Release Date: January 1st, 2013
Genre: Young Adult-Historical
Description from Goodreads: A fiery and romantic adventure, perfect for fans of Grace Lin, Kristen Cashore, or Lisa See!
Jade Moon is a Fire Horse -- the worst sign in the Chinese zodiac for girls, said to make them stubborn, willful, and far too imaginative. But while her family despairs of marrying her off, she has a passionate heart and powerful dreams, and wants only to find a way to make them come true.
Then a young man named Sterling Promise comes to their village to offer Jade Moon and her father a chance to go to America. While Sterling Promise's smooth manners couldn't be more different from her own impulsive nature, Jade Moon falls in love with him on the long voyage. But America in 1923 doesn't want to admit many Chinese, and when they are detained at Angel Island, the "Ellis Island of the West," she discovers a betrayal that destroys all her dreams. To get into America, much less survive there, Jade Moon will have to use all her stubbornness and will to break a new path . . . one as brave and dangerous as only a Fire Horse girl can imagine.
Review: Well this was a nice surprise! This book received a couple of positive reviews from my friends, but only a few read it, and there has not been a ton of hype or blogging activity over this book. And that is a damn shame. Because The Fire Horse Girl is possible my favorite read of 2013 so far. I know, I know, I only gave it 4 stars, but what it does have in minor flaws, it makes up for in originality, creativity, and bad-ass writing.
Jade Moon is the type of protagonist I am always searching for but rarely find. When the story begins she is in the Chinese village she has grown up in. Jade moon is a Fire Horse girl (fire sign born in the year of the horse) and according to Chinese astrology, this means her family is cursed. If she stays in Guangdong Province, she is doomed to be married to a 4th son bricklayer because that is the best match her family can obtain for her. So when the opportunity arises for her to immigrate to America, she takes it.
And this is just the beginning. The prose is utterly gorgeous and captivating. I loved Jade's voice and characterization. She was strong, a fighter, and determined to stand up for herself in a completely patriarchal society. Which brings me to my next point. The Fire Horse Girl is well-researched and historically accurate. You will not likely enjoy the male characters in this book. As annoying as this is, it is as it should be. Because unfortunately females in China during this time were seen as the lesser sex and had to answer to the men in their lives. I just want to warn any female readers going into this one. That if this is not something you can handle, I would not recommend this book for you.
One other complaint? I didn't much care for the way one plot thread was concluded. I wish I could talk about it, but without giving spoilers, I cannot. If you have read the book though and wish to discuss this with me, I'd be happy to.
This book was rich in atmosphere; each new setting was brilliantly rendered, and the book was exciting enough to keep me flipping from page to page and I never once wanted to put it down. There was a portion of the book towards the halfway point--the immigration section--that was a little slow for me, but I found it interesting enough to keep turning the pages even so. I feel like I learned a lot from this book, and I had really no interest in visiting San Francisco, but now I do. WHOA. I must see Chinatown!
I highly recommend this book to almost any reader. And you guys know how much I love Asian fiction. The ones I have been reading lately have let me down, but not this one. It was fabulous. I would even reread it if I had time. Unfortunately I don't, but I don't think you will be disappointed with this one if you decide to read it. It pretty much blew me away!