Sunday, February 17, 2019

Paper Wife by Laila Ibrahim ~ My Thoughts #PaperWife #NetGalley


Paper Wife

Paper Wife by Laila Ibrahim
Print and e-book, 293 pages
Published October 30th 2018 by Lake Union Publishing

From the bestselling author of Yellow Crocus comes a heart-wrenching story about finding strength in a new world.

Southern China, 1923. Desperate to secure her future, Mei Ling’s parents arrange a marriage to a widower in California. To enter the country, she must pretend to be her husband’s first wife—a paper wife.

On the perilous voyage, Mei Ling takes an orphan girl named Siew under her wing. Dreams of a better life in America give Mei Ling the strength to endure the treacherous journey and detainment on Angel Island. But when she finally reaches San Francisco, she’s met with a surprise. Her husband, Chinn Kai Li, is a houseboy, not the successful merchant he led her to believe.

Mei Ling is penniless, pregnant, and bound to a man she doesn’t know. Her fragile marriage is tested further when she discovers that Siew will likely be forced into prostitution. Desperate to rescue Siew, she must convince her husband that an orphan’s life is worth fighting for. Can Mei Ling find a way to make a real family—even if it’s built on a paper foundation?

My thoughts about Paper Wife ~~

(I love to note the first lines of the books I'm reading. First lines can really grab a reader's attention and I love seeing where the author takes the reader after their first line.)

First line—"Before opening the door, Mei Ling turned back for one last look at her family. Swallowing hard, she studied them, burning the tableau of faces into the folds of her memory. Soon they would be separated, perhaps forever."

I love books written about the Chinese culture. Everything about the culture, their traditions, and the way they live their lives has always fascinated me. Paper Wife was an excellent look at the times and traditions of China in the 1920's—an arranged marriage for Mei Ling and a long voyage to America with a man she didn't even know. And then to find out that what she thought was the truth, was a lie. But wasn't she living a lie, as well?

Paper Wife is beautifully written and I fell in love with all of the characters that made up Mei Ling's family. The story is full of life struggles as everyone tries to adjust to each other, and to their new lives, but it's also full of love. I really enjoyed this story and look forward to ready more books by this author.

I received Paper Wife from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. 

About the author

Laila Ibrahim

My education and experience in multiracial, developmental psychology and attachment theory provide ample fodder for my novels. My passion for early childhood education, child birth and religious education are reflected in my writing.

I was the founder and director of Woolsey Children's School where I had first hand experience loving children that were not my own. There are scenes in Yellow Crocus that were largely influenced interactions I had with children from Woolsey.

As a birth doula I had the privilege of witnessing the intensity and joy of childbirth. You can see that my birth experiences are reflected in my novels.

Spiritual themes that cross over multiple religious traditions come directly from working as the Director of Children and Family Ministries at the First Unitarian Church in Oakland.

I live in a small co-housing community in Berkeley, California, with my wonderful wife, Rinda, our amazing children, Kalin and Maya, and our crazy dogs, Bella and Lucie.

I'm very grateful to be a full time writer starting in 2015.

I was surprised when the writing bug bit me. The idea for the story came to me in 1998, I was with a group of people talking about Tiger Woods. Someone mentioned that he identifies as much as an Asian person as an African-American person. I thought to myself, "Of course he does, his mother is Asian. You form your core identity in relationship to your primary caregivers. It's a basic part of the attachment process."

Then the image of Lisbeth, a white baby, breastfeeding in the loving arms of Mattie, an enslaved wetnurse came to me in a flash. I thought about what it would be like for Lisbeth to dearly love Mattie and then be taught by society that she wasn't a full person. I wondered how it would feel for Mattie to be forced to abandon Samuel, her own child, in the slave Quarters. Then I imagined what the experience would be like for Miss Anne, the birth mother, to have her own child twist away from her to get into Mattie's arms. These characters started to haunt me. Various scenes popped into my head. Though I had never written anything, I was being called to tell this story. For my fortieth birthday, I began the personal marathon of writing my first novel. I hope you will come to love these characters as much as I have.

At face value Living Right seems like a big leap from Yellow Crocus, but it deals with the same themes: a caregiver loving across a huge societal barrier.

I LOVED returning to Mattie, Lisbeth and Jordan for Mustard Seed. The story of finding faith in hopeless times really resonates for me. I plan to return to their families' ongoing journey after I finish my current novel-Paper Wife.

Paper Wife focuses on Mei Ling, a young Chinese woman immigrating to San Francisco through Angel Island a in the early 1920's. Reactionary anti-immigration laws in the United States and warfare in China caused people desperate for survival to be misleading about their identities so they could be united with family and have access to work. Mei Ling yearns to have a life of integrity though it was built on a foundation of lies. ~ Goodreads

Connect with Laila

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon


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