ages: 14 and up
grades: 8-9 and up
years: 10 and up
on sale: now
copy from: library
title: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
author: Lisa See
Lily is haunted by memories–of who she once was, and of a person, long gone, who defined her existence. She has nothing but time now, as she recounts the tale of Snow Flower, and asks the gods for forgiveness.
In nineteenth-century China, when wives and daughters were foot-bound and lived in almost total seclusion, the women in one remote Hunan county developed their own secret code for communication: nu shu (“women’s writing”). Some girls were paired with laotongs, “old sames,” in emotional matches that lasted throughout their lives. They painted letters on fans, embroidered messages on handkerchiefs, and composed stories, thereby reaching out of their isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments.
With the arrival of a silk fan on which Snow Flower has composed for Lily a poem of introduction in nu shu, their friendship is sealed and they become “old sames” at the tender age of seven. As the years pass, through famine and rebellion, they reflect upon their arranged marriages, loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their lifelong friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.
I finished reading this a couple of days ago, and I can't stop thinking about it. Lily and Snow Flower at this one scene had a "lesbian" encounter, but they're incredibly close, best friends that are portrayed in a way I've never read before. It's beautiful, sad, and haunting at the same time. It made me think if that sort of level of friendship can be achieved today?
It's one of those stories that cover a long period of time, from a very young age into adulthood. I think only in that way can one fully connect with a character and to understand the grand scope of things: that one incident that happened twenty years ago affects great who the character is at this present moment and so on. I love how this story seemed one way at the beginning, when suddenly I realise that it was never that way at all. It's a beautiful transition that made me go "WHOA! OF course! How could I not see?"
Of course, this is on the mature side, with subtle hints about s*x and crude speaking of the act. Yet I managed to get through it without being like "Hoho! This is too inappropriate" I think it's because the amount of s*x in books is becoming more acceptable for younger audiences, nevertheless.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan has a classically Asian style of writing that's honest, beautiful, and absolutely impacting. Incredibly haunting and highly recommended: