Daughters of the Dragon by William Andrews
Genres: Historical Fiction
Publication: June 28th 2016 by Lake Union Publishing
Length: 363 pages
Synopsis: When twenty-year-old Anna Carlson travels from America to a Korean orphanage to locate her birth mother, she’s devastated to learn the woman is already dead. But just when it seems her search is over, a stranger hands her a parcel containing an antique comb—and an address.
That scrap of paper leads Anna to the Seoul apartment of the poor yet elegant Hong Jae-hee. Jae-hee recounts an epic tale that begins with the Japanese occupation of Korea and China during World War II, when more than two hundred thousand Korean women were forced to serve the soldiers as “comfort women.” Jae-hee knows the story well—she was one of them.
As Jae-hee’s narrative unfolds, Anna discovers that the precious tortoiseshell comb, with its two-headed ivory dragon, has survived against all odds through generations of her family’s women. And as its origins become clearer, Anna realizes that along with the comb, she inherits a legacy—of resilience and courage, love and redemption—beyond her wildest imagination.
Review: I reached for this book because I recently read The Dragon Queen by the same author. Daughters of the Dragon is a book that directly links to The Dragon Queen. While both books share a character, Anna, I don’t believe they are classed as a series as such.
Daughters of the Dragon is heartbreaking. I started reading it without initially checking the book description and kinda just went with it. This is what I usually do, but in case of books like this one, it’s not always a good idea!
The book presents a story of a comfort woman during the Japanese occupation of Korea. Any political context is presented from the perspective of the Jae-hee, who is just a girl at the beginning of the story.
While I found this book challenging, and it took me a long time to get through the middle section of the story, I believe it is a book that should be read by more people.
Daughters of the Dragon talks about something that is really difficult. It shows young girls being forced to serve as comfort women to foreign soldiers. The story pictures various awful images; girls treated as a possession, complete lack of respect or, in fact, decency between the Japanese and the Korean captives, and the true helplessness of those who are being abused.
While I cannot say that the book is a pleasurable read, I still recommend it. It is eye-opening to read about the war crimes committed and then read about the aftermath – after all, the occupation ended, but what are the girls doing after it ends? How does the conservative society of Korea support them? Will they be able to share their story and find peace?
Daughters of the Dragon is overwhelming because we can guess the answers to most of these questions and it’s a perfect example of the history repeating itself. It’s also challenging and thought-provoking, because it shows us a different reality. We live in a world where talks about equality are heard daily, where power imbalance is so much smaller than in Daughters of the Dragon.
Rating: 5 / 5
Did you read this book? What did you think about it?
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