If the title doesn’t get you, that cover surely will.
When Ellis Reed captures a moment on film, he has no idea what that split second decision will lead to. “2 Children for Sale”, reads the sign. And yes, the children are right there to prove it. What would drive a family to sell their own flesh and blood? Ellis has an inkling as does everyone else in the country dealing with such devastating hard times. Because, you see, he himself is soon led do something questionable. And this moment results in a domino effect of tragic proportions. The question is, will he be able to make things right before it’s too late?
This book is everything I love most in a story. It’s historical and reads like an epic tale. The characters are raw and gritty and read true to life. With so much truth woven into the story elements, you feel like you’re reading a real life account of events. Definitely a keeper!
This was a book that I went into blind. I read a vague description months ago, but when I read it this past week, I couldn’t remember what it was supposed to be about. I am glad that it turned out this way, as it gave me a pleasant surprise throughout my reading!
There are many well-known books that examine what it was like to be fighting in the Vietnam War, particularly from the American side. It is rare that we find a story that examines the war from the perspective of a Chinese immigrant living in Vietnam, and here, Lam has created a perfect cast of characters, all sharing similar experiences.
I’m not going to reveal any of the plot, as that would act as a disservice to the book. However, what I can say is that in The Headmaster’s Wager, Lam has created a world where nothing is perfect, and there is no right or wrong. Lam does not condemn, nor does he laud. Each character has their own faults, and yet their actions are all taken to survive in one way or another. An action that you may believe to be beneficial, may not end up being so, but yet out of that misstep, comes another result that may ultimately be successful. Lam expertly weaves together the idea that every action has a consequence, and no matter if it results in tragedy or happiness, life will go on.
The timeline jumps from various decades, beginning in the 30’s and ending in the late 1970’s. This could seem jarring in many books, but Lam presents in such a fashion that it becomes essential to character building. Like I said above, some of the actions the characters take can seem extreme and excruciating, however, just when we think we hate a character, or what they do seems unrealistic, we are transported back into another decade and some of the motive is explained.
Whilst this is ultimately a story of the human condition in a time of war, there is also an interesting historical element that Vietnam War enthusiasts, or even those with just a passing interest, may enjoy. I knew very little concerning the war before I started reading, and the story teaches you several different aspects to the war, the different people/countries involved, and first hand experiences of what life was like for the people in Vietnam (whilst this book is a fictional tale, Lam’s family emigrated from Vietnam, so some parts are based on recollections that he heard from his family), and so you come away feeling like you understand the time period a lot more.
I hate to make this comparison, but in a sense, it is like the film Titanic; you ultimately know what is going to happen due to hearing bits and pieces here and there about the true life events, but you end up hoping that events take a different course, and you learn about the minor players, the behind the scenes action, and all the cogs that make the motion. This suspense that Lam creates really is brilliant.
If you’re looking for a read that will fill you with the spectrum of emotions, a read that will pique an interest in the history behind the Vietnam War, a read that will make you question human motive, then this is the book for you. Take a leap of faith and jump into this book without reading the blurb, or any plot reviews.
Oh. My. Goodness. A Hundred Summers was so good and so substantial that I had to stop every few chapters to reflect on and digest what I just read. I consumed this novel, and it consumed me. I was smiling as I read. Grinning from ear to ear. I’m happy even thinking about it now. A Hundred Summers is a conventional love story with unconventional twists and characters who made my eyes bug out of my head. There were several mouth-agape, palm-over-mouth gasping moments as well as full chapters that got my shoulders a-tense.
It’s the writing that makes this book a winner. Williams’ cleverness impressed me. She used metaphor and symbolism expertly: a football game, a snowstorm, a hurricane. What you see isn’t what you get; you get something even better.
Reading A Hundred Summers, I was surprised at every turn. I could not predict a thing (well, until the end, and even then I was afraid I was wrong). The characters surprised me, their circumstances shocked me. Their behavior — for the 1930s, especially! — entertained me.
Nick and Lily were an item six years ago. They had even planned on getting married. But family issues, misunderstandings, and Lily’s friend Budgie interfered. Budgie ended up with Nick. Budgie’s old flame Graham wanted Lily. No one’s intentions were pure … Jealousy, ego, anger, hurt and vengeance all played a part.
The plot explains how Nick and Lily untangle themselves from the scandal that was built around each of their families, but it isn’t a straight and narrow road. The twists and turns will pull you in, and drag you around the beach for a hundred glorious summers.
A Hundred Summers is going into my Favorites collection, along with Hosseini’s And The Mountains Echoed and Conroy’s The Prince of Tides.