Monday, July 5, 2010

Review: "A Thread of Sky" by Deanna Fei

When Irene Shen's husband of thirty years is killed in a sudden accident, coincidentally as he's leaving her to start a new life, her whole family falls apart. Her three daughters, all blaming Irene for their father's death, scatter across the globe. Nora, the eldest, lives in New York and is involved in a tumultuous relationship. Kay, the middle child, is living in China, learning the heritage and language of her ancestors. Sophie, the youngest, is prepared to escape to college as soon as she receives her high school diploma.

Irene, desperate to reconnect with her daughters, plans a last-minute trip to China and invites her distant mother and sister along. These three generations of women reluctantly set off on their trip, but don't realize that instead of finding their heritage, they will end up finding themselves.

I enjoyed the complexity of A Thread of Sky- the six women begin their journey distanced from one another and holding on to their carefully guarded secrets, but it isn't until those secrets begin to tumble out, one after another, that they really open themselves up to the possibility of connection. It's like at the beginning of the book each woman is surrounded by safe layers, and as their trip continues on they start stripping those layers off. At the end of the book we are presented with a new version of each woman, the authentic version.

My only complaint would be that the story meandered at times. I felt as if the same things could have been accomplished in less time just by removing a few unnecessary scenes. The beginning was especially slow for me, as we meet all six female characters and get a feel for their back story. Deanna Fei was taking a risk by focusing on six central characters, but handled it well and it ended up paying off.

A Thread of Sky was filled with beautiful scenery, detailed history, closely guarded secrets, and an emotional journey. It was an ultimately uplifting story about the bonds between mothers and daughters, sisters and siblings. Thank-you to Penguin Canada for this review copy!

Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Recommended to: Armchair travellers, those who enjoy stories about the complexity of female relationships
Challenges: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge 2010


  1. I just finished this book last night. I really enjoyed it, but had a little trouble getting into it.

    Nice review.

  2. Marie: I completely agree. It took me a while to get into the book, but thankfully the ending redeemed the book for me. I kind of felt that there was lots that could have been cut out (although of course I forgot to put that in my review, LOL!).

  3. I listened to an interview with this author on a podcast and thought the book sounded great! Thanks for your review - I have just added it to my wishlist at PBS!

  4. It's nice that the ending made up for the slow start. I love the cover of this book!