Jamie Ford is one of the few modern yet revolutionarily ambiguous writers of our time. Ford, author of powerfully insightful books such as “House on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet,” which has won incredible awards and appraisals from around the globe including but not limited to: being a New York Times bestseller and winning the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, has once again written a hard-hitting work of art – the fairly new and beautifully coherent novel: “Songs of Willow Frost. In this novel Ford makes loud connections that transcend time in the characters’ affairs with cultural beliefs, societal views, and authoritative abuse. The novel features various groundshaking themes that create professionally welded networks to the readers’ regardless of their diverse preferences of genre.
Ford can connect all these ideas and persons through his absurd penmanship and interpretations. The novel is told in the omniscient point of view where Ford swiftly glides between two protagonists: William Eng and Willow Frost (a. . a Liu Song Eng). For the duration of the novel, approximately 319 pages, both of the protagonists face headspinning internal and external conflicts. The narrator states it best as they say, “Somehow life had become a story problem, and William was horrible at math. ” (35) At times the internal and external conflict collided unusually rough so the reader can wholly experience a sudden eruption of cacophony. William’s most unrelenting conflicts came from where soul meets body – inside his heart.
His seven yearlong yearning for his heaven-sent mother, mixed with the lack of love from the dull walls of the orphanage and its prisoners, and the added sprinkle of the (later) death of his best friend all made a poisonous concoction for poor Williams heart that, him being 12 years old, was simply impossible for him to handle. Frankly, the rest of William’s conflicts were external and subpar compared to the internal ones, most of which had more to do with a lack of sustenance than anything else.
On the other hand, Willow Frost’s story is one of thorough grief; Willow’s story is where most of the external and internal conflicts collide without end. Her story is, sadly, a 3 year-old’s “rollercoaster ride. ” Willow faces the death of her mother, the rape of her step-father, the abuse of her step-father’s wife, and the loss of her first love and two children. Thankfully though, near the ending of the book was the precious resolution of their conflicts which consequently made for a beautiful denouement. Though two dynamic characters make up a key portion, they do not make up an entire novel.
It takes a setting to make a great novel, which Ford has so graciously provided for us. “Songs of Willow Frost” takes place in Seattle from the 1920s – 1930s, the same time as the “Crash,” a time of economic downfall and many were struggling to stay alive in the harsh conditions brought along by the terrible time. Ford uses vivid sensory details and imagery to paint a picture, he writes, “Through a haze of dust and coal smoke he could see the street spilling like a river onto the mudflats south of the city, where hundreds of ramshackle homes and clapboard shacks were pieced together with scrap lumber and tar paper…
As the wind blew northward he could smell sawdust, urine, and despair. ” (55-56) Through the amazing writing that included complex irony, deep symbolism, and easily understood diction Ford has composed an incredibly well – written novel. A major factor in how “Songs of Willow Frost” is so great is that it’s very relatable and that stems from the abundancy of visible truth, thus allowing an unveiling of moments that can be related to by different persons, as well as the element of two relatively different protagonists, which allows for a greater spectrum of relatability.
I was originally interested in the culture and society of Seattle in the early 1900s as told from an oriental point of view rather than from an African-American, which is what dominates the history portions of novels written about or during that time, and as I continued to read I began really relating to the novel and its universal themes such as: the abuse of power, effects of the past, or beating the odds.
I enjoyed how easily | could lose myself in the novel; after what I thought was only minutes turned out to be hours and before I knew it, it was early the next morning and all I wanted to do was keep reading. Personally, reading this novel was the exact definition of being swept away and taken into it because most times I completely left reality and if it was the middle of the day in the novel, I would truly believe it was the middle of the day in reality! I felt every moment.
Except usually, when Willow felt sadness, I was angry mostly from a lack of understanding of why she continued to live through societal views and while talking to my culturally and ethnically diverse groupmates at CHS some didn’t feel angry at all, some felt satisfaction or even pride, and that just goes to show that this novel is more revolutionary than most can see. A lot of people see this as just another story, but it can unite a wide range of people and create conflict and discussion, but most of all it creates knowledge, certainly more knowledge than we can consciously verify.
I would not change a single punctuation mark at this time. “Songs of Willow Frost” was, overall, just an invigorating novel that not only entertained but also taught. But this is honestly not a novel, it’s a work of art; it is exceeding well – detailed and is completely open to interpretation, while also allowing for self – transcendence, which is very crucial for conscious and unconscious humanistic development in love and knowledge. Especially in the ending paragraphs are a few huge lessons taught, and since knowledge is the point of this essay, leave with this: