Following the theme "Recommended by Friends" reads of 2016, I have decided to review my fourth recommended read of the year, Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang.
Wild Swans is the story of the author's life growing up as a child and young adult in communist China, her mother's life fighting for China as a communist with her husband, and her mother's life as an escaped concubine of a general in the Chinese military. Although their upbringings and lives are extremely different in many ways, these three generations of women all have two things in common; strength and courage.
In biographical form, Wild Swans is breathtaking, gut-wrenching, and brutal in the rawest form, but you will wrap up your overall reading experience feeling sated and satisfied.
I know many readers are not too crazy about biographies and autobiographies, but I find them fascinating. Especially Wild Swans. Jung Chang's writing is so rich and dense with powerful details, it is easy to lose yourself in every single word inked on to the paper.
I can understand some readers saying that the story is dry, and that they got bored easily when Ms Chang would delve into details about Chairman Mao's political itinerary, but I found each and every uncovered tidbit about communist China extremely gripping. This was a part of history I had yet to discover. But instead of forcing myself to sit down with a history book that would surely have bored me to tears, I was transported back in time to experience life with Ms Chang's own mother and grandmother.
There are some books that can easily be equated to cotton candy. They're insubstantial, but very light and sweet to devour. If that's the case with, say, books like vampire novels (that I freely admit to loving as well), then Jung Chang's Wild Swans is a T-Bone steak with sauteed kale, mashed potatoes, and a hot fudge sundae for dessert.