(Review) Nothing Is Forgotten by Peter Golden

Nothing Is Forgotten

Publisher and Publication Date: Atria Books. April 10, 2018.
Genre: Historical Fiction.
Pages: 352.
Source: Complimentary hardcover copy from Peter Golden and Atria Books for this review. I was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Excellent.

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Peter Golden
Author Bio:
Peter Golden is an award-winning journalist, historian, and novelist who has written nine books and interviewed Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Bush (41); Secretaries of State Kissinger, Haig, Shultz, and Eagleburger; Israeli Prime Ministers Rabin, Peres, and Shamir; and Soviet President Gorbachev. His first novel, Comeback Love, was praised by the novelist and reviewer Caroline Leavitt as an “extraordinary debut.” Wherever There Is Light, his second novel, was featured in New York Magazine’s Fall Preview issue, widely reviewed, and selected by the New Jersey Star-Ledger as one of the best books of 2016. His third novel, Nothing Is Forgotten, which explores the connection between the Holocaust and the Cold War, will be published on April 10, 2018.
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Summary:
Late 1950s. South Orange, New Jersey.
Michael Daniels is a recent graduate from high school. He is the “Mad Russian” for a radio station. His satire and music is popular in New Jersey and across the ocean to USSR. His Russian-Jewish grandmother who runs the family candy store is found murdered. Michael can’t understand how his beloved grandmother could die in this horrific act. A chance to travel to Europe, and in working to solve the mystery of his grandmother, Michael finds out his grandmother had been preserving another life.

My Thoughts:

What I love about this story:
1. Michael’s sharp sarcasm and voice. Reminds me of his age, era, and the place where he lived.
2. Michael is an intelligent fellow. He is not a nerd. He does not come across as a know-it- all. He is fluent in several languages. He is street smart. He is observant of his surroundings and the people.
3. Peter Golden is simply a great storyteller. I think this is a great book to hear on audio.
4. I loved reading about how the family came to America; and later the circumstances not known in the beginning of the book.
5. History is weaved into the book. For example: John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
6. I love the time period. It is just before the Beatles. It is before America became involved in the Vietnam War. It is before Nixon and Watergate. Rock n Roll is in its infant stages. The fear and angst of communism is shown in the time period.
7. Yulianna Kosoy is a character who lives in USSR. I like her. She is a savvy person. She is a remarkable person. At her introduction, I felt she showed a “whatever” attitude towards certain activities. I believe this is apart of her persona of living life on the edge.
8. I love the unique career of Michael. I’ve not read another story where the character is a jockey of a radio station. Actually, he is the lone operator.
9. I love pulling the history of World War II, Holocaust, post war, communism, spying, espionage, romance, family saga, CIA, mystery, travel, art, and early 1960s culture into one book.
10. The story has a solid finish.

 

 

 

 

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(Review) Song Of Praise for a Flower: One Woman’s Journey through China’s Tumultuous 20th Century by Fengxian Chu, contributor Charlene Chu

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Publisher and Publication Date: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. November 2017.
Genre: Nonfiction, autobiography.
Pages: 488.
Source: Complementary paperback copy from Charlene Chu and Author Marketing Expert. I was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Excellent.

At this time, the book is free through Amazon Kindle Unlimited: Song of Praise for a Flower. 

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Co-author Charlene Chu, Fengxian’s first cousin, grew up in the United States and wrote the English rendering of Song of Praise for a Flower. A financial analyst well-known for her work on China’s economy and financial sector, she is quoted widely in the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Bloomberg, Business Insider and other media outlets. She holds an MBA and MA in International Relations from Yale University. “Song of Praise for a Flower” is her first book. Charlene splits her time between Washington, DC and Hong Kong.

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Back cover shares the summary of book.

Fengxian Chu is now 92 years old. She was born in the 1920’s and this is the start of the book. She began to write out the story of her life in 1989 and completed it in 1992. The manuscript waited for a reading audience until Charlene Chu, a cousin from America, came to visit Fengxian in hopes of finding historical information about her family. Charlene contributed to the book, making historical corrections or filling in the blank on certain events. The book is equal parts written by Fengxian and Charlene. Fengxian is the voice and topic of the story.

Several reasons led me to give Song of Praise for a Flower an excellent rating.

•A detailed life account of the narrator, in both the logistics of living in China during the 20th century, and her thoughts and feelings.

•A brief history of the Hunan Province, including the geography of the landscape. Later, Guangdong Province is less remarked on by way of a history or geography lesson; instead, it is shown in the daily life of the narrator.

•The society and culture in China is a huge overarching theme in the book. There is a lengthy list of various topics under the heading of society and culture but these are a few: foot binding with women, prejudice between the different provinces in China, communism, family saga, relationships between husbands and wives, relationships between parents and children, family history, education, poverty, gender equality versus feudal, and opium addiction.

•An intriguing aspect of the story is communism. Fengxian Chu has (I think this is the right word) “adapted” to communism. She believes in the Communist Party despite the horrors and abuse of the early years. She feels communism has been good for women. Charlene Chu addresses this issue in brief in the “Afterword” section.

•Over a period of years various reforms took impact in China. The Communist Party pushed agricultural reforms, anti-religious reforms, education reforms, and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. All of these are explored in the book.

•Another interesting aspect of the story is the beliefs of luck, good fate or bad fate, good is rewarded and evil is punished.

Song of Praise for a Flower shows the remarkable life of Fengxian Chu. She represents Chinese women during this period who survived (and also died) during the horrors of the Japanese threat of 1930s and World War IIthe war between nationalists and communistscommunism, a changing society and culture, and extreme poverty.

“Now, in the final season of my life, I see that each of us is given only one chance at life. We must take advantage of every opportunity that life presents. For when we do not truly live, life loses its meaning.” Fengxian Chu.

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Pearl River in China

(Review) Choices: The True Story of One Family’s Daring Escape to Freedom by J.E. Laufer

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Publisher and Publication Date: Little Egg Publishing Company. May 15, 2017.
Genre: Nonfiction, memoir, novella.
Pages: 116.
Source: Complimentary paperback copy from Little Egg Publishing Company and Smith Publicity. I was not required to leave a positive review.
Rating: Excellent.

A map of Europe is included for the time period of the 1950s.

Seven family photographs are located at the end of the book.

Choices is a novella, and a story for both adult and young adult readers.

For more information from the publisher about the book: Choices.

Summary:
J.E. Laufer has written a true story of her family’s escape from communist Hungary post World War II and the Hungarian Revolution. She was age two when the family left. She has an older brother named Gyorgy. Their parents names are Adolf and Kati Egett.
The story centers on the love and sacrifice the parents made for their beloved children.

The time period is the mid 1950s. Adolf and Kati Egett are aware of people leaving the communist country of Hungary. Some of the people leaving are known to them. People are afraid to tell anyone they are leaving. Some people leave with only the clothes they wear. Adolf and Kati contemplate leaving. They want a safe and secure future for their children. They hate to leave family, friends, job, and home. The escape itself is difficult and risky.

My Thoughts:
I love big books. I love long stories. I love a well-developed story and characters. Choices is a small book. A small package with 116 pages of written material. Before I began reading, I wondered, will Laufer be able to share this important story in so few of pages? The answer is yes!
I love this story!
I did not know anything about life in Hungary post World War II and after the country became communist. I have been given a glimpse of what the people endured.
Several reason led me to give Choices an excellent rating:
1. The story builds with anticipation as to what Adolf and Kati will do. Will they leave Hungary? How will they escape?
2. The story shows the dramatic events of leaving Hungary. Several questions are answered about their defection:
-how much money do they take and what it is spent on?
-how do they dress for the trip and what belongings do they take?
-who do they trust on the journey and who do they tell before leaving?
-how do they keep their children calm and quiet?
-what will they do until they can work and earn money?
-how will they leave Europe?
3. Kati reflects on the story of her experiences during the Holocaust.
4. A teenage girl is met on their journey. She takes a risk in helping them. They took a risk in trusting her. The relationship is tantamount to their survival.
5. The love expressed between Adolf and Kati. They have commitment and tenderness towards one another. They show patience and self-control. One does not make a decision without the other. I feel they are a beautiful example of a marriage and family.