Letters in the Jade Dragon Box
by Gale Sears
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.
By Courtney, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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.
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By Carol, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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.
By Sheri, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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.
By Becky, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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!
By K, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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!
By Lucinda, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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.
By Mark, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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.
By Cheryl, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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.
By Jared, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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!
By Clark, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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.
By Candy, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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!
By Brenda, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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.
By Shauna, Submitted on 2015-02-25
"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.
By Mark, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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.
By Kimberly, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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.
By Barbara, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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.
By Audra, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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.
By Landon, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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.
By mavis, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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!
By Wade, Submitted on 2015-02-25
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.