Friday, January 11, 2013


Story Description: 
Random House|March 29, 2011|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-307-35653-6 
In the tradition of The Concubine’s Children and Paper Shadows, a probing memoir from the author of the acclaimed novel Midnight at the Dragon Café. 
An elegant and surprising book about a Chinese family’s difficult arrival in Canada, and a daughter’s search to understand remarkable and terrible truths about her parents past lives. 
Growing up in her father’s hand laundry in small town Ontario, Judy Fong Bates listened to stories of her parents past lives in China, a place far removed from their everyday life of poverty and misery.  But in spite of the allure of these stories, Fong Bates longed to be a Canadian girl.  Fifty years later she finally followed her curiosity back to her ancestral home in China for a reunion that spiralled into a series of unanticipated discoveries.  Opening with a shock as moving as the one that powers ‘The Glass Castle’, The Year of Finding Memory explores a particular, yet universal, world of family secrets, love, loss, courage and shame. This is a memoir of a daughter’s emotional journey, and her painful acceptance of conflicting truths.  In telling the story of her parents, Fong Bates is telling the story of how she came to know them, of finding memory. 
My Review: 
This was a beautifully written memoir full of many happy times but also full of many sad and hurtful times.  Emotions are stripped bare at some of the shocking revelations Fong Bates discovers about her parents after travelling back to China, her parents ancestral home. 
She met many relatives whom she hadn’t seen in fifty years and others whom she had never met, all eager to tell her their recollections of her parents.   Judy was often overwhelmed with the amount of information she was given as when her parents were alive she didn’t feel she really “knew” them. 
Michael, Judy’s husband was a great tower of strength for her during her two trips back to China.  The first trip was overwhelmed with visits to her father’s birthplace, her mother’s home, cousins, uncles, aunts, brothers, and sisters making it difficult for Judy to see and search out the things she really needed to see. 
A year later, Judy and Michael returned once again to China, this time with a much less busy schedule allowing her to take her time to pick and choose those places most important for to see. 
The emotions the author endured were hard at times but happy at others and I feel that she did “find memory” which is what she was searching for.  I believe Judy is much more comfortable in knowing who she is now by knowing where she came from.   I would highly recommend this beautiful memoir to anyone.


  1. I am so interested in immigrant history and Asian writers and subjects, that this is a book I definitely want to read. Thanks for the review.

    1. Hi Harvee:

      You'll love this book. I too enjoy Asian writers. You should read Gail Tsukiyama's books. The first is called "Women of the Silk".

      Thanks for leaving a comment, it's much appreciated.