The Third Son: A Novel

The Third Son: A Novel

by Julie Wu
4.8 6


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The Third Son: A Novel 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
DubaiReader1 More than 1 year ago
A fascinating view of Taiwan. I had never read any literature from Taiwan and Julie Wu did not disappoint. The narrative begins in 1943, towards the end of the 50 year rule of Taiwan by the Japanese. Suddenly Saburo must change his Japanese name back to the Chinese, Tong Chialin. All the Japanese school books are removed from the classes and replaced by Chinese ones. Saburo is the third son of a Taiwanese family and this, combined with the fact that he was caring for his younger brother when he died, means that his share of everything, food love and education, is reduced to the bare minimum. If it weren't for the care of his cousin, Toru, who is a doctor, he would probably have died of malnutriton. It was during the bombing of their town by American bombers, that 8 year old Saburo meets Yoshiko. She is fleeing the bullets from a jet plane, protected by just her writng board above her head. She describes her family, and for the first time Saburo becomes aware that there are such things as happy families. Although his schooling is intermittent, Saburo is a determined scholar. He sees education as a way out of his situation. But how far can a downtrodden young Taiwanese lad go without the support of his family? As I had hoped, this was not just a story of a young Taiwanese boy, although this part was well done - it was also an insight into the life and and experiences of the people in that time and place. I have definitely learned a lot about the country through reading this and hope that the author will go on to write other books set in Taiwan.
Bookgobbler More than 1 year ago
What a fascinating story  -- and how refreshing to find a first-person narrative that so convincingly carries the resonance of reality!  I felt completely enmeshed in Saburo's world from the first scene:  his story is told much like how a real person who has lead a fascinating life would actually tell his own story has had me recommending this book to random strangers in bookstores. Why?  Well, even very good character-based fiction set against the backdrop of great social and political upheaval will stray from the protagonist's private world in a way that can feel extraneous to the experience of someone who actually lived through those events.   In THE THIRD SON, though, the narrative gives those events the precise heft they would have realistically had in Saburo's life.  A childhood encounter with a snake leaps off the page with nightmare vividness.  A change in political regime is depicted primarily through the suddenly arbitrary actions of the protagonist's schoolteacher.  An act of kindness leaps out as the only thing that's important to remember about a particular year.  It's an especially effective tactic in the early chapters, where our little hero encounters some pretty disturbing abuse.   The overall effect? The reader enjoys the unusual pleasure of feeling as though she's eavesdropping directly upon his memories. And isn't that one of the great tests of first-person fiction, ultimately?  
Piegirl More than 1 year ago
Very good book. Could not put it down. Just wish it was longer because I did not want the story to end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Warning: Make sure you have ample reading time to spare when you start this because you won't be able to put it down! Julie Wu seems to be quite knowledgeable about the political climate at the time, as well as the culture and attitudes of its people. Fascinating read.
vanlyle More than 1 year ago
This is a well written book that has the sound of a biography. It doesn't always give the motivation behind the main characters actions, just that they were done, in the way that most people make decisions. It is quite a good coming of age story with maybe a bit more extremes of lows than a normal life. The addition of the history of Taiwan adds a lot of character to the story. I'm definitely glad I read it!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago