Two Trees Make a Forest: In Search of My Family’s Past Among Taiwan’s Mountains and Coasts

Catapult. Aug. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9781646220007. pap. $16.95. SOC SCI
In this latest work, Lee (Turning) offers a touching memoir-cum-travelog that connects the physical environment and history of Taiwan to the story of her family. As a child growing up in Canada, Lee was not very familiar with the maternal Chinese/Taiwanese side of her family. Her window into that world was visits to her grandparents’ home where she communicated with them in limited Mandarin. The death of her grandfather sparked an interest to learn about their lives, and to gain a better understanding of her identity. Her grandfather’s letters, discussions with her grandmother and mother, as well as a sojourn to Taiwan helped her put together some of the pieces. This book alternates between various time lines, telling the story of her grandparents’ lives from China to Taiwan to Canada, while also describing the author’s exploration of the flora and fauna of Taiwan’s mountains and coasts.
VERDICT A poignant and beautifully written account of family, time, and place. Readers of Rowan Hisayo Buchanan’s Go Home!, which discusses home and belonging from the perspective of the Asian diaspora, or Anna Sherman’s The Bells of Old Tokyo, which explores a place alternately in the present and the past, will also enjoy.
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