Reviewed by: Jennifer Chretien, Reference Staff
Rating: 4 stars
The Fortunes is a book divided into three parts, each one documenting a period of the Chinese American experience through the eyes of an individual person: an indentured servant in the 1860’s, an actress in the 1930’s, a man brutalized for mistaken identity in the 1980’s, and another struggling with cultural identity in the present day. Each story was remarkably told, weaving together historical fiction with beautiful prose. The characters are not related but the author is able to seamlessly segue into the next story through surprising ways.
It is ultimately a book about the changing cultural identity within the melting pot of America. Peter Ho Davies uses examples little known in the course of American history studies to prompt his reader to consider how one can maintain cultural ties to their forefathers’ country of origin when the lines become blurred the longer the family is away from that country. Highly recommend this book to anyone interested in American historical fiction or fans of Amy Tan and Lisa See