The Library of Legends

Morrow. May 2020. 400p. ISBN 9780062851505. pap. $16.99. F
In the year 1937, Japanese bombers began raids over China. In an effort to save the lives of the students of Minghua University and the 500-year-old collection of myths and folklore known as the Library of Legends, the university’s teachers make a daring plan: Each student is given one book of the 147–volume collection to carry thousands of miles to China’s western provinces. Nineteen-year-old student Hu Lian undertakes the task not just for the sake of her school and the priceless volumes, but also to find her mother, who was forced out of her home and sought shelter in Shanghai. It soon becomes evident that, in spite of the perils of the journey, the students and teachers seem to be under the protection of supernatural beings, guardian spirits who have been awakened and who also have their own path to take—one that may change China forever.
VERDICT Chang (Dragon Springs Road) has created a lovely novel that is both joyful and lighthearted and deeply tragic as she explores a culture and people who are forced to accept that their country will never be the same following the war and the departure of the spirits that protected their land for centuries.
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