If this isn’t on the Not the Booker list then it should be.
It’s hard to say which character should really have been in the spotlight in this book. In this case it is Alex, but I would love to hear the story from Ivy’s perspective and delve deeper into her life. Perhaps even go back to Tiananmen Square, the story of her sister and the massacre.
Ivy shows Alex the reality of living as immigrants and worker bees in and under the oppressive regime of the Chinese government. She opens his eyes to the injustices happening on a daily basis all around them.
Alex struggles with fitting in the way his father expects him to, and he dislikes the hypocrisy his father displays. After experiencing oppression, genocide and hatred because of their faith it seems a paradox that their family be involved in the oppression of other human beings.
Towards the end I think it is fair to say that Alex begins to doubt whether Ivy has pure motives. Did she intentionally target and manipulate the privileged heir? Is the scent of freedom stronger than her conscience or is it her guilty conscience driving her actions and words?
The relationship between Alex and his father is the catalyst that propels the young man forward and helps him to discover his backbone. The old man is one of the dinosaurs, the old boy capitalist brigade who detest change and put money over everything else.
This story encompasses a lot of genres including history, politics, civil and human rights. It’s important to remember the modern era in which this takes place and take note of the injustices. It’s ironic, actually it is ruthless and tragic, that capitalists who profit from democracies in their native countries profit financially from having factories and using workforces in countries run by autocratic regimes and/or oppressive communist regimes.
This is a story of awakening and also about acknowledging the corruption hidden in the guise of employment and development. I look forward to reading more by Wise in the future.