Songs of Willow Frost was one of the saddest books I've read recently. Sad but good. I choose to read Songs of Willow Frost because I had enjoyed Ford's other book, Hotel On The Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Plus his books are set in Seattle which is an added bonus.Despite the sad tale, I liked Songs of Willow Frost.
It's 1934 and William is turning twelve. William lives at Sacred Heart Orphanage and been there for five years. William misses his mother but believes she is dead. For his birthday and the birthdays of all the boys at the orphanage, the nuns take them to see a movie. During the movie, William sees a woman he believes to be his mother. With the help of his friends, Sunny and Charlotte, William sets out to find Willow Frost.
William is the narrator for much of the book. He's twelve but I choose to believe he was looking back as a grown man. Some of William's thoughts are too advanced for a twelve year old with limited schooling. Plus some of the circumstances of him being in the orphanage and what happened to his mother were more than I think a twelve year would understand. But William's story is sad. And his friend Charlotte's story was sadder. Charlotte had been blinded at birth when nurses put the wrong eye drops in her eyes. Charlotte's mom died and her dad was in prison. Instead of adoption, Charlotte was going to be placed at a school for blind children. Charlotte didn't want to go and instead clung to William. They had a cute twelve year old romance.
Ford also deals with how people of color were treated in the 1920's and 1930's. William's friend, Sunny, is Native American and ostracized for it. William also had difficulty fitting in with the other kids because he was Chinese. In fact Ford talks about Chinese kids weren't adopted. Chinese families saw them as a bad omen and white families didn't want Chinese kids. Most of the kids at that time weren't adopted due to the Depression. Many were turned to labor farms. Willow also faced a lot of discrimination due to being unwed Chinese mother. Her story was sad too.
Even though this is one of the saddest books I've read, I would recommend it. I loved the history of Seattle. I think it would be a great book club book. There's plenty to talk about. Others who shared their thoughts on Songs of Willow Frost: Alison's Book Marks, Novelicious, The Underemployed Librarian, and Joyfully Retired.
This is my seventh read for the Historical Reading Challenge