Tuesday, 20 January 2009

White Jade Tiger by Julie Lawson

Our story begins with Jasmine, a young teenager who is moving in with her Aunt in Victoria after her father accepts a teaching position at a University in China. While living with her Aunt she ventures into nearby Chinatown and is somehow transported a hundred years into her past.
While in the past she learns about the important role of the Chinese laborers in the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
This was a well written novel that was able to pull me right into the story even though it is written with a teen reader in mind. The characters are interesting and believable. Chan Tai Keung as a 15 year old Chinese boy travelling to Canada to find his father is much a product of his time and family circumstances. I would have enjoyed reading more about him when Jasmine isn't in his time, but alas, the story wasn't centred on him.
I wonder if the author is also a quilter? In the story Jasmine and her mother have started to piece a quilt. Unfortunately the mother passes away before it is finished. They are making a memory quilt that uses bits of fabrics from Jasmine's outgrown clothing. Ms. Lawson intertwines the events and memories of Jasmine's life with the quilt and they grow together. I liked the significance of the final piece of fabric added to the quilt. It helps to complete the story of Jasmine's life to that point in time.
This story has several strengths on which I would recommend it: Canadian and Chinese history and the confidence exhibited by Jasmine. After 18 years as a school teacher, it's not surprising that Julie Lawson knows how to write to appeal to children. I would love to see her venture into a full length novel directed at adults.


Anonymous said...

The book is amazing. It is a complex and ambitious first novel by Julie Lawson

Anonymous said...

What are some characteristics of Keung?

Heather said...

as I mentioned, I would have liked to learn more of Keung. Good character. Look at the strenth of character that he would travel half way around the world to search for his father. The hardships he must have endured. I can't imagine many yourth of this day undertaking that depth of endevour.

Just think about the challenges of what Keung did and then you should be able to figure several characteristics about him. Sorry, but I can't do your homework for you.

Bookhugger said...

I loved this book! We read it as a class, but it went so fast I had to read it again to understand it! This book deserves to be savoured. I loved hearing all the Chinese history and Canadian history. I always wondered what brought Jasmine and Keung together! Does anyone understand why they were brought together?