The Third Son: A Novel

The Third Son: A Novel

4.8 5
by Julie Wu
     
 

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In the middle of a terrifying air raid?in Japanese-occupied Taiwan, Saburo, the least-favored son of a Taiwanese politician, runs through a peach forest for cover. It’s there that he stumbles upon Yoshiko, whose descriptions of her loving family are to Saburo like a glimpse of paradise. Meeting her is a moment he will remember forever, and for years he will

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Overview

In the middle of a terrifying air raid?in Japanese-occupied Taiwan, Saburo, the least-favored son of a Taiwanese politician, runs through a peach forest for cover. It’s there that he stumbles upon Yoshiko, whose descriptions of her loving family are to Saburo like a glimpse of paradise. Meeting her is a moment he will remember forever, and for years he will try to find her again. When he finally does, she is by the side of his oldest brother and greatest rival.

Set in a tumultuous and violent period of Taiwanese history—as the Chinese Nationalist Army lays claim to the island and one autocracy replaces another—and the fast-changing American West of the late 1950s and early 1960s, The Third Son is a richly textured story of lives governed by the inheritance of family and the legacy of culture, and of a young man determined to free himself from both.

In Saburo, debut author Julie Wu has created an extraordinary character who is determined to fight for everything he needs and wants, from food to education to his first love. A sparkling and moving story, it will have readers cheering for a young boy with his head in the clouds who, against all odds, finds himself on the frontier? of America’s space program.

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Editorial Reviews

Reviews
“A boy growing up in Japanese-occupied Taiwan in the 1940s will do anything to escape his tormenting family and reconnect with his first love in this compelling work of fiction.” —O: The Oprah Magazine

“A stunningly pure and inspiring love story . . . Deeply compelling.” —The Boston Globe

“Wu's debut novel is an appealing coming-of-age story packed with vivid historical detail.” —The Christian Science Monitor

“Wu presents an alluring story that hits all the right emotional buttons and maintains readers’ empathy from the first page to the last.” —Kirkus Reviews

“You may have read other Asian American historical novels, but you've never read anything like Julie Wu's affecting and emotional The Third Son. It's one of the don't-miss books of the year.” —Beth Fish Reads

“With great authority and skill, Wu depicts not just the grand events of the era, such as the Kuomintang (KMT)'s arrival in Taiwan and the brutal occupation that followed, but also the small, private moments of life . . . The Third Son should be the start of a very successful writing career for Julie Wu, and I hope she will not need long to write her next novel—I'm excited to read it.” —Fiction Writers Review

From the Publisher
“A boy growing up in Japanese-occupied Taiwan in the 1940s will do anything to escape his tormenting family and reconnect with his first love in this compelling work of fiction.” —O: The Oprah Magazine

“A stunningly pure and inspiring love story . . . Deeply compelling.” —The Boston Globe

“Wu's debut novel is an appealing coming-of-age story packed with vivid historical detail.” —The Christian Science Monitor

“Wu presents an alluring story that hits all the right emotional buttons and maintains readers’ empathy from the first page to the last.” —Kirkus Reviews

“You may have read other Asian American historical novels, but you've never read anything like Julie Wu's affecting and emotional The Third Son. It's one of the don't-miss books of the year.” —Beth Fish Reads

“With great authority and skill, Wu depicts not just the grand events of the era, such as the Kuomintang (KMT)'s arrival in Taiwan and the brutal occupation that followed, but also the small, private moments of life . . . The Third Son should be the start of a very successful writing career for Julie Wu, and I hope she will not need long to write her next novel—I'm excited to read it.” —Fiction Writers Review

Review

"A boy growing up in Japanese-occupied Taiwan in the 1940s will do anything to escape his tormenting family and reconnect with his first love in this compelling work of fiction." --O, The Oprah Magazine

Kirkus Reviews
Wu's debut convincingly depicts a third-born son's struggle to overcome his feelings of worthlessness and insecurity as he journeys from Taiwan to America in pursuit of freedom and accomplishment. Saburo's father is a prominent businessman and politician, and the family reaps the benefits of his position in Japanese-occupied Taiwan. Eight-year-old Saburo realizes that, as the third son, he'll never attain an exalted position within the family; in fact, he's the family's scapegoat. Each day when he returns home, he's beaten, berated and accused of causing his younger brother's death, and although the young boy inwardly questions why he's the object of so much hatred, he accepts his treatment. In the midst of a World War II air raid, Saburo saves a girl's life. He's immediately smitten by Yoshiko's beauty and frequently dreams of her, but many years pass before they meet again. The intervening years harbor a new era in Taiwan: Chiang Kai-Shek's Nationalists are the ruling force in the country, and those who oppose their policies face death. Meanwhile, Saburo has suffered further misfortune and abuses. He's denied the educational opportunities his other brothers are given and must work to educate himself; he's bitten by a venomous snake; and he almost dies of malnutrition when his mother denies him a fair portion of the family's rations. When Saburo and Yoshiko cross paths again, she's not only more beautiful than he remembers, but she's also the object of his oldest brother Kazuo's desire. Saburo's Uncle Toru, a guiding influence in his life, encourages his nephew to pursue his dreams, and Saburo finally takes his advice to heart. His persistence wins Yoshiko over (although it increases Kazuo's hatred toward him) and provides Saburo with the impetus to work toward his educational goals. Against all odds, he becomes the student from his county to receive a coveted invitation to study in the United States. Although he must leave Yoshiko and his infant son behind, Saburo makes the journey and faces new challenges--including his loved ones' illnesses, the threatening presence of Chinese agents who monitor his moves, racism, and decisions about his personal and professional future. Each obstacle serves to strengthen Saburo's resolve to become a financially independent and emotionally strong husband, father and person. Wu presents an alluring story that hits all the right emotional buttons and maintains readers' empathy from the first page to the last.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781616203276
Publisher:
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date:
05/27/2014
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
718,477
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)

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What People are saying about this

author of "Fobbit" David Abrams

"The Third Son is about love lost, love regained, and--most of all--love's endurance . . . I was entranced by this tale of an immigrant who boldly makes a new future for himself out of the wreckage of a Dickensian childhood. Julie Wu has taken the story of her own parents and turned it into a universal story that will have everyone cheering for Saburo and Yoshiko, two lovers whose faith in each other spans continents and oceans."

author of "The Lincoln Letter" William Martin

"A talented young writer has arrived. And you'll be hearing a lot about her new novel, The Third Son. It's a wonderful debut filled with compelling characters and riveting drama. Do not miss it."

author of "Tell the Wolves I'm Home" Carol Rifka Brunt

"An epic and beautiful debut. Wu had me rooting for her hero right from the very start. The Third Son is a novel of chances and choices, love and loyalty, hope and heartache. A magnificently inspiring story of one man's odyssey to freedom."

Marie Myung-Ok Lee

"This novel has it all: mystery, family, the sweep of history, humor. Once you begin to read the story of Saburo Tong, you won't be able to put it down."

author of "Somebody's Daughter" Marie Myung-Ok Lee

"This novel has it all: mystery, family, the sweep of history, humor. Once you begin to read the story of Saburo Tong, you won't be able to put it down."

Pagan Kennedy

"This novel opens with a blast of machine-gun fire, as a schoolboy delivers a girl from death during World War II. Julie Wu spins a fable of borders--between childhood and adulthood, Taiwan and America. In deceptively simple prose, Wu evokes the heartache of people caught in the middle."

author of "Confessions of a Memory Eater" Pagan Kennedy

"This novel opens with a blast of machine-gun fire, as a schoolboy delivers a girl from death during World War II. Julie Wu spins a fable of borders--between childhood and adulthood, Taiwan and America. In deceptively simple prose, Wu evokes the heartache of people caught in the middle."

Unpublished endorsements

“From the first page of her debut novel, Julie Wu effortlessly slips us into Saburo's world--a life that begins in hardship and cruelty in 1940s Taiwan, but eventually finds happiness and fulfillment in the American Dream.I was entranced by this tale ofan immigrant who boldly makes a new future for himself out of the wreckage of a Dickensian childhood.The Third Sonis aboutlove lost, love regained, and--most of all--love's endurance. Julie Wu has taken the story of her own parents and turned it into a universal story that will have everyone cheering for Saburo and Yoshiko, two lovers whose faith in each other spans continents and oceans.” —David Abrams, author of Fobbit

“A talented young writer has arrived. And you'll be hearing a lot about her new novel,The Third Son.It's a wonderful debut filled with compelling characters and riveting drama. Do not miss it.” —William Martin,New York Timesbestselling author ofThe Lincoln Letter

“Clear your schedule!The Third Sonis your next obsessive read. Julie Wu’s book reads like an instant classic. This electrifying story of human yearning, perseverance, and love, introduces an unlikely hero who struggles to prevail against the limitations of his birth in embattled midcentury Taiwan. His experiences are authentically foreign, as we see post-WWII America through his eyes, and yet compellingly familiar, as heendures trials of mind, body, and spirit, persevering against brutal circumstances to risk everything for love and for his future.Wu's storytelling is masterful.” —Lydia Netzer, author ofShine Shine Shine

“An epic and beautiful debut, Wu had me rooting for her hero right from the very start.The Third Sonis a novel of chances and choices, love and loyalty, hope and heartache. A magnificently inspiring story of one man's odyssey to freedom.” —Carol Rifka Brunt, author ofTell the Wolves I'm Home

“This novel has it all: mystery, family, the sweep of history, humor. Once you begin to read the story of Saburo Tong, you won't be able to put it down.” —Marie Myung-Ok Lee, author ofSomebody's Daughter

“This novel opens with a blast of machine-gun fire, as a schoolboydelivers a girl from death during World War II. Julie Wu spins afable of borders—between childhood and adulthood, Taiwan andAmerica. In deceptively simple prose, Wu evokes the heartache ofpeople caught in the middle.” —Pagan Kennedy, author ofConfessions of a Memory Eater

author of "Shine Shine Shine" Lydia Netzer

"Clear your schedule! The Third Son is your next obsessive read. Julie Wu's book reads like an instant classic."

Lydia Netzer

"Clear your schedule! The Third Son is your next obsessive read. Julie Wu's book reads like an instant classic."

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