Monday, October 22, 2012

The Black Isle

The Black Isle
Sandi Tan
Grand Central Publishing
Hatchette Book Group
ISBN: 978-0-446-56392-5
August 2012
469 pages

Living life as an elderly woman of Asian descent can be trying. Finding a story
about your life in a library can either fill you with pride or dread. She feels
the horror of everything written about her and the depressed
thought of these lies in print. However, the truth of one aspect of this
book is true. She can talk to ghosts.

Few of us really know the horrors of those who lived through a war
occupied by an enemy. Some are able to still live in their home
although many are displaced being evicted from their home by opposing forces who
might not understand your history, culture, and language.

Being born in Shanghai in 1922, Ling discovered that being the female
half in a set of twins was not to her advantage. Her brother, Li, was obviously
favored by the family, especially their mother. Ling's mother is
extremely fearful of others and often refuses to allow the children to
leave the house. Her family lived well with her father being a teacher
with the family continuing to grow with the birth of another set of twins, both
girls, but the mother's paranoia of the outside world also growing.

With the advent of World War II approaching, the family grew in fear of being
invaded by their enemies, the Japanese. To save themselves and especially the
males, Ling's father took her brother and herself to the
Black Isle to begin a new and hopefully safer life. However, life
seldom happens as we hope.

Ling also possesses an unusual gift. She sees ghosts. To her, they
are as obvious as real people and are even difficult to sometimes
differentiate who is alive and dead.

In this epic novel covering about seventy years, the reader views the life on a
Pacific Island through a multitude of influences and change. She
also has the unique perspective of these changes upon the spirits of the island
who frequently have their own opinions of modern progress.

Black Isle is well-developed with realistic characters in a well-organized story
spanning much of Ling's life. The story reads as her narrative
explaining her choices including many of the horrors of the Japanese
occupation on the island as well as being a British colony.

The Black Isle is the debut novel for Singapore native Sandi Tan. She was
educatied in th UK and the United States and currently lives in

This unusual haunting novel combines history with fantasy to narrate a truly
memorable tale.

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