Read The Third Son by JulieWu Online


It's 1943. As air-raid sirens blare in Japanese-occupiedTaiwan, eight-year-old Saburo walks through the peachforests of Taoyuan. The least favored son of a Taiwanesepolitician, Saburo is in no hurry to get home to the tauntingand abuse he suffers at the hands of his parents and olderbrother. In the forest he meets Yoshiko, whose descriptionsof her loving family are to SabuIt's 1943. As air-raid sirens blare in Japanese-occupiedTaiwan, eight-year-old Saburo walks through the peachforests of Taoyuan. The least favored son of a Taiwanesepolitician, Saburo is in no hurry to get home to the tauntingand abuse he suffers at the hands of his parents and olderbrother. In the forest he meets Yoshiko, whose descriptionsof her loving family are to Saburo like a glimpse of paradise.Meeting her is a moment he will remember forever, and foryears he will try to find her again. When he finally does, sheis by the side of his oldest brother and greatest rival.Set in a tumultuous and violent period of Taiwanese history — as the Chinese Nationalist Army lays claim to the islandand one autocracy replaces another—The Third Son tellsthe story of lives governed by the inheritance of family andthe legacy of culture, and of a young man determined to freehimself from both.In Saburo, author Julie Wu has created an extraordinarycharacter, a gentle soul forced to fight for everything he's ever wanted: food, an education, and his first love, Yoshiko. A sparkling, evocative debut, it will have readers cheering for this young boy with his head in the clouds who, against all odds, finds himself on the frontier of America’s space program....

Title : The Third Son
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781616200794
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Third Son Reviews

  • Erika Robuck
    2019-04-16 03:01

    From the moment I began THE THIRD SON and met Saburo, I was drawn to him and invested in his safety and well being. Saburo is a highly sympathetic character–a self-sufficient, calm, and intelligent boy abused by his family. From malnutrition to verbal and physical abuse, Saburo suffers, and he seeks small moments of peace in the outdoors at great cost to himself. When he experiences his first moment of tenderness from a young girl named Yoshiko, whom he saves during an air raid, his life becomes a quest to unite himself with this girl, with tenderness, and with peace amid great odds.Saburo’s determined spirit leads him to achieve great successes with major setbacks and heartbreak along the way, but it is powerful and gratifying to watch this boy grow into a self-confident man. I was particularly fascinated by his experience in America and all that immigrants must learn and endure. I was also interested to read about the history of Taiwan, and the political danger immigrants still faced after they had come to America.THE THIRD SON is an impressive and moving debut by a gifted writer. I will carry Saburo in my heart long after finishing this book. Readers who enjoy history, stories of immigration, and family saga will love THE THIRD SON.

  • Jessica Keener
    2019-04-21 08:17

    I spent many hours this weekend on my couch reading this beautiful novel, this heart wrenching story that I loved so much. And it made me cry. How it touched so many truths for me. Most vital is how this story takes on the travails of a young man and his struggle to free himself from his family and country's soul suffocating entrapment. Set in Taiwan and America in the fifties, author Wu had me enthralled, outraged, holding my breath until the last, splendid page. Her descriptions of geography, food, flowers, plants, mud, water, sky, and complex relationships will immerse you in a culture, time and place that most Americans know nothing about; yet under Wu's masterful hand, all of these things become identifiable, intimately understood and universal. This is a stupendous debut.

  • Ming
    2019-04-12 05:04

    Although competently written (not evocative or beautiful), this book has: (1) peculiar sentences with mismatched ideas, (2) stilted language and jarring pacing, (3) concepts that leapt awkwardly from one to another, and (4) flat or inconsistent character development. I also felt the emotions were portrayed in a remote or superficial way.The backdrop of Taiwan from the period of Japanese occupation till the Nationalist government was interesting in and of itself. I'd like to explore this in other books.I'm now convinced, more than ever, that those author blurbs that praise a particular book are completely questionable.

  • Denise
    2019-03-29 02:16

    The Third Son is a beautifully written debut novel. This book reads more like a memoir. Julie Wu takes the reader back to 1943 to Japanese occupied Taiwan, continues through the struggle with Chinese Nationalism and Communism, and ends in late 50's to early 60's in America. What made this story extraordinary is the narrator and protagonist, Saburo, the third son of a wealthy but cruel Taiwanese family. I found that I was constantly rooting for him to succeed. This story drew me in with its exploration of the political arena as well as the cultural differences between the West and the East. She showcases what the American ideals of freedom and self-worth mean to immigrants and how hard they will fight to achieve them. It also demonstrates what a few encouraging words can do. This is a beautifully crafted story and I look forward to reading more by this author.

  • Barbara White
    2019-04-06 04:24

    Despite the rich settings, the historical backdrop, the beautiful writing, this is a compelling story about an unforgettable character. Saburo, the third son of a Taiwanese politician, suffers abuse, neglect, and disdain from his family, but he is never bitter. He is gentle, resilient, determined, and conflicted. Even though he wants more for himself, Saburo struggles to obey convention and win his father’s respect. Several times I felt such anger toward his mother and older brother that I had to put the book down and suck in a deep breath, but I also cheered as Saburo pursued his dreams—against impossible odds. He is an unlikely rebel, but as Saburo defies his situation to create a better life for his wife and child, he creates an amazing story about the power of the human spirit. This is an inspiring debut.

  • Jennifer S. Brown
    2019-04-15 00:20

    I knew when I picked this book up that it wasn't for me--not a topic I'm particularly interested in--and I was only reading it because a friend of mine insisted. Holy cow, how many other fabulous books am I missing out on because they're "not for me"? I could not put this book down, and when I quickly finished it, I was annoyed with myself for not stretching it out more.Saburo is from Taiwan, a third son who spends his life degraded and abused (his mom both figuratively and literally starves him). But Saburo is a determined to get out, to provide for his wife, and to prove himself to his father. The character is richly developed and the time period--Taiwan as it moved from Japanese to Chinese control--was vividly painted. I learned a lot of history without ever feeling like I was being lectured to. When Saburo moves to the U.S., seeing America through is eyes is both exhilarating and terrifying. This is a terrific read and I would recommend it to all.

  • Savindi
    2019-04-07 04:23

    Cover Gushing Worthiness: The cover of The Third Son is gorgeous. The blend of colours and the silhouette of the little boy amongst the circling airplanes is beautiful. It easily is one of my favourite covers of the year so far.Review: There are two things that drew me to this book 1: The cover and 2. the setting of Taiwan. I’ve never read any fiction about Taiwan and not many people know about the country/region. The only reason I know a little bit about Taiwan is because of my East Asian history courses I took in history. I actually kept my notes for all those classes and I thought I’d share a little bit just so people can have a mini history lesson on the country.TaiwanOccupied by different people, Dutch, Portuguese, Ming Dynasty.In 1895 the Japanese occupied Taiwan and were fierce in putting down the Aboriginal people’s insurrection.A modernization program was set in place by the Japanese.The 1930′s saw the assimilation of Taiwanese into the Japanese society.In 1945 theGuomingdang arrived228 Incident- In 1948 an uprising against the Guomingdang occurred and anyone with connections to the Japanese were imprisoned or their properties were confiscated.A military dictatorship under Chang Kai Shek began and lasted till 1975. Chen Shui Bian knocked the Guomingdang out of power and was elected in 2000.He was voted out of office in 2008.As the synopsis from netgalley says the story of The Third Son follows Saburo, the third son of a prominent politician. Blamed for the death of his younger brother, Saburo is seen as the black sheep of the family and receives hardly any attention from his family while his older brother Kazuo is lavished as the first-born. Told in two parts, Part I taking place from 1943-1957 in Taiwan and Part II taking place between 1957-1962 in the United States, The Third Son follows Saburo as the fates are kind to him and gives him what he has desired for so long, however will he follow his passions or succumb to his family’s wishes?I thought the story of The Third Son was beautiful. It reminded me of Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club in its narration. For some reason I thought there was a Part III in the book and I do think it could have benefited with breaking down the story into three parts, especially after Saburo is reunited with his family. I say ‘family’ because I don’t want to spoil the book for people. When you read it you’ll get the idea! Personally I enjoyed Part I more than Part II of the book. This is probably because the story took place in Taiwan, the whole reason I wanted to read this book. There was something so organic and so real about experiencing Saburo’s life in Taiwan. The beautiful landscapes, the people, the politics – it made you feel like you were engaged in Saburo’s life and maybe the reason it was captivating might have been because the world was seen through the eyes of a child. You experience beauty, nostalgia, innocence, basically a plethora of emotions. In comparison to Part I, Part II felt a little bit flat for me. It’s not because it took place in America, but I felt the story became detached from the reader. I mean you were experiencing certain feelings throughout Part II, but it wasn't at the same intensity as Part I and I’m not sure if it’s because Saburo is an adult in Part II.It was interesting to see the politics in Taiwan at the time. You could feel a sense of helplessness and anger by the population as they were enduring occupation after occupation. I thought this conversation between Saburo’s father, a railroad commissioner and a magistrate portrayed a sense of what the people felt at the time. Politics and loyalty is an integral part of The Third Son. At least the Japanese were not corrupt. If you broke a rule, they tortured you-Killed you mean-If you didn’t, they left you alone.They knew how to govern. How to grow industry, how to run the railroad. They wanted a good economy. They weren’t just out to strip the land and sell everything to the motherland for profit.Yes, while these ua-shing-a ship all our rice to their troops in China.They’re saying we hoard it.Of course they deny it! We can tell. The people at the docks can all see the rice being loaded onto ships.At least the Japanese knew how to distribute rice. No one like the rationing, but-But at least they cared whether we ate.Don’t forget how many people they killed during the resistance.Well, but it was straightforward. It was an armed resistance, like a war. What I’m talking about is-Fool! Remember that ‘amnesty celebration’ where they slaughtered their guests of honor? How many were there? Three hundred?We don’t need the Japanese or the MainlandersThe dogs go and the pigs come Character wise I really liked Saburo and his narration. For some reason in my head I kept on calling him “Subaru” and then when I took a closer look at the spelling of his name I realized that I had been wrong about his name as I was reading the entire story. Throughout the story you rooted for him. You wanted him to defy his family and be the man you as a reader you knew he could be. You wanted him to embrace modernity and carve his own path in life instead of listening to his parents. As a reader you could really sense his struggle between adhering to tradition and embracing the freedom of the west. I think a lot of us who are from Asia have the same struggles. How do you keep to tradition which is so deep-rooted in your culture and embrace modernization at the same time.? I thought Toru’s Math teacher summed up Saburo perfectly. You know, I know why Toru likes you. You’re just like him. Aware of convention but burdened by it.Burdened by it?Yes. I do hope you end up happier, though.I have to admit, Saburo kind of fell flat for me in Part II. I’m not sure how to describe it, but his demeanor changed in the second part. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate his struggles as an immigrant at a time when there was so much racism and hardship, it was that he became distant from the reader if that makes any sense. I can’t say that I was entirely focused on his studies. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate his brilliance, it’s just that math and physics aren’t exactly my forte subjects.Ahhh Part II why couldn’t you be as engaging as Part I of this story? Moving onto Yoshiko, I was rooting for her and Saburo from the moment those two met. I was fuming when Kazuo made a move for her. I was literally thinking “okay no, you’re supposed to end up with Saburo!! Not his jerk of a brother.” Honestly their meeting was one of the most beautiful aspects of the book. It was so innocent and pure. Then when they met as adults I wanted them to immediately get together. Anyways I’m trying hard not to give anything away and I really hope I don’t! She was a great character in Part I. I admired her independence and how she was determined to make her own way in life which had been cruel to her in some aspects. I liked how gutsy she was. I think my affection for her stemmed from the fact that she was physically present in Part I. The interactions were real and sincere. However in Part II because she was physically absent I wasn’t quite fond of her. Not that she had prominent flaws or anything, it’s just I didn’t feel like I saw her character mature in Part II because of her absence. Her letters didn’t convey any sign of development which made me sad. However I admired her strength and her love for Saburo shone through towards the end. She always had his back no matter what and she was always encouraging him.As for Saburo’s family I can’t say I cared much for them. I really detested the way they treated Saburo. I couldn’t quite believe parents can treat their own children that way. As far as I was concerned he didn’t owe them anything. At the same time I think Saburo is one of those children who is an absolute saint in a way. No matter how badly he was treated, he showed respect to his parents, it may have been out of fear. I think that just goes to show you how familial relationships function in societies deeply immersed in tradition and culture.I wish we had gotten to see more of Toru. He seemed like Saburo’s only ally since childhood. He was a sympathetic character and I’m glad that we got know a bit more about him in Part II of the book. I can honestly say I disliked Saburo’s older brother Kazuo. Half the time I wanted to punch him. I was somewhat glad that he was largely absent for the most part in the second half of the book.I thought the ending of the book was a fitting one. We all love the story of the underdog and we’re ecstatic when they succeed.Overall The Third Son was an enjoyable read. I wish Part II was much more of an engaging narrative, but don’t let it deter you from picking up this book. The story is beautiful. It captures the struggle so many of us face in becoming our own person while holding onto the traditions and beliefs that have been instilled in us from the moment we were born. It is also the story of the American Dream and one man’s desire to make it a reality.My Rating: 3.5/5Would I recommend it? YesThe Third Son is published by Algonquin Books and will be available in bookstores on April 30, 2013. This ARC was provided by Netgalley. Thank You Netgalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  • Jaime Boler
    2019-04-12 07:25

    Rocky Balboa had an anthem, and so did Daniel LaRusso. Saburo, the irresistible protagonist in Julie Wu’s dazzling first novel, The Third Son, does not have an anthem; neither does he have a title nor does he win a championship trophy or belt. But Saburo is just as much an unlikely and humble hero as Rocky and the Karate Kid are. With a strong will, a big heart, and an indefatigable spirit, Saburo fights to survive and thrive in the midst of a family that deems him unimportant and a country drowning in violence, tumult, and autocracy.A rich and evocative epic, The Third Son centers on Saburo, a tender and good-hearted underdog who drives Wu’s commanding historical novel. Wu introduces Saburo when he is eight years old, in 1943, weeks before the Japanese begin bombing Taiwan. As Saburo recalls in his own distinctive voice, “We all understood Japanese. Taiwan had been a Japanese colony since 1895.” The official language of Taiwan is Japanese, and even their family’s last name, Togo, is Japanese. “But in our heads and in our home,” Saburo explains, “we spoke and were Taiwanese, descendants of the Mainland Chinese….” Saburo’s life, like Taiwan itself, is complex. He is the third son, “different, somehow,” from his elder brothers Kazuo and Jiro. Saburo does not have a mind for his studies, nor does he have a mind for sports. Instead, “it was far more interesting” for Saburo, “despite the real and everpresent threat of being struck by” his teacher, “to study the sky outside.” The third son of the Togo family loves “the sky, its boundless, lovely blue, the translucent ruffled pattern of clouds stretching across it.”Because his face is forever turned toward the skies, he spots the Japanese planes on the horizon before the air raid sirens sound. While fleeing Japanese bombers in an attempt to make his way to safety, Saburo meets a young girl, Yoshiko, and is instantly smitten. Her disappearance breaks his young, tender heart.Wu creates a pattern with the loss of Yoshiko. Nothing comes easily to Saburo; life, for him, is a struggle. Throughout The Third Son, Saburo must fight. He must fight for food, because the majority of food in his household goes to his brothers and not to him. He must wrangle for position in his family. He must fight to live when sickness threatens to overcome him. Saburo must labor to learn and cherishes reading The Earth, a book his cousin gives him. Saburo is “fed as much” from his “growing knowledge of the stratosphere, the ionosphere, and the aurora borealis as from the berries and mushrooms and silvery fish” that he collects from the land around him. “Reading the book” is a “balm” for Saburo, as he witnesses “all the changes in the world outside.” But even that is taken from him. As the third son, Saburo must also fight for an education. His older brothers are given instruction, but not Saburo. He learns English on his own and studies to be an electrician. His world is shaken, though, when he sees Yoshiko, after years of trying to find her, in the company of his oldest brother. Saburo senses his future is not in Taiwan. “Saburo,” his cousin tells him, “you have only have one life. Fight for it.” This is all the impetus Saburo needs to try to find a place in America, yet he must fight for to study and work in the United States, too. As Saburo battles his naysayers and fights for a better life, we cannot help but cheer on this beloved underdog. He maintains a great deal of persistence and perseverance despite the obstacles that Wu throws in his path. Because we watch him grow to be a good and just man, we develop a strong bond with Saburo; he becomes important to us. Wu forces us to connect emotionally with this character, and the link lasts well beyond finishing the story. The Third Son is a rich debut featuring a character who I came to see as family. Saburo is a very special narrator, one who resonates and one who will steal your heart. Wu’s story is perfect for fans of Samuel Park, Jamie Ford, Janice Y.K. Lee, and Lisa See. Saburo has so much to teach us about life and about living.

  • Anne(Booklady) Molinarolo
    2019-04-03 00:06

    3.5 Stars"Family.A wound that never healed. A promise never to be fulfilled.That was family."This is what the least favored son, the third son, of well off politically connected parents think until he meets a young girl in the peach woods of Taoyuan. At 8 years old, Saburo is in no hurry to get home though the Americans are strafing the town with machine guns mounted on their huge airplanes. It's 1943 in Japanese held Taiwan. He doesn't understand why the teachers don't keep the students inside the school, rather than risk their students being shot. He knows the board that he should keep over his head won't stop the bullets. As he starts to move from his spot, he sees two girls running. One falls, the other stops dead in her tracks. And this girl looks up at Saburo, and the gold specks he sees pierce his heart. The girl's name is Yoshiko. And she has the most beautiful smile he's ever seen. They eventually find shelter in an old store and Yoshiko tells Saburo of her family. He listens in amazement, and when they come across her brother, he's dumbfounded. He's never experienced genuine love or tenderness from his family. His mother beats him daily with a bamboo branch for being late. He's also malnourished. He's either ignored or belittled by his entire family. "Obey, Duty, Honor." The Taiwanese mantra has been hard for Saburo. His parents believe he's responsible for his little brother's death when Saburo was just 5 years old. If it wasn't for Toru, his Doctor cousin, Saburo would have died several times. Thus is the story of Saburo. He has to struggle to get enough to eat, to get an education, and to find his childhood love, Yoshiko. And he finds her. She is with his older brother. Yoshiko is his girl. The Third Son is a coming of age story. It is also a survival story, and we root for the underdog - Saburo. It is also the love story of Saburo and Yoshiko. Is that love story the one he wants and dreams of, or that of a love for a sister? You'll have to read The Third Son to find out.Julie Wu's debut novel is a wonderful story, and is well written. However, the Saburo in Part 1 is not the Saburo in Part 2. And that frustrated me. He seems to have lost all confidence in himself away from Toru and Yoshiko. It seemed that Wu was telling us readers that Saburo was weak and nothing without them, and that's not the case. In the last 25% of the novel we see the real Saburo, and that Saburo is strong, loving, and confident even in the face of a family betrayal. The ending was satisfactory, but it felt a bit lacking. I really can't explain what was lacking, but my heart wasn't swelling that possibly good guys don't necessarily finish last.

  • Diane
    2019-04-14 05:08

    Review published at knows little of his parents’ love. At five, he is blamed for the death of his brother; he is regularly beaten, and starved. A lonely child, he has little interest in school, preferring to discover the secrets of nature. Saburo lives in Taiwan, an island nation that had been ruled by the Japanese for nearly 50 years. At the end of World War II, however, it was handed to the Republic of China, the government displaced by the Chinese Communists. It was not a peaceful transfer of power. During an air attack, eight year-old Saburo finds himself running for his life with an enchanting girl named Yoshiko. She would become the love of his life. But it is a long and twisted path until they meet again. Saburo ricochets between fear of challenging the old ways that bind him to a cruel family and a quixotic passion to live free in America. Many teens will appreciate his need to break from his cultural obligation to his parents. And his impossible dreams rely on his own intelligence and drive to accomplish. This beautifully told coming-of-age story takes readers from Taiwan, a nation inflicted with a perpetual identity crisis, to the United States, where a dreamer like Saburo can accomplish the impossible. Teens who enjoyed William Kamkwamba’s The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope (Morrow, 2009) will also enjoy Saburo’s fictional odyssey.

  • Anna Mills
    2019-04-06 07:19

    Saburo is a young boy in Taiwan during the flux of governing change. And his father is a superior in local government and particularly uninterested in Saburo while saving his admiration for his older brother possibly because they are both asses while Saburo is a gentle soul. He grows up in the chaos of regime change, falls desperately in love early on and pursues Yoshiko in spite of his meddling brother. His goal is America and he gets there by using his scholastic ability with no help from his family other than Yoshiko who has complete faith in him. Once in America he has to overcome his sensitivity to conquer immigrant life and rise by his very wits in the academic pursuits. He eventually brings his wife and new son to America where they work together to further his aspirations.I found it incredibly interesting to read about his reactions to his new experiences in America and how he obscessed and struggled and second guessed himself to conquer every obstacle. An altogether wonderful story, especially captivating because it is written in the first person and you will become captivated by him and his soul. I did NOT want to part with it. Very intense and I highly recommend.

  • Lori
    2019-04-16 05:30

    This novel takes place in Taiwan during one of its most turbulent periods... as the Chinese Nationalist take control from Japan after WWII!!! The reader gets to experience the challenges of these political changes through a boy named Saburo... he is a wonderfully created character that you root for throughout his struggle to defy the social norms and political injustices that threaten to dictate his life!!! I loved him... very good book!!!

  • Carol
    2019-04-06 07:18

    The Third Son by Julie Wu is a book that you will have trouble laying down. I was reading another book at the same time and I started reading a token chapter each night because I was so enthralled by the story. This is a coming of age story unlike any others. It starts in 1943 in Taiwan during the Japanese occupation.His family used Japanese names so that they could get better food rations. The school children could only use the Japanese language in school and all their textbooks were in Japanese. He was the third son, mortally afraid of his father and very terrified of his mother but he wouldn’t let her know. The first son, Kazuo was continuously spoiled and praised, the second son found his niche in sports but Saburo was the scorned one. He was a dreamer and often looked at the clouds other things outside instead of studying at school and home. Years before, he used to take his younger brother outside to play. One day, they returned home and his brother got sick and died. Saburo was reminded of it every day with the beatings from his mother. By the time that he got his portion of food there was not much, his brother always got the best. So Saburo was malnourished.Saburo was at school when he saw the American planes coming on an air raid, then everyone saw them and the school teacher stood at the door as the children poured out of the building. In the forest, Saburo meets a girl about his age name Yoshinko. She tells him stories of her loving family, of a father who brings her moachi, a rice cake with sweet fillings. They agree that the peanut ones are the best (Mine too!) He becomes enchanted by her and dreams of her and her wonderful family. When Japan is bombed by the United States, they lose Taiwan and it goes to the losers in China as a booby prize. Huge changes come with the Nationalists. One day, his name is Saburo the next day it is a Chinese name that his father announced to him. But many changes that Taiwanese will never forget.This novel takes you through a part of Taiwanese history and the horrors of the Nationalist’s take over. You see America through the eyes of some one wanted to escape his family and political intrigue. Will his father ever respect him? Will he win Yoshinko’s heart? What will become of him?I highly recommend this book to all who are interested in Chinese culture, Taiwanese history and how the struggles of boy determined to get food, love and respect.I received this book from the Library Thing as a win but that in no way influenced my thoughts or feelings in this review.

  • Toni Osborne
    2019-04-27 07:24

    This novel is the debut novel for Ms. Wu, a vision she had years ago of a little boy in Taiwan. After years pushing words around it finally was published. Her best source was her father’s vivid memories of his unhappy childhood. He became Saburo Tong, the third son in this beautifully written fiction.The family saga begins in 1943 when the Americans bombed Japanese occupied Taiwan and effortlessly we slip into Saburo’s world, an emotional journey, where he is cruelly made the scapegoat of his family. With great authority Ms. Wu depicts the tumultuous and violent period of Taiwanese history when one autocracy replaces another. The riveting blend of lives governed by family tradition and culture and the determination of boy to free himself makes one of the most beautifully written story I have read in a very long time. The story has two parts: the first takes place from 1943-1957 in Taiwan and part two is the adult part: takes place from 1957-1962 with Saburo in the USA.The tone of the novel isn't melancholy but optimistic and gay. Not only the plot is well developed we have a compelling themes of sibling rivalry and romance. In addition the characters are well- defined and believable and it easy to cheer for Saburo, dislike his family, and admire his virtuous girlfriend. I love books written in the first person, it is deeply effective. This book is a page-turner, a rich and luxurious read I enjoyed immensely.

  • Miz
    2019-03-27 03:27

    Oh man, this book started off so well - a family saga that starts in Taiwan and transcends time and boundaries. I loved the younger story and the twists and turns. The characterisations were strong and believable and the rich historical background which I knew little of before this book was strongly told and believable. This was a strong 4 stars.But, then when the protagonist moved to America the story become long and drawn out. It was implausible and just plan boring/snoozeworthy. The characters weren’t at all believable and the American “dream” was so implausible that the book dropped to 2.5 stars; a noticeable change. This downgraded the story to I felt very much that this book was one of two halves – the author/publisher could have stopped the book at the end of Taiwanese story, and made a sequel of the American setting which rich characters and stories. This could have been similar to the The Bronze Horseman trilogy after they left Russia, and could have spanned a couple of generations. But sadly by the end of the book I was irritable and wanting it to finish.Overall score - 3/5. First half much better than second half.(I received a free e-copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review and opinion).

  • Donna
    2019-03-28 07:21

    3.5 stars, but I will round up because I love a great underdog.This was a classic "root for the underdog" book. The MC's family was horrific and as much as he wanted to be truly seen by them, it just wasn't going to happen. The one thing that bugged me about that, is the author tries to throw in a small piece of resolution at the end and it felt wrong. I loved the flow of the story. It bounced around a bit, but that didn't bother me so much because the plot was tightly focused. I also liked that this book showed the good, the bad and the ugly. It had great balance when it came to that. I also liked the fact that the characters all evolved in their own way.

  • Jill
    2019-04-17 06:29

    One of the joys of reading is being instantly transported to far-away places and recent, yet removed times of history. Few Americans are intimately familiar with the embattled post-World War II Taiwan – once Japanese-occupied and now given to the Nationalist Chinese as a sort of booby prize. But the history is lush and heartbreaking and Julie Wu has a great chance to educate her readers.The novel centers on two key characters – Saboro, the least favored third son of a self-important father and his love Yoshiko, who shuns the advances of his oldest and mean-spirited brother who is on a fast track to success. After suffering through a childhood straight out of Dickens, Saboro wins a coveted engineering scholarship to the United States, right at the time when American scientists are in full fervor over the space program.This debut novel explores the dualities that continually pull Sabaro in different directions – “aware of convention but burdened by it”…pulled by the traditional legacies of family and the personal freedoms of American life…of reaching his most-cherished goals while feeling tethered to his responsibilities as a new husband and father. On another level, it’s about the brutalities and limitations of the past and the promise of a limitless future.Julie Wu writes in an engaging and fluid style that draws the reader in with her often riveting story of a man who beats the odds. The biggest problem, for me is that Saburo’s trajectory began to strain credibility. Almost like Forrest Gump, he is consistently in the right place at the right time, and always managing to prevail in the most strained moments. On one hand, I found myself rooting for him and hoping that he would emerge a winner; on the other, I began to almost wish he had stronger setbacks that mimicked what would likely happen in real life.I recommend this journey to others, especially for the insights into Taiwanese life and politics, which ring very authentic, and for the fine writing. I wish I were able to recommend it more unconditionally.

  • Tiera San
    2019-04-04 03:10

    I LOVED this book. The protagonist in the book is a boy named Saburo, he is the third son in a wealthy family and also the rebel child in the family. The book mainly takes place in Taoyuan (Peach Garden), Taiwan. It is under Japanese occupation and after they are defeated in WWII they are then acquired by the Chinese Nationalist Party. I really enjoyed the way Wu incorporated Taiwanese history into the story, it was if you were transported to that time . I took a course called Modern Japanese and Korean Literature in college and I could picture the struggle between the Japanese on one side and the Taiwanese on the other. Saburo has to endure emotional, physical and psychological abuse at the hands of his own family. In teaching they tell you that it only takes that one person to inspire greatness, and that person is Toru his cousin. He saved Saburo from a poisonous snake and then gifts him a book called "The Earth" and this is what sparks his interest with science. There are many obstacles that lay ahead of them but he soon will overcome them with a bit of luck and some determination. Alongside Toru, Saburo also gets support from his childhood love Yoshiko. She is a beautiful, well educated determined and feisty. Saburo fought for her, and she would fought for him and his dreams. I loved everything about her, she was there for Saburo through all the things that his family and life throw at him. She had complete faith that he would achieve his dreams even when they took him to another country. Saburo frustrated me with his dedication to his father despite all of the horrible things that he had did to him, but Yoshiko was there to pick up the pieces. If you want a story of romance, the pursuit of happiness and the clash between cultures this book is for you. I devoured this book in two days, so it is safe to say that I really enjoyed it.

  • Megan
    2019-04-25 00:03

    Not your average 1940s Japanese story (if there is one). Begins in 1943, World War II, not from the perspective of Japanese internment camps rather air strikes in occupied Taiwan right before it was handed over to the Chinese National Army. As you may guess, being the third son is not a glamorous thing, and in Saburo’s case this is definitely true. Short end of the stick for everything except discipline. However, he is smart determined boy with strong moral compass and tongue at times. Yoshiko, the co-star of the book, enjoys a much more fulfilling family life, not without struggles. The two meet by chance as schoolchildren dawdling home after class, then are caught unaware in an airstrike. From this point on, their relationship becomes central to the story line with them reuniting, in all places, a pharmacy. It seems the more I live and do and read the more connections I find with books. Who would have thought a pharmacy could be the spot to find romance… oh wait, that is what I did. Hee hee….. I won’t spoil the book this time, just know that you will hope rooting for the good guy pays off and be prepared feel a little let down, as this book is from a realist’s perspective. Julie Wu does a great job illustrating that there is hope that even if you family messed up the nurture portion, there is good nature in all of us, somewhere.

  • Abbey Hambaum
    2019-03-30 05:04

    For my war story, I read The Third Son, by Julie Wu. This is a work of historical fiction, set during a pivotal time in Taiwan’s history when the island is in the process of being taken over by the nationalists run by Chiang Kai-shek. The book is narrated by Saburo, the third son and least favorite child of a Taiwanese politician. His entire family hates him because he was with his younger brother when he died, and they blame his death on Saburo, even though he was a child and couldn’t do anything to prevent it. When Saburo was a young boy, there was an air raid, and he was in a field. A beautiful girl his age ran by, and he helped her get to safety. He didn’t see her again for many years, but he always remembered Yoshiko, the beautiful girl. Saburo went to a middle school, but he got expelled because he and a few friends drew a picture of his teacher on the board making fun of him and he was the only one who admitted to the wrong-doings. The date on which that happened was February 28, also known as the day on which the White Terror attacks happened. That was the day that began Taiwan’s martial ruling that lasted many years. As he got older, he became weaker and more malnourished day by day because he only got the leftover scraps after everyone else in his family had eaten. His cousin Toru who was a doctor came by one day and immediately took Saburo to his clinic to give him injections to make him stronger which he continued to take for many years. Saburo ended up going to a high school and becoming very tall and consequently, the school’s track star. One day at a meet, he saw the beautiful girl Yoshiko again, only she was with his older brother, Kazuo, whom Saburo hated because he always got everything, now including “his” girl. Saburo talked to Yoshiko right before he went to run, and they arranged a date for the next day. The two eventually fall in love and get married and have a son. Right after they marry, Saburo takes an exam that will send him to America with a scholarship program if he passes. Only one in 5,000 from Taiwan have ever passed the exam a year, and they are always from the same university, which Saburo did not go to. Against all odds, however, Saburo passes the exam and leaves for America when his son is only eight weeks old. The rest of the book tells us all about Saburo’s adventures in America where he plans to get his masters degree in electrical engineering in one year, and then bring his family over and study pharmaceutics because that is what his family has told him to do. But once he arrives in America, he realizes that it is the land of opportunity and change, and people change their minds all the time on simple things and also big decisions, including careers. He is determined to not be ruled by his family, and goes on his own journey instead with still the one goal in mind - to bring his family over to a new and better life. At first, I had a hard time getting into the story, because the first part is mostly Saburo complaining about his family life and the condition of Taiwan, which I honestly didn’t care about that much. However, when he made it to America and began telling of his adventures there, I became hooked. I love historical fiction, and I read it often, so the I am not unfamiliar with the genre, but I typically only read World War II historical fiction, so it was kind of nice to have a change of setting and time period for once, although, I’ll admit again that I had trouble with it at first. I also read this book because the country I have for my Global Issues projects is Taiwan, and I was able to read this for one of the assignments as well. The big idea word that I would assign to this book is determination. The main character Saburo is so determined to get what he wants, and he is willing to do just about whatever it takes to get it. He is determined to stay alive, even when it seems impossible due to literal hunger for physical nourishment and figurative hunger for love and attention. He is determined to get the girl that he has not stopped thinking about his whole life since the day he first saw her. He is determined to get a good education, even if it means leaving his wife and newborn son. He is determined to bring his family over to America so they can have a better life. He is also determined to show his father that he is able to make his own decisions, even if it means going against his will. When Saburo first arrives in America, he is at someone’s house in San Francisco and is visiting with his friend who is a professor at a nearby university and also from Taiwan. The professor learns that Saburo has plans to go to Ann Arbor by Greyhound Bus to deliver a package from his older brother to a friend there. His hosts all think that he is crazy because why would anyone go to all that trouble when they could just mail it? Saburo insists on going anyway because he wants to see the country, so the Professor Hong asks Saburo to deliver a letter to one of his friends who teaches at the University of Michigan and might have some work for him to do in his field of interest. Saburo realizes that in America, he does have a choice in what he choses to do, and no one else can change his opinion. He says, “I had worked, fought so hard to get here, because of what Toru had told me while he assaulted the venom that ran through my veins: that America was the land of personal freedom, the land of making your own choices. I was here and Hong needed help. And I wanted to meet Ni Wen-chong (Wu, 145).” Another instance in which Saburo is determined is near the end when his father came over to America to visit for four months and he insisted on seeing the entire country. He made Saburo drive at least five hours every day just for his entertainment. When they finally arrived back home where Saburo and his family were living in South Dakota, he told his father that he had had enough of playing his games and catering to his every want. He tells his father, “Personal freedom. In America, it’s valued higher than life (Wu, 292).” This shows that he was determined enough to even stand up to his father who had taken away his personal freedom all his life, and now he was determined to get it back by living out his own life in America where it is possible.

  • Caroline
    2019-03-31 06:02

    Japan's occupation of Taiwan comes to an end when they lose the war and have to relinquish Taiwan to Chiang Kai Shek's Nationlists. The transition isn't an easy one and Taiwan is embroiled in a period of unrest and violence as the Nationalists struggle to govern the Taiwanese and erase all evidence of Japanese culture among the people. Saburo, the third and least loved son of a Taiwanese politician, is constantly emotionally and physically abused by his mother. Hunger is all he seems to know, despite his family's relatively wealthy position in Taoyuan. Desperate to win some, any favor with his family, to earn a kind word from his parents and to win the heart of his first love from his eldest brother and biggest rival, Saburo single-mindedly and against all odds, earns a place at an American university in South Dakota. While in America, he battles loneliness when he thinks of the wife and baby he had to leave behind in Taiwan living with his family and frustration with his own self-doubts. It takes news of his wife's devastating illness and his family's ill-treatment of her that gives him the impetus to take matters into his own hands, to shrug off his family's unhealthy grip on him, to battle against his eldest brother's sly schemes and to choose his own path, to earn his own self-respect as well as that of his mentors, his wife and ultimately, his father.

  • Eleni
    2019-04-19 05:13

    My favorite thing about this book, set in Taiwan and the US in the middle of the last century, was the voice of the protagonist, which kept me wrapped up in the story. It's written in the first person perspective of the main character (he changes names with the vagaries of the political situation in Taiwan, so I'm not even going to attempt to use either of his), and when the story begins, he's a child. Normally, I don't like books written from the point of view of a child (they often end up sounding like sitcom kids, they way adults think children sound but inevitably real children are smarter and less cutesy), but I found the voice really compelling and the character so likable that I really cared about what happens to him. And as the character grew older, the writing stayed just as authentic and appealing. A few of the other characters are not as fully developed and, especially when the main character moves to the US, the culture that motivates these characters' actions seems so remote that they come off as just plain evil, but that's a minor quibble. Overall, I really enjoyed the style, and I learned a lot about mid-century Taiwan without even realizing that I was being taught. It's sort of a quiet story about living in loud times, and I liked that contrast.

  • Marti
    2019-03-27 05:12

    This book was a gem! At its core, this was a love story but there was much more to it than simply that. At the book’s opening, it is 1943 and eight year old Saburo and his classmates have been ordered to flee the school as an American plane attacks. While fleeing, Saburo meets Yoshiko and learns from her that some families are warm and loving unlike his own. Almost daily, Saburo’s mother finds some reason to beat him with a bamboo switch, his father never smiles, and he is given far less food in quality and quantity than his six siblings. Despite the hardships, Saburo has an indomitable spirit. Though he loses track of Yoshiko for many years, he eventually finds her and ultimately marries her. He realizes his dream of going to America but in doing so must endure a four year from his wife and child. Life for him is never easy but ultimately the message seems to be that nice guys really don’t always have to finish last.

  • Jenni Buchanan
    2019-04-15 04:10

    This book has all the right ingredients: Strong characters, compelling story, good writing, romance, and fascinating descriptions of foreign customs and history. In spite of all this, it always felt like there was something holding me back from losing myself in the tale of Saburo and his family. Saburo is the third son of the title, unloved and abused by his family, but with an innate intelligence and strength of character that keeps him from falling into despair. Growing up in Japanese occupied Taiwan during WWII, he is able (with the help of his compassionate uncle) to grow into a smart young man, determined to win the hand of his first love, as well as freedom from his family by earning a place at an American University. For a Western reader this book was a journey through the corrupt Taiwanese political structure of the time, the disturbing dynamics of a cruel and heartbroken family, and the persistence personality required to transcend all that.

  • Erin Cashman
    2019-04-10 06:09

    The Third Son has everything I look for in a book: memorable characters, an intriguing plot, wonderful writing and beautiful and evocative settings. The story takes place in a tumultuous and terrifying period of Taiwan’s history, as the Chinese Nationalist Army takes control of the island. It tells the story of Saburo, the least favorite son of a Taiwanese politician. He is unloved and abused by his parents and older brother, but his gentle spirit and strong character enable him to endure. But his life changes one fateful day in the forest, when he meets a young girl, Yoshiko – his first love that he never forgets. Yoshiko helps him become the man he struggles to be as he is torn between his culture and duty and his determination to be free to make his own choices. I highly recommend this dazzling debut by Julie Wu.

  • Chi
    2019-04-17 03:14

    I chose this book because I have a soft spot for Chinese historical novels, and in that aspect, this novel didn't disappoint. I just wished the part where Saburo fought for his freedom in America was more detailed, especially (view spoiler)[after Yoshiko and their son finally came to live with him. (hide spoiler)] The ending felt a bit rushed. This is a great debut work though.

  • Myron Lezak
    2019-04-22 08:30

    Good story of familyThe background of the 1940 - 50's Taiwan and the role of a family treating the third son harshly gives this story a great starting point. America, Sputnik and the development and regrets of family are all intertwined in this very enjoyable novel.

  • John
    2019-04-12 05:06

    One of the best books I've read this year. It flows very easily from page to page weaving a very god tale. Recommended!

  • Jennifer Gilbert
    2019-03-28 02:31

    Enjoyable historical fiction story about Taiwanese family during the Japanese occupation/Chaing Kai Shek era.

  • Karen
    2019-04-15 08:15

    I know next to nothing about the history of Taiwan. Yet it was easy to relate to Saburo's story and his quest for a better life. Well done debut novel.