Letters in the Jade Dragon Box (Hardcover)

by Gale Sears

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Truth. In mainland China from 1949 to 1976, truth is all but eradicated, suppressed and supplanted by the iron will of Mao Tse-tung. Millions of people suffer untold anguish as their history, their culture, and their lives are brought under communist rule. Many flee to Taiwan and Hong Kong.

As a child, Chen Wen-shan was taken from her family home in mainland China and sent to live with her great-uncle — a former general in the Nationalist Chinese army who had become one of the first converts to the LDS Church in Hong Kong. For ten years, Wen-shan has carried the sorrow of abandonment in her heart, with few memories of her life before. But at the death of Chairman Mao, fifteen-year-old Wen-shan receives a mysterious wooden box that holds a series of beautiful paintings and secret letters that reveal the fate of the family she has not heard from in more than a decade.

As Wen-shan and her great-uncle read the letters in the jade dragon box, they discover an unbreakable bond between each other, their family — both past and present — and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Letters in the Jade Dragon Box is a beautifully written LDS historical novel inspired by the real-life experiences of one man who was offered truth that would heal his heart, his spirit, and his family. His story helps shed light on a time and a place where, despite all odds, truth refused to be broken.

Product Details

  • Size:  5" x 8"
  • Pages:  296
  • Published:  September 2011
  • Book on CD:  Unabridged
  • Run Time:  Approx. 427 minutes

About the Author

Gale Sears is an award-winning author, known for her historical accuracy and intensive research. Gale received a BA in playwriting from Brigham Young University and a master’s degree in theater arts from the University of Minnesota. She is the author of the bestselling The Silence of God, Letters in the Jade Dragon Box, and several other novels, including The Route, Christmas for a Dollar, Autumn Sky, Until the Dawn, and Upon the Mountains. She and her husband, George, are the parents of two children and reside in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Chapter 1

September 9, 1976

It begins with a death. Thousands of people mourn. Thousands of people celebrate. Hundreds of thousands of people precede him to the grave—a grave he dug for them in China’s sacred soil.

• • •

For Chen Wen-shan, the day began normally with a breakfast of cornflakes and a scowl from her great-uncle. But at school, things changed. Her friend Song Li-ying was absent, which had never happened in their school years together, and her teacher Mrs. Yang broke one of her own classroom rules by looking at the clock every five minutes. And at three o’clock, the school’s intercom system came screeching to life, interrupting the physics lesson. The principal’s voice, normally brusque and strong, hesitated. “Word—word has reached Hong Kong that just after midnight last night, the Chairman of China, Mao Tse-tung—died.”

Snap. The intercom went off.

Wen-shan sat very still, her hand pressed flat on her work papers. No one moved or made a sound. All eyes were on Mrs. Yang as though she would explain everything.

Mao Tse-tung is dead? What does that mean?

Someone’s pencil rolled off their desk and clinked onto the linoleum floor. The teacher’s mouth opened, but no words came out. The intercom scratched to life again and everyone jumped—even Mrs. Yang.

“School will close early today. Classes cancelled.”

Snap. The intercom went off.

One young man stood abruptly and left the classroom, forgetting his books and his jacket.

Wen-shan looked around and saw mass movement as her classmates stood. She stood with them. She gathered her books and papers into her schoolbag. Mrs. Yang stared at her watch and Wen-shan could see her jaw working to control her emotions. No one spoke to the teacher as they exited.

Wen-shan reached the outside of the school and ran. Eight blocks to her house and she ran all the way. As she neared home, she saw Song Li-ying framed by the half-moon arch of the courtyard wall. She stood by the front gate, waving a paper. She didn’t talk or call out, only waved her paper.

“Li Li, what is it?”

The paper waved again.

Wen-shan stopped to open the gate, but Li-ying shoved the note forward—a section ripped from the paper. Wen-shan read it.

“Yes, I know. Chairman Mao is dead. They told us at school.”

Her friend blinked as though the sun was too bright. “The Stone Boy is dead,” she whispered.

Wen-shan’s heart beat faster. The Stone Boy is dead.

“Where were you today?” Wen-shan asked as she shoved open the gate. The girls moved into the courtyard.

“Father found out the news early this morning. He thought it safer if I stayed home.”

Wen-shan glanced to the bungalows on the left and right of the yard, but none of her neighbors seemed to be home. She continued down the curving path to the bungalow she shared with her great-uncle. She knew he wouldn’t be home. He was at the furniture store taking care of things for the British owner.

Wen-shan moved up the steps to the small porch and unlocked the front door. Li-ying hesitated on the landing. “Come in, Li Li. He’s not here to frighten you.”

The girls removed their shoes and entered the cool interior of the house. It was dim and smelled lightly of sandalwood incense. Wen-shan put her schoolbag in her room and went to the kitchen for a snack. She found almond cookies, took a handful, and gave three to Li-ying.

“I think we should go down to the main street and see what’s happening.”

Li-ying agreed and the two girls ran several blocks to the main street. They saw many people talking excitedly together—some were crying, some pressing hands to their heads in prayer and looking at the sky. There were firecrackers everywhere. Long red ropes of firecrackers hung from third-story balconies, popping and cracking, the fire climbing the bundles like a ladder. The noise was terrible and wonderful. The smoke rose, explosions shredding the delicate red paper. The friends tried to catch the paper as it floated lazily through the air, landing on the heads of the celebrators, the taxi cycles, and the rough street. So much paper. The little children kicked it into great piles.

“Wen-shan, look at that!”

Wen-shan followed her friend’s gaze. Mrs. Wong, from the Golden Door Bakery, was handing out good-fortune buns. The two raced to stand in line.

“All Hong Kong is full of joy today!” Mrs. Wong cried as she held out the steaming basket. “Take one! No charge.”

Li-ying and Wen-shan looked at each other with wide eyes. This must be a spectacular day. Mrs. Wong had never given away any of her bakery goods for free. Wen-shan remembered that her friend Jun-jai always called Mrs. Wong “the crafty businesswoman.” “Ah, that Mrs. Wong—she could sell fish to the mermaids.” That was what he always said.

Wen-shan shoved the soft steamed bun into her mouth and hummed with delight as she tasted the sweet filling. Just as she was reaching for another bun, she saw the tall, lanky body of her friend Wei Jun-jai moving down the street. He held his transistor radio to his ear.

Wen-shan grabbed Li-ying’s hand. “Come on! Let’s catch up to Jun-jai. He might have news.”

Firecrackers popped at their feet, and they squealed with delight.

“Jun-jai! Stop! Wait for us!”

Jun-jai turned his head from side to side as though he had heard his name, but with all the noise he couldn’t be sure. He shrugged and continued his travels. Wen-shan shoved past several people to catch him.

“Hey!” a man in a business suit complained. “Hey, little chubby girl, stop trying to push people out of your way.”

Wen-shan grew sullen at his words. “Stop being a Capitalist Roader!” she yelled back at him as she headed for the intersection where Jun-jai had stopped.

The man spat out a rude remark, and Li-ying grabbed Wen-shan’s arm. “Wen-shan, you must not say terrible things like that to people.”

“Well, he said a terrible thing to me.”

“But you are only fifteen. You must be respectful of your elders.”

“Old-school thinking.”

Li-ying stopped; her beautiful dark eyes were full of anger. “Not old-school thinking. I have been taught manners, that’s all.”

“Jun-jai!” Wen-shan called again. “Wait!” She started forward. “Hurry, we’re losing him!”

“I don’t care. I’m going home.” Li-ying turned away.

Wen-shan swallowed her pride. It slid down her throat like bitter gingerroot. “Wait! Wait! I’m sorry. Really, I am. It’s just that he called me a chubby girl. It made me angry. You don’t know what that feels like. You are like a willow branch.”

Li-ying glared at her. “Yes, but I get insulted too, for my glasses and my crooked teeth. Does that mean I have to call my tormentors terrible Communist names?”

“Well, I . . .”

“Especially on a day like today?”

“Hey! Wen-shan. Li-ying. Were you calling me?” Jun-jai waved as he walked forward. He maneuvered around two elders who were arguing about the day’s events.

Wen-shan waved back. “Yes. We didn’t think you heard us.” She thought Jun-jai looked very hip in his American-cut pants and white buttoned shirt. He had the sleeves rolled up, and she thought that his wristwatch made him seem older than sixteen—more like eighteen. She was glad they had been friends since childhood, because if they met today, she doubted he would have even given her a glance.

As he approached, Li-ying tried to hide behind her friend. Wen-shan pulled her to her side. They smiled at Jun-jai.

“We wondered if you’ve heard any more news about Chairman Mao’s death. Do we know what he died of?”

Li-ying shook her head. “Wen-shan, how can you talk about death so offhandedly?”

“That’s not offhanded. That’s practical.”

Jun-jai turned off his radio. “Not much news. All we know for sure is that he’s gone to meet his ancestors.”

“I wonder what they will think of him?” Wen-shan’s attention was diverted by the harsh words between the two elders. “What’s their problem?”

Jun-jai turned to listen. “The one is saying the celebrations are too dangerous. There are many communists in the city who will cause problems.” He turned back. “Like the agitation in ’67.”

Wen-shan snorted. “Hong Kong is not their domain.”

Li-ying grimaced.

“Ah! Li-ying, you of all people should be glad the Stone Boy is dead. Wasn’t your family run out of China because of him?”

Jun-jai spoke up. “‘Ching Duke of Ch’i had a thousand teams of horses; but the people, on his death day, found nought in him to praise.’”

Wen-shan laughed at Jun-jai, and he laughed with her. “Ah! Jun-jai, the great student of Confucius!”

The tension was broken and a smile brushed the corner of Li-ying’s mouth. “Just like your uncle, Wen-shan. He is also a great student of Confucius, yes?”

Wen-shan stopped laughing. A car sped by, and she watched it, pretending not to have heard.

“How is your uncle?” Jun-jai asked.

Wen-shan cleared her throat to blunt her irritation. “Fine, I suppose. I don’t talk to him much.”

“I always like talking to him. He is very wise.”

“Hmm. A wise man who never speaks.” She watched another car pass. “So, where were you going, Jun-jai?”

“To my auntie’s. She is having a big dinner to celebrate. Would you like to come?” He looked at Li-ying. “You’re invited too.”

“Oh . . . oh, very kind of you, Wei Jun-jai,” Li-ying stammered, “but I must return soon to my home. We also are having a family dinner to celebrate.”

He nodded and looked back at Wen-shan. “Does your uncle expect you?”

She chose her words carefully. “I don’t believe so. He is visiting at the home of his British friend. He probably won’t be home until late.”

“Then, if you’d like, come with me. You can telephone him from my auntie’s house.”

“I will not be imposing on your auntie’s generosity?”

“No, of course not, especially not on a special day like today.”

At that moment Wen-shan was not jealous of Song Li-ying and her large family. At that moment she was glad for her old uncle who rarely talked to her except to quote Confucius or some odd Christian scripture. She bowed her head several times. “I would be greatly honored to come to the dinner. Thank you for inviting me, Jun-jai.”

Firecrackers crackled nearby, and the girls squealed and jumped. They laughed and clapped their hands with excitement, thinking that September 9 was a very good day.

Li-ying took her friend’s hand. “I must be going now. I have to stop at the market and buy lychees for my grandfather.”

“Good fortune to your family,” Jun-jai said. He bowed, and Li-ying bowed quickly to cover her blushing face.

“Good fortune to your family,” she replied. She smiled at Wen-shan. “Have a good time.”

“Yes, I will. My heart celebrates with all Hong Kong.”

“And Taiwan,” Li-ying said. “The national flag must be flying high.”

Wen-shan nodded. “Yes, and no black armbands like on the day Chiang Kai-shek died.”

“Don’t be so sure,” Jun-jai interjected. “People will wear them out of show if nothing else, and some will truly mourn. They have chanted Chairman Mao’s name for a long time.”

Wen-shan shrugged. “Well, you may be right. I don’t know that much about it. I just know that I want to celebrate.”

“Yes, we should be on our way,” Jun-jai encouraged.

They waved to Li-ying as she moved off into the crowd.

Wen-shan smiled with satisfaction. An entire afternoon with her friend Jun-jai, eating good food and celebrating with other happy people. For a moment her conscience twisted as she thought of her old uncle, but he was busy at the furniture store and would not miss her. He never missed her.

• • •

Auntie Ting was a bundle of energy, scurrying from kitchen to table as she set out bowls of noodles, plates of vegetables, steamed buns, heaping bowls of rice, platters of sweet glazed chicken, deep-fried fish, and spicy pork knuckles. There were a lucky thirteen people at her table and she beamed at each one as though she hadn’t just spent the day cooking. Wen-shan liked her face.

“Welcome! Welcome!” Auntie Ting said on a sigh as she plopped dramatically into her chair. “So glad you could all be here, and so glad for Jun-jai’s friend, Chen Wen-shan, to join us.” Wen-shan blushed. “She makes number thirteen at our table. Lucky thirteen!”

The old auntie sitting to Wen-shan’s right turned to stare and smile, and Wen-shan tried not to notice the gaps where her teeth should have been.

“Are we lucky or is she lucky?” the old auntie asked as she raised her eyebrows at Jun-jai.

Wen-shan’s embarrassment was interrupted by someone passing her a platter of bok choy. At Auntie Ting’s insistence, she filled her bowl with all the delicious food and was content to eat and listen instead of joining in on any of the conversations. Jun-jai and his brother were talking about President Nixon’s visit to China in 1972—both agreeing that Nixon had been a pawn in the hand of Mao Tse-tung. Auntie Ting complained about the cost of meat. The toothless auntie on Wen-shan’s right was telling ghost stories to a young nephew, and despite her age, the auntie’s voice was rich and expressive, and Wen-shan was captivated. The woman finished one story about a man sleeping on the bones of a skeleton and turned to catch Wen-shan listening.

“Did you like that?”

Wen-shan nodded.

“I can tell you one about an emperor and some angry peasants, if you’d like.”

“Yes, please,” Wen-shan and the nephew said together.

The auntie took a drink of tea and began. “Emperor Chan Lee was taking a trip to the province of Guangxi. He rode on his strong black horse and had many fierce guards behind him.”

When Wen-shan heard the words province of Guangxi, her stomach clenched. Guilin, in the province of Guangxi, was her birthplace and the source of many of her nightmares. She tried to concentrate on other things, but the old woman’s voice wrapped the story in such mystery that Wen-shan could not stop listening.

“Chan Lee was a ruthless emperor, and many innocent people died from his sword and because of his evil programs. As Chan Lee rode along, the Spirit Wind came and whispered in his ear to turn back. The Spirit Wind warned him that many people stood waiting for him on the Hundred Flower Bridge. They were going to take revenge for the wrongs Chan Lee had done to their families.

“Chan Lee laughed at the words of the Spirit Wind. He raised his sword high in the morning light. ‘I have killed many strong men with my sword, and I have my fierce guards behind me,’ he said. ‘Do you think I fear a few starving peasants?’ He rode on through the mountain pass. The path grew shadowed as the sun hid its face behind the high peaks.

“The Spirit Wind now came howling through the pass, shouting into Chan Lee’s ears to turn back! The Spirit Wind warned him that there were even more people waiting for him on the Hundred Flower Bridge and that the river below was dark and angry. Chan Lee lost his temper and slashed at the Spirit Wind with his sword. ‘Leave me alone, you cursed spirit! I am the great Emperor Chan Lee! I have a fierce guard behind me! I have a mighty sword. I would not fear a thousand starving peasants!’

“Immediately the cold Spirit Wind was gone, and in its place a thick gray fog swirled. Chan Lee moved forward, but his fierce guards hesitated. ‘I command you onward, you cowards!’ Chan Lee snapped as he plunged into the fog. His strong black horse squealed with fear and threw Chan Lee from his back. The emperor’s fierce guards ran away. Chan Lee was swallowed by the fog, where he wandered alone for many hours, muttering and cursing his men. He vowed that he would hang them all when he returned to the palace.”

Wen-shan became aware that all other conversations had stopped as everyone turned their attention to the auntie’s story.

“Finally, the Hundred Flower Bridge appeared before him, and a thousand ragged peasants stood at its threshold. The Emperor Chan Lee drew his sword. A poor man stepped forward. ‘You do not frighten us, Chan Lee.’ He moved forward again and the others followed.

“‘You had better fear me!’ yelled Chan Lee. ‘I am the great Emperor Chan Lee, and I have a terrible sword.’

“The crowd pushed forward. Chan Lee stumbled back toward the river. ‘Come any closer and you will feel the sharp edge of my sword,’ he warned.

“A woman rushed toward him, and Chan Lee swung his heavy sword and sliced through her neck, but her head did not leave her body, and the woman laughed. ‘You cannot kill me twice, Chan Lee. I am Nu Gui, and I have a fierce army behind me! Here is Yuan Gui, and You Hun Ye Gui, and Diao Si Gui, and we have fingers of ice.’

“The great emperor screamed in terror as he swung his sword through the bodies of mist. The ghost army advanced, forcing Chan Lee into the dark river. Now he felt the clammy hands of Shui Gui dragging him into the pitiless depths. Chan Lee drank the black water of death, and his great sword fell from his hand and sank into the mud. Nu Gui stood alone by the now-peaceful river. She sang a song of home as she disappeared into the morning sunlight.”

The old auntie looked around solemnly at the listeners, and then a slow smile touched her mouth. Jun-jai started the applause and everyone joined in immediately. Jun-jai leaned over to whisper in Wen-shan’s ear, “She is very wise, that one.”

“Why?” Wen-shan questioned.

“Did you think that story was really about the imaginary Emperor Chan Lee?”

Wen-shan didn’t know what he was talking about, but she didn’t want to appear stupid, so she just nodded her head and said, “Ah, she is quite wise. Tell me more.”

“Well, she certainly knows how to tell two stories at once. Cruel leaders will one day have to answer for their crimes, no matter how well they think they can swim.”

“What does that mean?”

But Jun-jai could not finish his explanation because he was interrupted by his brother standing to leave. Many family members stood to make their polite farewells, and Wen-shan stood with them. Auntie Ting brought Wen-shan her sweater and gave her a bag of almond cookies. “For your walk home.”

Wen-shan took the crisp white bag and bowed several times. “Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of the celebration.”

“Oh, most welcome. Lucky thirteen!”

Wen-shan smiled. “You are a very excellent cook.”

“Ah, that? Just a little family get-together.”

Jun-jai walked up to give his auntie a hug. “Yes, you should see this home during a festival—there is no room to move.”

Auntie Ting slapped his arm. “Ah! You are so American with your teasing.”

“Thank you for the compliment, Auntie.”

Wen-shan bowed to Jun-jai. “And thank you, Jun-jai, for inviting me to dinner.”

Auntie Ting opened the door, and Wen-shan moved out into the narrow apartment hallway.

“Should Jun-jai go with you?” Auntie Ting questioned. “It is getting dark.”

“Oh, no, I’ll be fine. I walk around at night by myself all the time.” Auntie Ting gave her a questioning look. “Really, I’ll be fine. There will be many people out tonight.” Wen-shan walked off down the hallway with the crisp paper of her cookie bag crackling with each step.

When she stepped out onto the street, she turned to the west to find the sun had already set. A moist, cool wind brushed against her neck and made her shiver.

“I have only half a mile to home,” she told herself.

She walked fast, but the ghosts of Nu Gui and Shui Gui floated along behind her. It was almost dark when she saw the wall of her courtyard. She gave a small chirp of gladness and ran. Her almond cookies might have turned to dust, but she didn’t care. She reached the gate, threw it open, and ran through the garden. There was light coming from the front window, so she knew the door would be unlocked.

She flew out of her shoes and yanked open the door. Taking big gulps of air, she quickly closed the door and laid her head against the wood.

“Wen-shan?”

Her great-uncle’s voice made her jump.

He was coming from his room to scold her.

She went quickly to her room, stripping the picture of Zhong Kui, the vanquisher of ghosts, from the wall as she went. “I’m fine, Uncle,” she called. “I have just returned from the dinner with Wei Jun-jai’s family. I’m very tired. I’ll talk to you in the morning.” She knew it was improper not to report in, but she was tired.

Her bedroom door shut as his opened.

Ah, no scolding tonight.

Notes

A brief history of Hong Kong: In the 1700s, the British East India Trading Company traded goods with China. One of the more profitable items traded was opium. British merchants controlled many of China’s port cities. There was a war between China and Britain over the opium trade. Britain prevailed, and in 1842, Hong Kong (which means fragrant harbor) became a colony of the British Empire. First contained to Hong Kong Island, the colony’s boundaries were eventually extended to include the Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories in 1898.

Chinese naming system: The last name is written first, followed by the generational name and then the given name. Mao’s two-part name consists of Tse, which means “to shine on” and tung, which means “the East.”

Stone Boy: In order to not tempt fate with too grand a name, peasant mothers often gave their children a rough, or common, name. Such was the case for Mao Tse-tung. His rough name was Shisan yazi or “Boy of Stone.”

September 9, 1976: The death date of Mao Tse-tung.

Capitalist Roader: Anyone thought to lean toward capitalism, or be on the capitalist road, was called this derogatory name.

Confucius: Born in 551 bc on the Shantung peninsula of China, Confucius was China’s first professional teacher and moral philosopher, and is known today as Asia’s greatest moral and social thinker. Many of his thoughts and teachings were collected in a booklet known as the Analects.

Chiang Kai-shek: Born in 1887 in the Zhejiang province, China, Chiang was a professional military man and a Nationalist chief of staff. He was anti-Soviet and deeply averse to the Soviet socialist dogma of class struggle (dividing society into classes and making them fight each other). In 1927, he became Chairman of the Nationalist Party. He fled to Taiwan when the Communists took over in 1949. He continued to rule the Nationalist Party until his death on April 5, 1975.

Ghost stories: Ghosts play a substantial role in Chinese culture. Ghosts take many forms depending on the way in which the person died. The term for ghost is Gui (pronounced Gweye).

Qweilo: White ghost. Sometimes a person of Caucasian descent is called a qweilo or “white man.”

Nu Gui: The ghost of a woman who had committed suicide due to some injustice.

Yuan Gui: The ghost of someone who died a wrongful death.

You Hun Ye Gui: A wandering ghost of someone who died far away from his home or family.

Diao Si Gui: The ghost of someone who had been hanged.

Shui Gui: The spirit of someone who drowned and continues living in the water.

Zhong Kui: The vanquisher of ghosts and evil beings. Portraits of him are hung in Chinese houses to scare away evil spirits and demons.

Ghost dramas: An ancient dramatic genre which is characterized by tales of revenge by dead victims’ spirits on those who had persecuted them. In China, there is a strong tradition of using historical allusion to voice opposition. In 1963, Mao banned all ghost dramas. To him, those ghost avengers were uncomfortably close to the class enemies who had perished under his rule.

The old auntie’s ghost story includes many inferences to Mao Tse-tung. The Hundred Flower Bridge is a reference to one of Mao’s campaigns that he called “Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom.” Party leaders and intellectuals were supposed to express their opinions about communism and Chairman Mao’s leadership, but in truth, it was a means for Mao to uncover and silence dissidents. The fact that Emperor Chan Lee drowns in the story is telling because Mao Tse-tung prided himself on being a strong swimmer. And the thousand avenging ghosts in the story represent a fraction of the millions of people who perished under Mao’s rule.

Chapter 1

September 9, 1976 It begins with a death. Thousands of people mourn. Thousands of people celebrate. Hundreds of...

Chapter 2

Wen-shan dressed in her school uniform and went to eat her breakfast of cornflakes. Her uncle was not in the house. She looked out the front...
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Wonderful!!

by  Trudi  -   reviewed on  October 26, 2011

I was caught up in the story from the first page. It was so interesting to learn the history of China in this region of Guilin and how Chairman Mao took over this country with fear and chaos.

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"Truth"

by  Customer  -   reviewed on  October 27, 2011

You will cry. You will cry for China. You will cry for the people of China. You will cry for Chen Wen-Shan. Chen Wan-Shan and her great-uncle are both haunted by past. She can't remember hers and he can't forget his. Healing comes as they read the letters, brought to them in the jade dragon box. I love this beautifully written book. It is probably the best book I've read in a very long time. Important novels bring us information that we may not understand. That is what Uncle Tom's Cabin did. It brought the horrors of slavery into the hearts of the readers, which help fan the fires for freedom in the United States.. This is what 'Letters in the Jade Dragon Box' does, as we experience a small portion of the horrors inflicted on the Chinese people by an evil philosophy and an evil man. This is another book by Gale Sears the should be read by all, especially with today's political climate. ""Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." -George Santayana

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Take a walk through Asia!

by  Amanda  -   reviewed on  April 26, 2012

Gale transported me into another time and place I'd never had much interest in Asian culture but loving Gale's work I plunged in and was pleasantly surprised. I loved the story! A must read!

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Really Amazing Book!

by  Krystal  -   reviewed on  April 16, 2012

I don't normally enjoy historical novels like this but this one was so well written. It was captivating and completely real. I learned things while going through the story that I never would have known about communist China. The testimonies in the book actually strengthened my faith in Christ and God. I loved reading this book, and I'm glad that I can add it to my collection.

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What the heart remembers…

by  Diane  -   reviewed on  December 30, 2011

Letters in the Jade Dragon Box is set between memories of the Mao Tes-tung years in China and the time following his death. Chen Wen-shan, now 15, can’t remember anything before she was sent to live with her great uncle in Hong Kong. A mysterious letter is received. A trip to a large home and a gift of a Jade box, with voices from the past, will forever change their lives. The story is well written and easy to visualize. The unique characters bring variety and realism to the story. Based on real life events, you have the opportunity to experience some of the most devastating events in China’s history and the results of the cruelty. Excellent work of historical fiction.

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great history review

by  louise  -   reviewed on  March 06, 2012

Learning or reviewing the history of China, was very intersting. Learning more about Mao Tse-tung and the inhumane thing that were done to the people of China gives me even more appreication for the freedoms we enjoy her. Oh the courage some of those people displayed, for a parent to send a child away never knowing if they would see it again. Great for middle school and up to read. louise

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Excellent Historical Novel

by  Carrie  -   reviewed on  March 15, 2012

I loved the way the author brought the situation to life. I looked forward to the family reading each letter despite the horrible situations they described because it also showed how much will they had to survive. You really come to know the characters and what they are going through. This book really makes you step back and see how much you have to live for. I highly recommend reading this book.

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Answers to Life's Questions

by  Kevin  -   reviewed on  March 01, 2012

This book is not what I expected it to be. I thought it would be a history of how the Church got started in Hong Kong. While the book does touch on this, it addresses some deep questions, such as "If God exists, why do bad things happen to good people?" or perhaps the book's main question: "What is truth?" The book tells of the atrocities committed under communist rule and how to find faith in adversity. I was highly impressed with the perfect weaving of teachings from Confucius with teachings of Christ, and how people truly are invited to bring all the truth they have and can add to it with the Gospel.

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Enthralling!

by  Jennifer  -   reviewed on  March 10, 2012

I loved this book! From the first chapter, the characters are story are so real. I've never been extremely interested in Asian history, but I found that I couldn't put this book down. The story comes to live page by page. I also appreciated that the author put extra information at the end of each chapter to give the reader more insight and understanding to better help enjoy the story.

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Surprising on so many levels!

by  Courtney  -   reviewed on  March 16, 2012

If you have read the Hunger Games, or Matched, then you read an overpowering dictator government as fiction, but as I read Letters in the Jade Dragon Box, I realized that this type of government is not something of the future, but something of the past. An awesome read, that was sad, but full of inspiration that made me grateful for my blessings. I was surprised by how little I knew about Chinese history prior to reading this. Now that I have read it, I feel like telling everyone about it! For those who would like to be enlightened, pick up a copy today :).

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Historical and Compelling!

by  Customer  -   reviewed on  March 14, 2012

Honestly, yes, it took me a little bit to get into it, but two short chapters in and I was hooked! The information in this book was fun to learn about because it was not straight history, but this book was made even better because it is based on actual events and actual people. I loved it. Gale Sears is always excellent at her writing and this one was truly amazing!

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Thanks for the knowledge of Chinese culture

by  Bunny   -   reviewed on  March 21, 2012

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I haven't ever really been interested in Chinese culture or China in general but my husband works for a Chinese company and has visited China several times. The era of Mao Tse-Tung was horrible and unimaginable but since it happend 'over there' and not in our backyard like the WWII, it gets overlooked. I especially liked the way Sis. Sears mixed the present with the past through the letters. I would wholeheartly suggest this book to my friends.

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Historical Treasures

by  Sam  -   reviewed on  March 02, 2012

Jade Dragon Box is a historical novel that focuses on the treasures of family, faith, and figuring out what is important. I loved that Gale Sears put footnotes at the end of each chapter to help her readers understand both the historical significance of what was happening within her novel, as well as the cultural significance of what the book was talking about. Overall this book was a very interesting read for anyone who is interested in finding out about a part of church history that very few people would know about.

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I loved it!!

by  Cheri  -   reviewed on  February 29, 2012

What an amazing book written about China!! Inspired by the real-life experiences of one of the first converts of the Church. Names have been changed to fit the needs of the story and to protect his annoymity. Chen Wen-Shan was taken from her family home in mainland China to live with her great Uncle Zhao Tai-lu. Wen-Shan can't remember anything about living in mainland China and her Uncle Tai-lu wishes he could forget. Wen-Shan's uncle doesn't share very much of his past; until they are given the jade dragon box which is filled with letters written by Wen-Shan's mother and paintings that were painted by her Grandfather who is also Tai-lu's brother. Very beautifully written. I had no idea that the people of China suffered such harsh treatment from a man just as wicked as Hitler.

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a "wanna share" book

by  anna  -   reviewed on  March 01, 2012

Letters in the Jade Dragon Box is a "wanna share" book! I am sharing it with my book club and all my reader friends! It is a wonderful blend of history and fiction. The chracters are rich and memorable. When I finished the book I felt like I was leaving good friends behind. I am looking forward to discussing this book with others who are readers. I will read anything Gail Sears writes and this especially was such a tender story!

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This is a touching story of a young girl's life in Mao's China and Hong Kong.

by  Sheryl  -   reviewed on  March 17, 2012

This book tells the story of a young girl's life in China under Mao Tse-tung and in Hong Kong under British rule. It also tells the story of the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Hong Kong. The author, Gale Sears, does a great job melding all these "worlds" in the lives of the characters. She weaves a wonderful story of a young girl who learns the value of her family and what they have endured. I would recommend this to anyone who loves history, the church and a really good book.

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touched my heart in unbelievable ways

by  Phyllis  -   reviewed on  March 10, 2012

The ways in wich people are treated by their fellow man is so heart breaking to me. If truly hope our reality gets to the point that this kind of cruelty disappears. I enjoyed the story to the point that life can be one of respect and love with our immediate families

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I loved this book!

by  paula`  -   reviewed on  February 28, 2012

This is even better than The Silence of God. Gale Sears does a great a job of building the characters as well as putting them in a realistic setting. I would highly recommend this book to any who would like to read about China under Mao, and what it would have been like after his death. This is a story about family relationships that will touch your heart!

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Captivating

by  Lacey  -   reviewed on  February 29, 2012

It was amazing to learn about Latter Day Saints in China. The research that has been done on this book was phenomenal. Some parts of the book were more interesting then others, but overall still a great read.

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Great Read!!

by  Tawni  -   reviewed on  March 01, 2012

I really liked this book. I couldn't put it down. It taught a lot about the history of China under Mao's communist rule and the sad and horrific things that the people of mainland China went through. Would recommend to any one.

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History Lesson

by  Sidney  -   reviewed on  April 10, 2012

The first part of the book took me a while to get involved in the book. Good Story and for me, each time there was a date given, I thought back to what and where I was at and doing as compared to the people dealing with Communism in China, the lost of family, freedoms, that we take for granted, and to maintain their emotional levels to survive. I admire the strength of the people who lost so much through this period of their lives in so many aspects and still came through and learned to live with the memories of such frightening leaders.

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Emotionally Riveting

by  Monica  -   reviewed on  February 29, 2012

Gale Sears’ Letters in the Jade Dragon Box is an excellent book, rich in Chinese history and culture and drawing the reader emotionally into the story. The story follows Chen Wen-shan, a young Chinese girl who was smuggled out of mainland China during the harsh rule of Mao Tse-tung. Living with her great-uncle, one of the first LDS converts in Hong Kong, Wen-shan must come to terms with the separation from her family in mainland China. The jade dragon box is brought into Wen-shan and her uncle’s possession, as a token sent from her grandfather from the mainland. Filled with art from her grandfather and letters from her mother, Wen-shan and her uncle gradually work through their varied emotions regarding the difficulties they have faced in life. Stunningly written Letters in the Jade Dragon Box will hold your attention with lessons of family bonds and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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Great Historical Novel!

by  Angie  -   reviewed on  March 01, 2012

I love this touching story! I looked forward as they opened each letter and unrolled each painting. As they did so the relationship they shared evolved and became richer. Gale Sears tells a wonderful story filled with sadness and spiritual strength! I highly recommend this book!

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Amazing!!

by  Mary  -   reviewed on  March 02, 2012

My brother served his mission in Hong Kong just before it was returned to China. The stories he told of the wonderful people there and the rich culture really came to life in the book. The hardship of the Chinese people is brought to life in the characters and you will laugh, cry, and struggle along with them as you read. The author has a true gift for keeping you involved with the characters. I would definatly recommend this book!

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Good book, fun to learn about the history of others

by  Trishelle  -   reviewed on  February 29, 2012

I enjoyed reading this book. I thought the book would be more focused on the letters from the beginning, but enjoyed the character development that led to them receiving the letters. I enjoyed seeing how Wen-shan was able to grow and become close with her uncle. It was amazing to learn of some of the history of China and see what some people were made to suffer through.

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An interesting look at communist China

by  Stacie  -   reviewed on  March 01, 2012

I have always found communist China fascinating, and I think Gale Sears did a great job of portraying life under Mao Tse-Tung. I also enjoyed reading about how the early members of the Church first learned about the gospel. My only regret is that Gale Sears did not put more in the book about the trials the saints had, struggling to stay true to the gospel under Mao's regime.

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AMAZING STORY

by  Shauna  -   reviewed on  March 01, 2012

This is an amazing story filled with fascinating history, an incredible bond between a parent and a child, and tremendous courage. We as readers are privileged to participate in the daily opening of letters from a mother to a child who have been separated for a decade in order to protect that child from the terrible rule of Mao Tse-tung.

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Fantastic Read!

by  Kristen  -   reviewed on  March 03, 2012

I absolutely adored this book. It was beautiful, tragic, inspiring; it brought to life so many emotions. This book is less about the church in Hong Kong but more about what the people went through with communism and a certain dictator. I couldn't get enough of this book. It was a beautiful read.

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Great Book

by  Cristi  -   reviewed on  March 19, 2012

I really enjoyed this book. I love historical fiction but I have not read much on China because of the names. It was nice to have the notes at the end of each chapter. Especially the ones telling the readers about the names! I loved watching Chen and her great uncles relationship grow through out the book. I only wish there was more on her grandfather. I feel like we only got the tip of the iceberg with his story.

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Good, Better, Best, Bestest

by  Barbara  -   reviewed on  March 01, 2012

When I was young my Mother would always tell me to eat all my food, as there were starving children in China who would love to have what I couldn't bring myself to eat. Little did I understand that what she said was true. This book brings life to a halt when you realize what others have endured and how they stood fast in their quest for freedom. Thanks to Gale Sears for bring such a wonderful example of endurance.

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Good Read

by  Customer  -   reviewed on  March 03, 2012

I enjoyed reading Letters in the Jade Dragon Box. Gale Sears does a nice job of creating a visual. I like the style of writing. I will admit that I enjoyed Silence of God better but still really enjoyed Letters in the Jade Dragon Box.

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Beautiful and Moving

by  Michelle  -   reviewed on  April 03, 2012

Letters in the Jade Dragon Box is the first book From Gale Sears that I have read. It will not be the last! With beautiful detail and attention to detail, she has created a historical novel that takes us to China and shows us the resilience and majesty of her people as they struggle to find their place in Mao's China. I highly recommend it to any one who loves historical fiction.

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On of the bests reads for the year!

by  Mary Jane  -   reviewed on  February 29, 2012

Loved this book! I loved Gale Sears other title Silence of God, but thought this was her very best work. The story brought out so may feelings and emotions to the reader. Such intensity of the real history, should make us all grateful for the incredible blessings we each have.

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Wonderful Story!!

by  Trudi  -   reviewed on  February 29, 2012

What a great book. You will want to learn more about China and the struggles they had under Mao's rule and the Cultural Revolution. This has got to be Gale Sears best book. I look forward to more writing in the future.

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HIstory woven with a magical story

by  Wendy  -   reviewed on  February 29, 2012

I originally wanted to read this book because my brother served his mission in Hong Kong and I wanted to buy it for him. I read this book and could not put it down! I love the way the author melded the history of the church in Hong Kong, the history of China, and a magical story of a little girl's life. I highly recommend this book to all who love history or love to learn.

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Excellent historical fiction with realistic characters.

by  Sherry  -   reviewed on  February 29, 2012

Excellent book with realistic characters. If you liked "Silence of God" you will like "Letters in the Jade Dragon Box" for I think this one is even better. I learned alot about China, their people and how Mao Tes-tung terrorized a country and a people. One of the best fiction books I have read in a long time.

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Totally worth reading

by  Emily  -   reviewed on  March 06, 2012

Historical fiction is generally not my favorite, so I thought I was taking a chance on this novel, but I was delightfully surprised. The notes at the end of each chapter helped me to understand more and feel engaged in the story. I wasn't ready for the book to end, but it was beautiful.

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A must-read novel!

by  Lexie  -   reviewed on  March 04, 2012

If you love historical fiction this novel is one of the best! Fascinating story of a young girl learning her family history through letters from her mother. I enjoyed Silence of God and found Gale Sears newest novel even better!

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UNFORGETTABLE!

by  Camille  -   reviewed on  March 05, 2012

This book was amazing!!! I love how Gale weaved the tale of the girl with the history of China and the devastation that took place there and with the beginning of the first converts in Hong Kong. I laughed and cried along with the characters and couldn't wait for each letter and each painting to be opened. This story captivated me, and I could not put the book down. I read it in 2 days. I would recommend this book to anyone. A must read!

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Great Book! Highly Recommended!!

by  Jason  -   reviewed on  March 05, 2012

I really enjoyed reading "Letters in the Jade Dragon Box". It was really eye opening to read the journey of Wen-Shan and her Uncle as they learn about their family through the contents of the Jade Dragon Box. Gale Sears did a great job with the historical aspect of the story, her meticulous attention to detail, helped to explain the trying times of the Chinese people.

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Good read.

by  Jordyn  -   reviewed on  March 05, 2012

This book was a great read. Another wonderful job by Gale Sears. Powerfully written and well worth your time.

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Loved it!

by  Kathryn  -   reviewed on  March 06, 2012

Gales Sears does an excellent job documenting the historical facts. I learned so much while reading this. This book is captivating and educational. I highly recommend it!

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What unbelievable struggles!

by  Joni  -   reviewed on  March 06, 2012

I recommend this book, along with her other book, Silence of God. I learned a lot about China and the unbelievable struggles many people went through. I enjoyed reading this book – it reminded me of blessings that I have each day.

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Well-written, enthralling story

by  Cathy  -   reviewed on  March 05, 2012

I was hooked from the first pages. The story revolves around the connection of family and the bonds that are stronger than place and time. Wen-shan's relationship with her uncle, her friends, and her parents she doesn't remember, propel the plot to the end the book.

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I enjoyed this book a lot!

by  SHERYL  -   reviewed on  March 06, 2012

Having recently read two biography books on China during this period of time I was impressed by the facts that followed other things I have read. What a sad time for the people of China. It is hard to believe how many innocent people lost their lives during the Cultural Revolution. I finnished the book on a more upbeat note than I expected.

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Fabulous!

by  Ilene  -   reviewed on  March 05, 2012

Not only was the research phenomenally done, but the story had heart too. It was complex and detailed in a good way. Sometimes, it's easy to get bogged down in all of the historical facts, but this wasn't the case here. The story was touching and yet very grounded. Gale Sears didn’t cut corners with her research, but she infused hope into the story all the same. It was a marvelous read.

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wonderful

by  klea  -   reviewed on  March 05, 2012

I laughed and cried. I could not wait to read more, would the next letter or picture answer her pressing questions. I also liked learning more about the culture in china and Hong Kong.

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Enjoyable and interesting

by  Charlotte  -   reviewed on  March 07, 2012

This was an enjoyable book that gave me more insight into Communist China and the trials the Chinese people endured. This book read more like a young-adult novel to me, especially since the main character is a fifteen-year-old girl. I appreciated the notes at the end of each chapter, because going into this book I didn't know much about Chinese culture or Mao's years of power. It was also interesting to learn more about the LDS influence in Hong Kong.

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Karen Hill

by  Karen   -   reviewed on  March 14, 2012

In interesting historical novel about a man who was greedy for power. Mao Tysetung a communist leader isolated China from the world and killed millions of people. His greediness set China back long after his passing. His history was smuggled out in letters so the world could see how greediness can destroy a nation.

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The best novel I've read in the last year!

by  Nedra  -   reviewed on  March 19, 2012

Letters in the Jade Dragon Box is my favorite novel to read in the last year. Well written, with a story that weaves historical events of China through the years of tyranny under Mao Tse Tung. I especially appreciated the footnotes that gave further details of such an interesting culture and people. This was my first Gale Sears book to read, and I will be following everything she writes from now on.

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Heartfelt

by  Suzanne  -   reviewed on  March 07, 2012

My heart goes out to the people of China and all the things they have endured. Gale Sears is successful again with her storytelling and keeping the reader interested. You will enjoy the Letters in the Jade Dragon Box.

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Insightful

by  Nan  -   reviewed on  March 07, 2012

I am not a historical fiction reader. I enjoyed the book and was thankful for the notes at the end of the chapter ot help explain. I wasn't that aware of the struggles within China during that time. I am grateful for Gale's work. Thanks.

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I love how rich in history this book is!

by  Debbie  -   reviewed on  March 08, 2012

This book is so rich in history. I had the opportunity to visit Hong Kong and this story became a little more personal to me. Each time a letter and peice of art was unrolled I couldn't wait for the contents to be revealed. Also, how difficult it would be to live in a country where God was not acknowleged. And art was dictated by a communist leader. I would highly recommend this book!

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AMAZING!!!

by  Heidi  -   reviewed on  March 08, 2012

Wow, what an incredible book! I was up until 3 a.m. the night I started it because I literally couldn't put it down. I loved it even more than The Silence of God. So well-written and engaging, and very timely. Most of us have no idea what the people of China suffered during Chairman Mao's regime. It makes me so thankful for the freedoms I enjoy.

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OK book

by  Barbara  -   reviewed on  March 08, 2012

My feelings about this book were mixed. The historical aspect of it gave a greater understanding to the terrible horrors that the Chinese people endured under Mao. The development of the relationship between uncle and niece was a nice story. But on the whole I felt it was weak, too many things happened too easily, in obtaining the box, in finding the mother, in the couple that helped bring it about. I wondered who they were and how they could accomplish what they did, where did they get all their influence. The bringing in of the church was understated and there was never a real feel for the gospel that I could se. It was an ok book, but one I won't read again.

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Great read

by  Deb  -   reviewed on  March 08, 2012

I really enjoyed this book. It is a great read. In fact, I bought several to give as gifts.

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page turner

by  Melissa  -   reviewed on  March 08, 2012

WOW! What a great book. It is very interseting to read the foot notes of each chapter telling of the different customs in China. What a great story of faith that was. The great uncle and Wen-shan that they hsd each other. It is a page turner for sure. I read the book in 2 days. What miracles there are in the story. It was fun to read about our friends Grant & Luana Heaton. I give this book a 10 star review!!

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Enjoyed it very much!

by  Veda  -   reviewed on  March 08, 2012

Thank you Gale Sears for another wonderful book. I especially enjoyed the bond that was strengthened between the characters as each letter was read and each painting was unrolled. I cried upon learning of the difficulties their family and thousands of other families suffered through and thanked my Heavenly Father for the privilege of living in this country.

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Very Informative

by  Dana  -   reviewed on  March 08, 2012

It is a very informative read. I learned alot about the hardhsip and struggles under Mao regime. My heart ached for the people in China. I enjoyed watching the loving bond form as Chen Wen Shan and her grandfather read the letters.

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Fascinating look at life in China

by  Customer  -   reviewed on  March 09, 2012

This was a unique way to provide background information through the use of letters from the girl's mother. Again, Gale Sears has used historical facts woven into an intriguing story.

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Sweet, Endearing Read for All Ages

by  Marianne  -   reviewed on  March 11, 2012

This book was a joy to read! It gives you a glimpse into the beginnings of the Church in China and a taste of Chinese culture wrapped in a simple, yet complex story of a girl learning about her family, her past, and her culture. The strength of the book lies in its various and evolving relationships, especially that of the main character and her great uncle. It also left me wanting to read more about Chinese culture and history, especially during the 20th century.

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FANTASTIC!

by  April  -   reviewed on  March 11, 2012

This book was really good and well written. I was skeptical at first because of how the main character behaved in the beginning. The more I read the more I loved. I felt like I was there.

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Book about a girl, her family and her culture

by  Nadine  -   reviewed on  March 15, 2012

Very interesting historical fiction book. The book gave us a good look into china during Mao's reign. I felt WenShan's pain and happiness as she read each letter in the Jade Dragon Box. This was the only way she had to know her mother. I loved learning about her family, her past and her culture

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This book was a good historical novel

by  MEGAN   -   reviewed on  March 10, 2012

I liked how the characters developed over the book and I like reading historical novels and so I love reading fictional novels with historical truth. I liked how at the end of each chapter they discussed certain words that the readers might not know or understand about the chinese culture. Wen Shen and her uncle had a really cute relationsip over the course of reading the letters. It was an easier read and just a good book to read.

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Excellent research and writing.

by  Sarena  -   reviewed on  March 13, 2012

I have read several of Gales books. She does alot of research before writing her books so they are very factual. Letters in the Jade Dragon Box was fascinating to me. I am intrigued with the Chines culture and the dynamics of their relationships. It was sad, but interesting to read about the history and circumstances of Wen-Shan's family.

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An awesome story!

by  Samantha  -   reviewed on  March 09, 2012

I absolutely loved this book! It had an awesome story with dynamic characters that will really take you back to Communist China. It is heartfelt and really takes you on a journey of a lifetime.

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Great Historical Fiction

by  Customer  -   reviewed on  March 12, 2012

This story brings to life the struggles and hardship faced by people living in Mao's China. It really brought these fact to life in a new away for me.

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A well written heart warming read

by  Doris  -   reviewed on  March 19, 2012

This was a very well written book that grabbed your attention from the beginning. Chairman Mao was a very evil tyrant and it is amazing that people in the US actually admire him. Pray that we are never faced with someone like him, someone who only cares about power and money. What courage it took to send her daughter away with the hope for a better life with her uncle.

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Loved the history and the story

by  galene  -   reviewed on  March 13, 2012

Loved the book, I liked the history in it. It was to read, the storyline was well developed and easy to follow. Once I got started I couldn't put it down. I helped me to appreciate the freedoms that I have.

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A touching story with accurate historical details of the horror of Mao Tse-tung's communistic rule in China.

by  Carolyn  -   reviewed on  March 12, 2012

A touching story. I am appalled that people could be forced to live as they did under Mao Tse-tung"s iron grip of communism. An accurate historical view of that era.

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A great historical fiction

by  Allison  -   reviewed on  March 12, 2012

I loved this book! It was an entertaining story while teaching what it was really like in China under the rein of communist leader Mao Tse Tung. I felt for the characters and their heart break, I learned about communist China, and just had a great experiance reading this book.

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Intriguing insight into life in China

by  Shirlene  -   reviewed on  March 19, 2012

Gale Sears' historical novel gives an intriguing story enough facts that many insights into life in China can be learned. The use of letters to provide background information is unique, but how the letters are found and what they contain provides a most interesting story!

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Great book with suspense and excitement

by  paula  -   reviewed on  March 15, 2012

I really enjoyed this book. I was shocked at the abuse the people in Mainland China had to withstand under the rule of Mao Tse-rung. I liked the history and how the gospel of Jesus Christ was evident.

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Heart provoking and a tear jerker!

by  Kristin  -   reviewed on  March 31, 2012

Thanks for the opportunity to read "Letters in the Jade Dragon Box". Because of the extension of time I felt like the parable of the laborer. Thank you. Even though I wanted to finish the book, I didn't want my relationship with Wen-shan to end. I looked forward to the opening of each new letter and the unfolding of each new painting. My eyes have been opened to China and I'm ever ever soo grateful to live in America and soo grateful for my freedoms and opportunities in my life! I loved and enjoyed this book! What a joy I felt when Wen-shan discovered her mother was still alive and still seeing "blue butterflies"!

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A must read for historical fiction lovers.

by  Lorna  -   reviewed on  March 18, 2012

I loved this book! Letters in the Jade Dragon Box is a beautifully written inspiring story. It was nice having the author include the China Dedicatory Prayer that President David O. McKay gave, back in 1921. Letters in the Jade Dragon Box and Silence of God are two of my favorite books.

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Enjoyable Read

by  Emily  -   reviewed on  March 23, 2012

Though this book started out a little slow for my taste it picked up fairly quickly about the 4th chapter. Gale Sears did a great job pulling in the reader and blending faith, family and friends.

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Great read

by  Customer  -   reviewed on  March 13, 2012

I really enjoyed this book. I didn't know much about the history of China and this book was really informative. A touching story that ties in gospel principles.

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Interesting Historical View of Communist China

by  Nicole  -   reviewed on  March 13, 2012

This book is as good way to learn about communist China along with the life of Latter-Day Saints in Hong Kong. I learned a lot of new information. It does start out a little slow in my opinion, but gets better toward the end.

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Bringing generations together

by  Amy  -   reviewed on  March 13, 2012

This coming of age story was wonderful. It had a way of bringing generations together; a daughter to her mother, to her great uncle, and to the reader. It mixed the Chinese culture with "new" western ideas. It captured a time period perfectly and educated the reader about living in a communist country. I would recommend this book to anyone.

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A cultural history lesson

by  Marie  -   reviewed on  March 13, 2012

Since I had already read Sears book, "Silence of God," I was eager to get into this newest one. I was not disappointed. I've read other books about China, all disturbing. Yet, in this, as in others, what has impressed me the most is the triumph of the human spirit, despite incredible repression. Once again, Sears brings all those feelings to life through her characters. What I especially appreciated were the footnotes of actual people, events, and word notes at the end of each chapter.

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A great lesson in history.

by  TERRIE & DOUGLAS  -   reviewed on  March 13, 2012

This is an amazing book about China and the years during and after Mao-Tse-tungs reign. It was really moving to experience with Chen Wen-shan as she read the letter sent to her in the Jade dragon box written by her mother of the horrors they suffered. Very moving book. I also enjoyed the history at the end of each chapter.

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Inspiring!

by  Laurie  -   reviewed on  March 13, 2012

What a wonderful story woven from real life into fiction! The characters truly portrayed the strong spirit of the people of China under the rule of a ruthless leader. So inspiring to also see the added strength the Church was for those who lived in Hong Kong during that time.

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A compelling, and touching story of triumph over evil.

by  Karla  -   reviewed on  March 13, 2012

This book draws you in immediatley. It is touching,heart warming and very compelling. You feel as she and her uncle feel. The transformation from evil and sadness to hope and joy are well written. The historical footnotes at the end of each chapter were informative and well done as well. It was a really well written and a quick read for me. I loved it, especially the ending.

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Wonderful book!

by  Michelle  -   reviewed on  March 14, 2012

It was a great read! There are hardly any books about the LDS church in the Oriental lands so I was excited to read this. I was not disapointed at all!

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A Touching story!

by  Shannon  -   reviewed on  March 14, 2012

This story really resonated with me, especially since I have recently received letters of my own from far away! I loved the story and the emotions of the characters. I also appreciated the extra historical facts at the end of each chapter, as it helped to connect the story to actual events. This is definitely one to put on your "to read" list!

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Great Book!

by  Milli  -   reviewed on  March 15, 2012

I really enjoyed reading this book! I found all the history very interesting and I really liked how the book tied in characters and stories of early members in china. It was a very easy read! Great book!

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An insightful read!

by  Bree  -   reviewed on  March 15, 2012

I loved the notes at the end of each chapter that talked about different words or ideas that were used in the text that the regular reader may not understand about China at that time. I really enjoyed the story!

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Shares the history of China

by  ANNABELLE  -   reviewed on  March 23, 2012

Before reading this book, I really didn't know anything about Chinese history, and to be honest, I hadn't thought about it much. The Jade Dragon Box is a good story that brings to light much of the hardships that China has faced. The paintings and letters really bring to life some of what the Chinese people suffered, especially for those who didn't know. I feel much more grateful for all I've been blessed with.

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Very historical and compelling

by  Laura  -   reviewed on  March 18, 2012

This was an amazing book! I did not expect to get a history lesson out of it but it was so fascinating. I never got bored and I learned more about Confucious and his teachings. I also loved how the Gospel was brought into it and I truly felt for the characters and what they went through.

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Good Read

by  Lori  -   reviewed on  March 15, 2012

I was hesitant at first to read this book but once I started I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed all the historical facts and the letters that were smuggled out of China along with some paintings. These were given to an Uncle and his niece Wen-shan. Her mother sent her to live with her uncle in order to save her life. These were written by Wen shan's mother.These gave them info about their family and what they went through. I was also fasinated by the facts of the church in Hong Kong.

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Excellent

by  Marren  -   reviewed on  March 15, 2012

What a sweet story. I love the connection between Chen and her grand-father.The best part is when they start going through the actual box. What memories her mother put together for Chen. A delightful read.

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Interesting, enjoyable

by  Bethany  -   reviewed on  March 15, 2012

I really enjoyed this book. I enjoy historic fiction, because it helps me learn history in a way that I can actually remember it. I found the history and information about China very interesting. They storyline was interesting, as well. The Church didn't play that much into the storyline, but I did like learning a bit about the beginings of the Church in China.

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I really enjoyed this book

by  Allene  -   reviewed on  March 15, 2012

I really enjoyed this book. It really opened my eyes to how much control one person can have over others. So thankful for this country

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the blessings of freedom and family

by  Marta  -   reviewed on  March 23, 2012

This was a great read, I so enjoyed the way the author could make me "see" eaach parchment as it unrolled, and feel the impatience that Wen-Shan felt as she finally got the opportunity to know her family. We are so blessed to enjoy the freedoms that we do!

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Great historical novel

by  Terry  -   reviewed on  March 16, 2012

I loved this book for its family conection. It was so interesting to read about the history of China and how it affected so many lives.

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Realistic emotions, engaging story

by  Amy  -   reviewed on  March 19, 2012

I loved learning about people in China and what they went through. I felt the main character's emotions and actions were very realistic and I could relate to her and learn and grow with her along the way. The descriptions of the art and the food were very good. Usually I get frustrated when the story goes back in time, but the author did an awesome job of weaving it all together. I loved it.

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Incredible.

by  Kristen  -   reviewed on  March 17, 2012

This is a simply, yet elegantly, written and powerful novel. I highly recommend it, especially to anyone who is interested in Communist China under Mao Tse-tung and the introduction of the LDS Church to Hong Kong.

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Bond between family both past and present

by  Nadine  -   reviewed on  March 16, 2012

This is a very interesting historical fiction book. The book gave us a good look into China during Mao's rule. Also interesting information about the church's beginning in China. I felt Wen-Shan's pain and happiness as she read each letter in the Jade Dragon box. The letters were the only way she had to know her mother. I loved learning about her family, her past and her culture.

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Readers learn about communist China through a unique format of letters

by  Michele  -   reviewed on  March 17, 2012

Through letters snuggled from China, the reader experiences the thoughts and feelings of a teenager learning about the evils of communism for the first time. Youth and adults today sometimes do not understand why communism is so evil. This book would be a good introduction and perhaps a springboard to learning more.

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Not a mystery...a Chinese family's history

by  John D.  -   reviewed on  March 17, 2012

The title and cover of this attractive book implied to me contents of a mystery novel with a Chinese setting and characters. But Gale Sears has written a tender historical novel based on the life and times of an unnamed high ranking political refuge from Mao Tse-tung's takeover of China. Combining Chinese history, customs, and even quotations of Confucius the story leaves me with a heightened appreciation for the strength of the human spirit, traditional Chinese family values, and the people and history of China.

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Fun and informative

by  John  -   reviewed on  March 24, 2012

This book mixes biographical text with historical fact. It is a pleasure for anyone, whether you are are looking for a great story or need to learn Chinese history. The information of the foundings of the Church in Asia left me impressed and wanting to know more.

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GREAT book especially on CD

by  Janis   -   reviewed on  March 18, 2012

I really enjoyed this book. I started reading it and had the opportunity to listen to it on CD, it made even more captivating. It was great to have the Chinese accent on the names and words. I had never really thought about the struggles that happened with the Chinese people and their suffering and sacrfices. This book made all of that a reality to me. I appreciated all the different emotions that the author was able to portray in the book. The anticipation of the opening of each letter and painting was great.I would recommend it to anyone.

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really enjoyed this book

by  Edna  -   reviewed on  March 17, 2012

This book helped me learn about the life of the Chinese people and what they were subjected to. The book also showed some of the ways of the older peoples, by using the great uncle and the young girl. I enjoyed reading this book.

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Great first glimpse at Chinese culture and the church!

by  Patricia  -   reviewed on  March 24, 2012

Coming from an avid reader, this book was a really good read! I gained a better understanding of the Chinese people and what they value. It was a fascinating story and I couldn't help but want to know how Chen's family survived the oppression of the time. This book helped me better appreciate the gospel in my own life, and the beauty and peace it offers to any who will accept it. Loved the book!

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Great, easy read.

by  Laurel  -   reviewed on  March 24, 2012

This book was very informational and entertaining at the same time. I loved the bits of history and background information that the author included at the end of every chapter. He did a great job of keeping me tied into the story. It is a good book for almost all ages because the language is simple and easy to follow. I really enjoyed it overall.

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great read!

by  Customer  -   reviewed on  March 24, 2012

The book was very good and informative and I loved the story and the hardships that the saints in China had to go through at that time. it was a fun book to read. my daughter has started reading it also and has enjoyed it.

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Awesome Historical Novel

by  David  -   reviewed on  March 24, 2012

This story will pull you in and teach you alot about China, life, and what a testimony can do for you in your life. It is a compelling story that you will not soon forget.

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Excellent, Lots of emotion

by  Janis   -   reviewed on  March 19, 2012

I started out reading the book but finished by listing on CD. It came to life listening to the reader using a Chinese accent. This book made me realize all that the Chinese people had sacrificed and the suffering that they endured during this time period. I love all the different emotions that I experienced from beginning to end. The anticipation of each letter being opened and what its contents were, to the unrolling of each painting. The relationship that grew between Chen Wen-shan and her great uncle into something so special. I was glad that the ending was not what I had expected. I would recommend this book to anyone, especially on CD.

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captivating & informative

by  Julianna  -   reviewed on  March 19, 2012

I appreciated learning about communist China. I enjoyed how Letters in the Jade Dragon Box was able to share significant history through a beautiful story. Thank you.

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LETTERS OF LOVE & DESPAIR

by  Richard  -   reviewed on  March 19, 2012

a great book about the rein of Mao Tse Tung and the terrible leader he was. This is a true story about a young girl, Wen-shan, who lived with her parents in china until her life was in danger and her mother sent her to live with her great uncle in Hong Kong for her own safety at the age of 4. She doesn’t remember much and she always wonders why her mother sent her away and then she and her uncle are given the “Jade Dragon Box with letters from her mother and pictures that her grandfather painted. As they read these letters Wen-Shan came to understand her mother and in the end of the story she found out that her mother was still living in China and that they could communicate now that Chairman Mao was dead. MARCIA NELSON

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Engrossing history + intriguing fiction=spellbinding work!

by  Leslie  -   reviewed on  March 19, 2012

Remembering the posters of Chairman Mao in magazine photos myself, I tremble at the gained historic setting of this story as an adult. The clever ways people and articles have been smuggled out of Communist China and salvaged are remarkable. What courage! What heartbreak as families were separated and/or destroyed. The growth of the relationship and trust between the uncle and the neice as they shared the art and letters of their common family members touched me most.

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What is truth?

by  Margie  -   reviewed on  March 19, 2012

This is an historical novel based on true experiences during the reign of Mao Tse-tung. A story of a family and their trials during this time in mainland China. A telling of the sacrifices made to secure culture and lives for the future after Mao's reign. It is an easy read that keeps the attention and teaches the history of a country, a people, a culture and religion.

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A touching true Story

by  Mindi  -   reviewed on  March 19, 2012

This was a wonderful story of heartache and love! A YW is trying to find out who she is by the sacrifices her Mom and Grandpa made to save her from a terrible time in History! I loved the relationship between Wan-Shan and her Uncle! I only wished she would of been reunited with her Family with more than just a letter...Great Read!

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Loved this book!

by  Marilyn  -   reviewed on  March 19, 2012

Once you get started you can't put it down. I learned alot about the history of China. Loved the notes at the end of the chapters which explained more fully some of the words and ideas in the chapter. I loved the idea of TRUTH. We all need to search for the truth in every situation we come up against in life.

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Great Historical Read

by  Wendy  -   reviewed on  March 23, 2012

I enjoyed the emotional roller coaster that this book put me on. It was amazing to see the ups and downs of Wen-shan discovering her mother one letter at a time. After reading this book I have a greater apprecitaion for the country we live in!

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An infomative look into communist China

by  austin  -   reviewed on  March 20, 2012

Letters in the Jade Dragon Box is a quick read that creates a greater appreciation for the history of China. As the characters in the story develop, you become more attached to them and the story being told.

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A Glimpse into China's Terrifying Past

by  Ashley  -   reviewed on  March 20, 2012

Sears intricately weaves the stories of a modern, forward thinking Hong Kong girl with the history of her family trapped in Mao's mainland China. Through a series of letters, one sees the oppressive fear throughout the country. The book evoked emotions of sadness and gratitude for those blessings we often overlook. I greatly enjoyed the simple relationship between an uncle and niece. As a certain point in the book, I became just as excited to read the letters as the characters. While it is a great historical fiction, it is only a window into a unfortunate period of Chinese history. For further reading of China's horrific past, I definitely recommend selections from her bibliography "Wild Swans" and "Hungry Ghosts".

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A mysterious looking box holds the answers to a young girls search

by  Susan  -   reviewed on  March 20, 2012

Recently, I read a Chinese historical novel that I found both moving and educational. Letters in the Jade Dragon Box by Gale Sears was inspired by the real-life experiences of one of the first converts of the LDS church in Hong Kong. It tells the story of a young girl who was sent out of mainland China to protect her from the consequences of the communist rule of Chairman Mao. She went to live with her uncle in Hong Kong where she had a good life, but she longed to know her family and what had become of them. Eventually, she was given a box filled with letters from her mother and beautiful drawings of China, which serves to help her come to know her family and thereby herself. I gained new insights into that period of Chinese history and would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well-written story.

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A window into a Chinese family's resilience.

by  Laurie  -   reviewed on  March 21, 2012

This is a sadlly accurate depiction of the harshness and heartbreak the good people of China suffered in the not-so-distant past. I enjoyed the descriptions of Hong Kong, Kowloon, and Victoria's Peak. Our son served his mission among these good people.

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It won't be my last

by  Deborah  -   reviewed on  March 21, 2012

Gail Sears does an exceptionial job at bringing the readers focus to the importance of family, faith, forgivness and friendship in a setting that would like us to see the hate, tyranny and control a dictatorship can have over a person. This was my first opportunity to read a Gail Sears book, it won't be my last!

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Captivating

by  Chelsie  -   reviewed on  March 23, 2012

Gale Sears really does her homework. It's so refreshing to read a novel with substance. Letters is rich in history and customs and provides insight into a culture that not many Americans may be familiar with. I loved how the letters drive the story, as we get to experience what the main character herself is learning. Well done, Ms. Sears.

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well written,.couldn't put it down.

by  Marsha  -   reviewed on  March 23, 2012

I enjoyed the relationship of the great uncle & his niece as it progressed through the reading of letters from her mother& unrolling the art of his brother. The author conveys the heartfelt feelings of each in such a sensitive & sweet way. I also enjoyed reading & learning of the history of China.

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Good history

by  Phil  -   reviewed on  March 22, 2012

I loved the history throughout the book. I didn't like the characters as much in this book as I did in The Silence of God, but very engaging nonetheless. If you like a powerfully woven book of history and fiction will like this book.

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I really enjoy learning about china

by  sally  -   reviewed on  March 22, 2012

I really enjoyed learning about China and what happened years ago. This was a very interesting book about bringing the west into China. It was really a eye opener on what went on in Main Land China to the millions of people there. I really enjoyed the cute personalities of each of the people and how the great unle came around after the art works was discovered. He really did love his niece, he just didn't know how to open up to her. I was hoping that the end would bring mom and daughter back to together, but I was happy with the letter that the daughter got right at the end. It was a very good book.

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Enjoyable Read

by  Emily  -   reviewed on  March 22, 2012

Though this book started out a little slow for me, it quickly pulled me in. Gale Sears did an outstanding job with the history she brought into this book. Sears did a great job blending family, friends and faith in this novel.

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Loved it!

by  Melissa  -   reviewed on  March 23, 2012

It took me a while to get into the book, I kept putting it off, but I am so glad I read it! Gale Sears is such an awesome historical author that I was hooked after a couple chapters!! The way she showed the stuggles of the people in China was powerful and then tying in the history of the saints in Hong Kong was brilliant! Loved it!

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I loved learning about the history of china

by  Marillyn  -   reviewed on  March 22, 2012

I didn't think I would enjoy the book, the author has done a wonderful job of telling about the history in communist China. I could feel the heartache that come with the brutal treatment of family members who were not able to escape and yet the joy found in a young girl and her great uncles as they receive the Jade Dragon Box with letters and paintings from family members.

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great read.

by  Craig  -   reviewed on  March 22, 2012

Great book. It took me a little while to get into the story, but once the letters and pictures from the box started to be opened and read it was great. I recomment it. I have new appreciation for those that lived in China years ago.

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I highly recommend this book

by  PAT  -   reviewed on  March 22, 2012

I enjoyed the Jade Dradon box very much. It was interesting to learn about the history of China. The story of Chen Wen-shan was intriguing, and I looked forward to each chapter, and the journey through her young life. Gale Sears has become one of my favorit authors. I recommed this book highly.

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Enjoyed this book!

by  Customer  -   reviewed on  March 22, 2012

This book started a bit slow, but once I got to know the characters, and began understanding what they were going through it became much fuller. I enjoyed learning about the culture, and am so grateful for our freedoms here, especially compared to what her family had to endure.

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Amazing way to learn about history.

by  Debbie  -   reviewed on  March 22, 2012

I love learning history through a fictionalized story. Through the tender story of a young girl longing for her family, Gale Sears has written another engaging story teaching about the unbelievable history of China and the horrors people endured. A great read for anyone who loves historical fiction.

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Wonderful

by  Camille  -   reviewed on  March 24, 2012

I enjoyed this book. The difficulties that the Chinese people endured is so sad. It was great that some survived and started a new life. I enjoyed reading the letters that Cen Wen-Shan received. I am sure she had many questions that were never answered before she read the letters and saw the beautiful art work of her grandfather. Thank you for writing this story.

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Beautiful, Moving Story

by  Kelsie  -   reviewed on  March 24, 2012

This was a beautiful combination of history and family. The story is of healing relationships and connecting with family. Very well written. I really enjoyed learning more of the history of China and Hong Kong.

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loved the letters

by  E  -   reviewed on  March 23, 2012

I'm not usually a big historical fiction fan but I loved it? It gave me insight into a period and culture that was a mystery to me. I loved her writing style and the letters made the story easy to read and helped me feel, as it did Chen Wen-shan, that I understood a little of what the people went through under Mao.

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GREAT AUTHOR ON HISTORICAL NOVELS

by  JEANINE  -   reviewed on  March 24, 2012

I Thouroughly enjoyed this book with all of the history of China. I loved the characters in the book and her descriptions all through out the book. Its sad to know that those things took place back then. I am glad I live where i do. I also enjoyed Gale Sears book Silence of God and her descriptions as told in that story. I would read any of her books!

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An excellent eye opener

by  Wade  -   reviewed on  March 23, 2012

I had been hesitant to start another author so I had not read Gale Sears' previous book. I am now sold on her writing. While growing up in the sixties and seventies, I was really unaware of conditions in China. Most of the concern was with Russia. Gale has done an excellent job in tweaking my interest in the conditions of Communist China. Her chareacters resonated iwth me. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it highly to other readers. As a result of this, I will read Gale's other books.

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Easy reading and yet hard to put down.

by  mavis  -   reviewed on  March 23, 2012

I got so into the book that I found it hard to put down. Used every extra minute I could find reading it. Found the history a warning of what could happen to this country if we are not careful. Thanks for a great book!

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Great Story!

by  Customer  -   reviewed on  March 24, 2012

This book had a wonderful rich history filled story! The author has some real talent, and it was great that she was able to show us that not everyone has life as easy as we have it here in the United States. We take for granted our religious freedom too often and there are some who don't have it, who have to fight for it.

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Never A Dull Moment

by  Audra  -   reviewed on  March 24, 2012

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is intelligently written, educational without being boring. I was engaged the entire time! Can't wait to read more from this author.

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Good for Gale Sears!

by  Barbara  -   reviewed on  March 24, 2012

I have enjoyed learning about the Asian history and culture in this story. The author has a great way of helping all us be thankful for our freedoms and freedom to worship. I'm definitely glad to have read this.

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Very Educational and Inspiring

by  Kimberly  -   reviewed on  March 22, 2012

This book taught me so much about some of the history behind communism in China. I fear that I haven't been very educated on this subject throughout my life and I found this book very intriguing and educational. I also loved the point of view through this young girl. Gale Sears uses a lot of emotion in her reading and at times I felt what this girl was feeling. I loved reading the letters each time she opened a new one. I enjoyed this book and I read it very quickly. I would recommend this to young adults as well as adults. Read it with your family and learn something outside of our little culture.

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A Story of Hope

by  Mark  -   reviewed on  March 23, 2012

Gale Sears has written a moving story of the changes which come into the life of a young Chinese girl living in Hong Kong as a broken link between herself and her parents is miraculously repaired. The female protagonist of the book, Wen-shan, is torn from her family in Communist China during the Cultural Revolution and sent to live with her grandfather's brother in Hong Kong. We follow the sometimes painful transition of Wen-shan from a scared, sometimes bitter girl to a hopeful, grateful young teenager. Her own transition is partnered with that of her great uncle, who has his own demons to battle and overcome. The descriptions of China under the rule of Mao Tse Tung are sometimes emotionally difficult to read, but reflect what others have reported of this era in China's history. If I have a criticism of the book, it is that sometimes the language seems to play into stereotypes of how some Chinese people speak imperfect English. While some native Chinese may sometimes do so, certainly their spoken communications between themselves in Cantonese or Mandarin would not be devoid of the needed parts of speech, and a fictional translation of conversations in their native tongue should reflect as much. (Amusingly, the book's fictional nature is highlighted by the unbelievable politeness Hong Kong teenagers are depicted exhibiting towards not only their elders, but also towards one another.) Apart from that, the book is well-written and keeps one reading on hoping for the expected ending that one wishes for. Additionally, I found my mouth watering more than once when Sears writes about Chinese food. If you have read this book and liked it, then you should read The Silence of God. I enjoyed it better.

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Excellent companion to "The Silence of God"

by  Shauna  -   reviewed on  March 24, 2012

"In you were near me.." is how the mother of Chen Wen-shan began her letters to her young daughter after she was forced to send the daughter away from their home in the beautiful Guilan mountains to escape their difficult life created by communism and Chairman Mao's stringent laws. The story of "Letters in the Jade Dragon Box" is that of the young daughter, now 15 years old, and now living within the safety of her emotionally distant great uncle's home in Hong Kong. Chen Wen-shan comes into possession of her mother's letters as well as beautiful artwork created by her grandfather, all neatly packed in an ornate box and smuggled from communist China. We learn more about her mother's difficult life as Chen Wen-shan methodically reads the numbered letters over several weeks. The chapters alternate between the mother's life in mainland China and the daughter's life in modern Hong Kong during which she is introduced to the LDS church. The chapters then join together for a satisfying conclusion. The book is well researched and well written and is an excellent companion to Gale Sear's book "The Silence of God" which highlights the difficult life of LDS saints in communist Russia.

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Great Read

by  Customer  -   reviewed on  March 24, 2012

I really enjoyed this book. Gale Sears has a wonderful way of telling a story and giving you information about the time in history and the people. The story is about leaning truth from a different angle beyond what you see to be reality. It changes life, yours and others.

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Great historical fiction

by  Candy  -   reviewed on  March 24, 2012

I really love this historical fiction. I love the way Gall Sears captures the old Chinese ways and brings it to life. I really come to love Wen-shan and her uncle. I love how Wen-Shan discovers about her family, especially her mother. The letters and pictures in the jade box where presented very well. Enjoyed this book very much!

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I loved this story and the way it was told.

by  Clark  -   reviewed on  March 24, 2012

I really enjoyed this historic novel. It was artfully written by a talented author. It reminded me of my precious gift of freedom. The novel tells about a time in recent Chinese history and does it in a way that makes you want to know more. I wonder how anyone was able to survive the horror of that time. But through it all the novel is filled with the love of a gentle family. I loved this story and the way it was told.

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Educational and Exciting!

by  Jared  -   reviewed on  March 26, 2012

Gale Sears did a fabulous job of weaving fiction and history in an unforgettable journey through post-Mao China. The experiences of Wen-shan and her friends Jun-Jai and Liying make you feel like you're joining your own friends for an adventure, while the relationship between Wen-shan and her uncle Zhao make you want to improve your relationships with your own family members. It's an excellent read, and I would recommend it to anyone!

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Another great historical novel by Gale Sears

by  Cheryl  -   reviewed on  March 24, 2012

A very interesting and informative historical novel revolving around one of the first LDS converts in Hong Kong and his great niece. Chen Wen-shan is a fifteen year old girl who has grown up under the roof of her great uncle. She was smuggled out of mainlain China when she was very young and can hardly remember her mother or the area of China that she is from. Her and her uncle do not get along well because they do not understand one another. One day they get a letter asking them to come to a museum to meet with the curator of the museum. When they arrive they are given a wooden box that has been smuggled out of mainland China, along with an art teacher. The box contains letters from Chen Wen-shan's mother and exquisite paintings painted by her grandfather. Some of the paintings portray the area of China she is originally from and show how beautiful the area is. The letters tell the story of the iron fist communist rule over the people in mainland china and the suffering and trials of the people who are kept under that rule. Chen Wen-shan begins to understand her family history and the reasons she was smuggled out of china when she was young and how it happened and how it has blessed her life. She begins to understand her great uncle better and a close relationship is established between the two of them as they read the letters together and look at the paintings. The paintings and letters had been carefully concealed over time and then smuggled out at great risk and finally put into the hands of Chen Wen-shan. The box contains true family treasures and much love. Chen Wen-shan is given the chance to know a little about her mother and her mother's love and longing for her, as well as a chance to know a little about her grandfather and his great talent as a painter. It is a wonderful and enjoyable book to read. Add this book to your bookshelf.

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A Story of Hope

by  Mark  -   reviewed on  March 22, 2012

Gale Sears has written a moving story of the changes which come into the life of a young Chinese girl living in Hong Kong as a broken link between herself and her parents is miraculously repaired. The female protagonist of the book, Wen-shan, is torn from her family in Communist China during the Cultural Revolution and sent to live with her grandfather’s brother in Hong Kong. We follow the sometimes painful transition of Wen-shan from a scared, sometimes bitter girl to a hopeful, grateful young teenager. Her own transition is partnered with that of her great uncle, who has his own demons to battle and overcome. The descriptions of China under the rule of Mao Tse Tung are sometimes emotionally difficult to read, but reflect what others have reported of this era in China’s history. If I have a criticism of the book, it is that sometimes the language seems to play into stereotypes of how some Chinese people speak imperfect English. While some native Chinese may sometimes do so, certainly their spoken communications between themselves in Cantonese or Mandarin would not be devoid of the needed parts of speech, and a fictional translation of conversations in their native tongue should reflect as much. (Amusingly, the book’s fictional nature is highlighted by the unbelievable politeness Hong Kong teenagers are depicted exhibiting towards not only their elders, but also towards one another.) Apart from that, the book is well-written and keeps one reading on hoping for the expected ending that one wishes for. Additionally, I found my mouth watering more than once when Sears writes about Chinese food.

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Wonderful Book!!!

by  Lucinda  -   reviewed on  March 27, 2012

I have come to love the historic fiction of Gale Sears. First in The Silence of God and now in the Letters in the Jade Dragon Box. Her characters have depth of experience that comes through on each page. The history that she gives of the Mao era is heartbreaking. I am not versed in this time period and I learned how horrible it was for the people of China. I would whole heartedly give my recommendation to read this book.

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Loved it!

by  K  -   reviewed on  March 27, 2012

I love this book. I enjoyed the history surrounding Chairman Mao and China. I also fell in love with Chen's story and her connection with her family. Great on audio - won't put you to sleep!

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A very moving story

by  Becky  -   reviewed on  March 27, 2012

I absolutely loved this book from the very beginning. The history was fascinating, and the characters were lovable. It did get a little sad, but there was an underlining hope to the story that overcame the sadness. I highly recommend this book!

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Family bonds of love and devotion make this book worth reading.

by  Sheri  -   reviewed on  March 28, 2012

Letters in the Jade Dragon Box was truly an eye opener for me as far as the treatment of human beings in communist China. I loved the authors descriptions through letters and the emotion involved through family bonds of love and devotion even though they could not be together. I appreciated the historic facts and interesting explanations at the end of each chapter...... definitely a book I would recommend, especially to those who enjoy a historical novel.

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More Than It Seems

by  Carol  -   reviewed on  July 27, 2012

I expected to read a touching story of a young Chinese girl but this book has much more. Anyone who wonders how Socialism and Communism play out, will be enlightened. Gale keeps things lighter than they could be. Some very terrible things happened in China during Mao's rule. This is one story to ponder when life seems rough.

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Great book

by  Courtney  -   reviewed on  October 14, 2012

I enjoyed “The Silence of God” and I loved this book even more. I am very impressed at how well Gale Sears was able to paint vivid pictures my mind by incorporating traditional Chinese culture and beliefs. Confucianism and reverence for ancestors is especially fascinating (half way through the book I downloaded the works of Confucius, and if you remember my definition of a “the classics” you will know that is a very good thing). I also saw many political parallels between Communist China and Communist Russia and even some with the United States in our current political climate. The gospel lessons within were not exclusive to our faith (prayer, miracles, faith, tithing), so I would highly recommend this book, for everyone, not only members of the church. For the rest of this review go to: http://ordinaryhappilyeverafter.com/blog/2011/11/letters-in-the-jade-dragon-box-review/

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