Forget Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale

Forget Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale

by Belle Yang


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393339963
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 06/06/2011
Pages: 250
Sales rank: 840,533
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Belle Yang is the author of the popular illustrated books Hannah Is My Name, The Odyssey of a Manchurian, and Baba: A Return to China Upon My Father’s Shoulders. She lives in Carmel, California.

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Forget Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
TZacek on LibraryThing 23 days ago
When Belle Yang leaves college to escape an abusive boyfriend, she finds herself back at home with her traditionalist Chinese-American parents and all the passive-aggressive guilt behavior that comes with. Yang escapes to China to try to find herself and, again, ends up back at home. Now she recounts her father's life-story as we see him growing up in war torn China with 3 other brothers and a meditative father. I'll be honest, I enjoyed Yang's illustrations. But... that's about it. The story sort of feels all over the place. I understand that she is transcribing the story as her father gives it to her, and her illustrations of this are engaging and distinctive. However, I think the mark of a good author who is penning a memoir is knowing how to take all of what is given and put it in some semblance of order for the reader. I have a hard time keeping up with where we are going in the story and when in the story we are. I would have bumped my rating another star if there was a more cohesive timeline. I would have bumped it one more if we had heard more about the abusive boyfriend. I mean, really, that's what everyone wanted to hear about anyway.
pokylittlepuppy on LibraryThing 23 days ago
I won this copy via LibraryThing's Early Reviewers.I liked this. The family story is nice, and the atmosphere is really strong. I liked seeing a lot of everyday-life stories about early 20th-century China, and these make the book very illuminating. RIYL Persepolis-es. The family relationships are cool, but this narrative is a tad bland at times, as nonfiction can be when it isn't exceptionally well-structured. It's hard to give a fantastic climax to real life. Don't we know it!My favorite parts were the meditative conversations the author's grandfather and great-grandfather had, and their parallels with Belle and her dad, which elevate the book to something rarer and more special. Those lessons are good. "I'm just going in circles. I'm stuck."/"If your soul achieves peace, you can attain your goals." And especially: "Do not become attached even to your anger."The theme that Belle is hiding at her parents' to escape an abusive, stalking boyfriend and recover from her terror -- it sets up her opportunity to be told this story by her father, but I was frustrated by the framing sometimes. It's maybe a little too important to be such a small player in this story.The ARC has some copy issues that will need to be cleaned up, so hopefully there won't be many problems in the first editions. There's some misaligned type (words that don't fit into their bubbles), some asterisks that don't have follow-up notes, some panels where the person in the inset says, "Inset: [whatever I am saying!]" Also, one panel looked like it had an accidental run-in with the "eraser" cursor in Photoshop. But I could read around those easily enough. And I'm pretty glad I did so.
guyalice on LibraryThing 23 days ago
I feel honored to have been given an advanced copy of Forget Sorrow, as it will surely be placed among the greats of the graphic memoir subgenre. Like Maus, Persepolis, Fun Home, and Epileptic, it uses sequential art as a perfect medium for presenting an autobiographical narrative. Bell Yang's background in calligraphy is evident in her elegant line art, evoking both Classic Chinese drawings and traditional cartooning.The book is about the expectations and assumptions that parents have for their children and those that kids have for their parents. Belle Yang (here referred to by her Chinese name Xuan) moves back with her parents after cutting ties with her abusive boyfriend, chillingly portrayed as a mouthless giant. As she receives both criticism and compassion from her father, he tells her the story of his youth and their ancestral home back in China. His grandfather was a landowner before the Communists took over, a patriarch to four sons and their families. He would eventually lose his land and position of authority and see both betrayal and boundless devotion from his sons.The memoir also tells of Xuan and her father and how they meet half-way in their differences. Their compromises show the importance of coming to terms with the mistakes you have made that have hurt yourself and others, and being willing to forgive others and yourself. The book also perfectly demonstrates the powers of familial love and finding your own self-worth.
mikewick on LibraryThing 23 days ago
Children¿s book illustrator and author Belle Yang makes her adult graphic novel debut with a deeply moving tale that is the result of her taking refuge with her parents in the wake of a stalking ex-boyfriend threatening her. Capitalizing on the time spent with her father, she teases stories out of him that depict how previous generations of the family living in China were impacted by Mao and the Communist Revolution; about the family¿s clashes and dynamics; and intensely personal reflections on a love for family unseen since his arrival in the United States.
Somer on LibraryThing 23 days ago
Like most graphic novels, this was a very quick read. Belle Yang tells the story of her father's family in China during and after WWII. I enjoyed it very much, but I did have a difficult time keeping the many family members straight. I liked the graphic format, but I think I would have gotten more out of a prose work. As an aside, I did find several typos and there were spots where the text didn't line up with the text bubbles. As this was an ARC, I imagine those problems will be fixed for the final edition.
andreablythe on LibraryThing 23 days ago
Belle Yang flees an abusive boyfriend turned violent stalker and returns to the home of her traditional Chinese parents. There she begins to heal herself and find her own voice by recording her father's ancestral tales, which involve sibling conflicts and the rise of communism. I am fond of the graphic novel/memoir genre, and Yang works will with the form. I was a little slow getting into this, but as the two intertwined stories progress, I became deeply engrossed. The characters come through the simple artwork full of life and vigor. I found myself fascinated by the subtle way Yang evoked culture and shared the intersecting family dynamics that can create conflict. No one is vilified; no one is idolized. People are a complicated mix. Reading this memoir, I felt a sense of familiarity with the family as whole, and compassion for every single family member. This is subtly moving book that I would certainly recommend to others.
mamzel on LibraryThing 23 days ago
This ARC was rife with text misaligned with speech bubbles and a few misspelled or just wrong words but that was not enough to distract the reader from the outstanding story of a Chinese family. Xuan (translated as Forget Sorrow) is the only daughter of Chinese parents who had immigrated from Taiwan. Her father was originally from China, a son of the oldest of four sons of a Manchurian landowner. After a bad relationship with an abusive boyfriend, Xuan went to China to study traditional painting, travel, and meet her grandparents. After the Tiananmen Massacre she returned to the U.S.As a teenager she was scornful and embarrassed of her parents' old-fashioned ways and accented English. In order to try and mend her relationship with her father after her experiences in China, she listens to stories about his father, three uncles, and grandfather. Xuan's ancestors had settled in Manchuria in the early 19th century and eight generations later lived by collecting rent from farmers on their land. When young, her father lived with his family in an enclosure that also sheltered his grandparents and his uncles' families. Through these stories we learn about the complicated politics of this extended family and how they tried to exist in the middle of invasions, wars, revolutions, and famines.By learning about her ancestry and the history of China's tumultuous past, she made peace with her parents and herself. This graphic novel was part of this journey as she shares her family's history with us.To a Western eye, the story seems choppy and fragmented and we must fill in the story as best as we can. But we learn quite a bit about how a family struggles to exist in the rough and difficult times. The black and white art is simple but the characters stand out and are distinctive.I read Pearl S. Buck's books when I was in high school and her haunting stories of China really affected me. Forget Sorrow brought back these stories back to me.
stephmo on LibraryThing 23 days ago
Living with her parents in an exile imposed by a violent stalker, Belle Yang learns of her ancestral history from her father. From the simple beginnings as generational farmers in China to successful land-owners, to their various fates during the Communist takeover, it's an epic tale of distraction designed to help Belle forget the life that has been stolen by her stalker. She manages to draw her life in the present, her father's life as a child and visions of enlightenment as they may have been imagined by her distant relatives. While the majority of this family tale is engaging and fascinating as one watches a family fortune made to ensure the comfort of generations only to watch said generations jockey for position and push apart the security for their own gains while forgetting that forces from the outside will pull indiscriminately at anything and everything. Juxtaposing this against Belle's own inability to leave her father's house and it becomes an interesting study in the parental line between protection and the feeling of imprisonment. Unfortunately, Belle's work towards the later portion of the work loses the early intimate and detailed feel as her father no longer had access or was willing to tell certain stories. To make up for this, Belle flips back and forth between present and past with increasing frequency, but these jumps are often without warning and should have been done either in a slightly different frame or drawing style to clearly denote the changeover. Belle clearly has a talent for this medium, it just would have been better if the latter part of her story had not felt so rushed and full of missing parts. The first half is fantastic.
kristenn on LibraryThing 23 days ago
I wanted to enjoy this much more than I did. You never want to speak ill of tragedy-laden true stories, of course. And it's a part of 20th century history that has never received all that much attention in the West, thanks to the distraction of our own horrors. But I did have difficulty with the art. I was really surprised to learn at the end that Yang is an established artist, so it was a style choice rather than simply a lack of experience. Things were just too tightly packed for me, and not even specific to the given mood. Of course, it didn't help that I had an advance copy that was more error-prone than most. Many speech bubbles only had half of their words and others had temporary notes mixed in with the dialog. The methods of expressing strong emotion and peril were strong; it was more the scenery that got over-detailed and too strongly inked. The story itself was very well-structured and always engaging. The only quibble there was how blithely the ex-boyfriend was written off at the end.
VaterOlsen on LibraryThing 23 days ago
Belle Yang documents her family story while learning it from her father, in an attempt to build their relationship. This graphic novel explores the family's history and personalities in the setting of China before, during, and after WWII. While graphic novels written from a personal perspective are usually an easy way for me to learn history, I found this one to be difficult to follow at times. I couldn't always tell whose voice was being portrayed. Further editing and fewer details would benefit this book.
drmarymccormack on LibraryThing 23 days ago
I loved this book! I'm a big fan of graphic novels and this is one of the good ones. The stories are so beautifully written and drawn. I finished it in one day. I don't know that much about China so it's wonderful to read about such an interesting period of history. Lovely book!
jasonli on LibraryThing 23 days ago
"Forget Sorrow" is a graphic memoir of Yang rediscovering her family history through her father, as she hides out at home from an abusive boyfriend. Taking place both in the present, as she interviews her father, and in the past, as she retells her father's epic tale, "Forget Sorrow" touches upon many aspects: the Cultural Revolution, immigrating to the US, and even enlightenment through Taoism and Buddhism.While the account is fascinating, I found Yang unwilling to shape her father's tale. Much of the narrative is a direct, illustrated transcript of what her father says, leaving events and relationships in the book flat and sometimes confusing for the reader.
jcbrunner on LibraryThing 23 days ago
Having just finished Wild Swans, I thought this graphic novel/memoir would be a good complement. It is also a 20th century Chinese family story that ends up with the protagonist emigrating, this time not to the UK but to the US. In contrast to Wild Swans, apart from the external misery of 20th century Chinese history, there is a large internal misery caused by sibling rivalry and unhappy extended families. This petty and mean infighting over resources is a clear advocate for nuclear families. One beneficial side effect of the Chinese one-child policy is to dismantle the Confucian sibling hierarchy.While the author's father's life in China is well-developed, the time he spent in Taiwan, Japan and the US is only given cursory treatment. Given the troubles the father survived in China, I found the meek response to the stalker issue in the US surprising. The tough laws in the US should have cut those abuses short effectively. As it is, the symmetry of a family terrorized by kin or near-kin in China and the US does not point to forgetting sorrow.