing, the exquisite pain of knowing such happiness will end” (312)
Dragon Springs Road is a beautiful story about friendship and family. One that deals with the mystery and pain of a mother’s abandonment (which touched me deeply), the discrimination Jialing faces every day, and the sacrifices she must make. It is incredibly deep and while there are moments where the direction is unclear, trust in the Chang, she will lead you to where you need to go. The plot comes together at the end in dazzling and unexpected colors. This is a book I have not begun recommending enough and one that I desperately want to talk more about. I highly recommend this novel to any Amy Tan fans (the mother daughter relationship reminded me of The Valley of Amazement), those who are curious about discrimination in China, and those who love a complex main character.
If you could have a spirit animal companion, what animal would it be?
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