Tag Archives: China

Book Review: Reclaiming Lily

11 Jan

A storm the size of Texas brews when Gloria Powell and Kai Chang meet in a Ft. Worth hotel. They have come to discuss the future of Lily, the daughter Gloria adopted from China and the sister Kai hopes to reclaim. Kai is a doctor who had to give up her little sister during the Cultural Revolution and has since discovered that an inherited genetic defect may be waiting to fatally strike Lily.

Gloria’s relationship with her daughter is tattered and strained, and the arrival of Kai, despite the woman’s apparent good intentions, makes Gloria fearful. Gloria longs to restore her relationship with Lily, but in the wake of this potentially devastating diagnosis, is Kai an answer to prayer–or will her arrival force Gloria to sacrifice more than she ever imagined?


Patti Lacy graduated from Baylor University with a BS in education and completed master’s-level courses in English at Indiana State University. She taught at Heartland Community College until May 2006, when she resigned to pursue her passion of writing. The author of three previous novels, Patti is the mother of two grown children and lives with her husband in Normal, Illinois.

My Impressions:

Wow, what a wonderful story!  Reclaiming Lily by Patti Lacy is sure to be on my best of the best list for 2012!  Lacy’s latest novel is a complex study in western and eastern cultures, teenager turmoil and the life and death struggle of a serious disease. Sounds like a lot is going on, right?  There is, but Lacy deftly weaves all the elements into an unputdownable read.

Joy Powell is a very troubled teenager.  Brought to the United States from China by her adoptive parents, Joy has struggled with her identity and the prejudice of others almost from the start.  Her parents, Gloria and Andrew are clueless as to how to help her.  Enter a previously unknown sister, Kai, who brings some potentially devastating news about Joy’s Chinese family’s health history.  Kai long ago vowed to reclaim Joy/Lily for the Chang family and has worked hard to get to the point to do it.

Reclaiming Lily was difficult at first to read.  There are major differences between western and eastern cultures that Lacy presents.  It was hard to connect with Kai and her very Chinese way of looking at things.  Then there is the character of Gloria — an overprotective mother determined to do the right thing, but failing miserably.  And Joy/Lily is the teenager every parent fears.  But as the story unfolded, the characters became so real and believable.  And the story of reclamation, new starts and new life is beautifully profound.

Reclaiming Lily is simply a wonderful story.  You need to read it!

Highly Recommended.

(I received Reclaiming Lily from Bethany House Publishers in return for a review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: The City of Tranquil Light

14 Dec

Will Kiehn is seemingly destined for life as a humble farmer in the Midwest when, having felt a call from God, he travels to the vast North China Plain in the early twentieth-century. There he is surprised by love and weds a strong and determined fellow missionary, Katherine. They soon find themselves witnesses to the crumbling of a more than two-thousand-year-old dynasty that plunges the country into decades of civil war. As the couple works to improve the lives of the people of Kuang P’ing Ch’eng– City of Tranquil Light, a place they come to love–and face incredible hardship, will their faith and relationship be enough to sustain them?

Told through Will and Katherine’s alternating viewpoints–and inspired by the lives of the author’s maternal grandparents–City of Tranquil Light is a tender and elegiac portrait of a young marriage set against the backdrop of the shifting face of a beautiful but torn nation. A deeply spiritual book, it shows how those who work to teach others often have the most to learn, and is further evidence that Bo Caldwell writes “vividly and with great historical perspective” (San Jose Mercury News).


Bo Caldwell is the author of the national bestseller The Distant Land of My Father and the novel City of Tranquil Light. Her short fiction has been published inPloughsharesStoryEpoch, and other literary journals. A former Stegner Fellow in Creative Writing at Stanford University, she lives in Northern California with her husband, novelist Ron Hansen.

My Impressions:

The City of Tranquil Light is probably the best book I have read this year, and I have read some pretty good books!  It tells the story of a young Mennonite couple who meet and marry while pursuing the call of God to be missionaries to China in the early 20th century.  Sounds kind of tame doesn’t it?  But what Bo Caldwell has produced is anything but.  Told in the quiet reminiscences of Will and the diary entries of Katherine, the reader discovers a couple who love God fiercely and therefore those to whom they are ministering.

Will and Katherine go to China to share the gospel and provide nursing care to a poor people who are hostile to outsiders and suspicious of anything foreign. They struggle along with the people they are sent to care for — through disease, famine, drought, and floods.  They face hostility from neighbors and danger from bandits.  They face incredible loss that would have been unthinkable in the United States, but never waver in their pursuit of God’s will for their lives.  Yet Will and Katherine are  extraordinary in their ordinariness.  They epitomize the power God can wield when working through His weak, but submissive children. Even when doubt and anger take root, they determine to trust the God who has proven Himself time and again.  This novel really does show what a life lived for Christ looks like.

The writing is simply beautiful.  I don’t think I have ever teared up in the first pages of a novel before.  But the language is so lyrical, that it did indeed move me to tears.  The secondary characters are just as well-crafted as Will and Katherine. They come alive in the pages of this novel.  So my advice to you is go out and get this book!  You will not regret it.

Very Highly Recommended. (The highest you can get from me and never before given to a book.)


(I received The City of Tranquil Light from the publisher.  All opinions expressed are mine alone.)