When we think of the second world war, images of the battles of Stalingrad, Iwo Jima, Normandy and the Holocaust often come to mind. Although an exact number is hard to come by, it is widely believed and agreed that more than 6 millions Jews died during the war. The Final Solution nearly eradicated all of Europe’s Jewish population. Japan in seeking to establish its own sphere of influence, invaded China resulting in the deaths of millions of Chinese men, women and children. Cities such as Nanking and Shanghai were almost completely destroyed. Stories of the atrocities committed by the Japanese army became known as far as the west and to this day are a source of the strained relationship between China and Japan. Following the war, millions of European and Asian survivors immigrated to other parts of world including the United States. Among these was a young couple and their five children in search of a better life in America.
Veronica Li is the author of three books and was once a journalist for the Wall Street Journal. It is here that we are told the story of her mother’s life in her mother’s own words. Li turns over control of the book and her mother tells her life story in an autobiographical format. After reading this book, it quickly became one of my favorites and for good reason. Her story begins when her mother Flora, is a young woman studying in Beijing during the second world war. The Japanese army has already started its assault on China with bombings, shootings and pillage becoming their tools of the trade. Flor remains determined and finishes her studies before beginning a career of her own. It is at the point where she meets her future husband that her life changes and the story changes courses resulting in the title of the book. She becomes the mother of five children, one of whom struggles in education. Faced with limited opportunity for growth and no course of remedy, Flora and Hok Ching make the decision to leave China and move to the United States, making the journey across the four seas. Their story is one that is common to millions of immigrants that have come to the United States to live the American dream. For those of us who are natives to America, it may be hard to fathom moving a family of seven to a new country with a new language. But the actions of Flora and Hok exemplify the power of will and determination. And as more immigrants are faced with a life altering decision to leave the only place they have called home, some can look back at this masterpiece and find inspiration and reassurance in their decision to make the move of a lifetime.
This is Flora’s story about life if the Far East, war, education, love and family. So take a step back in time and join Flora and her family as they make the journey of a lifetime.