Skip to main content

The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds (Malayan #1) by Selina Siak Chin Yoke: A Book Review

The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds (Malayan #1)
Author: Selina Siak Chin Yoke
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: AmazonCrossing
Release Date: 2016
Pages: 476
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Synopsis: Facing challenges in an increasingly colonial world, Chye Hoon, a rebellious young girl, must learn to embrace her mixed Malayan-Chinese identity as a Nyonya—and her destiny as a cook, rather than following her first dream of attending school like her brother.

     Amidst the smells of chillies and garlic frying, Chye Hoon begins to appreciate the richness of her traditions, eventually marrying Wong Peng Choon, a Chinese man. Together, they have ten children. At last, she can pass on the stories she has heard—magical tales of men from the sea—and her warrior’s courage, along with her wonderful kueh (cakes).

     But the cultural shift towards the West has begun. Chye Hoon finds herself afraid of losing the heritage she so prizes as her children move more and more into the modernising Western world.

     My Review: The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds tells the story of Chye Hoon, a woman of mixed Chinese and Malayan heritage. Chye Hoon is a young girl in Malaya who learns about her distinct heritage. She also yearns to go to school to learn how to read and write like her brother, Chong Jin. Because she was a girl, she learned how to cook instead.  When she grew older, she had a hard time finding a husband. She was unsuitable because she had shown her temper in public. 

     When a husband was found for her, he was a Chinese man who already had a wife and son in China. He had left his family there and planned to make a new one with Chye Hoon in Malaya. Their marriage was peaceful and they had ten children. When business brings Chye Hoon’s husband back to China, she dreads him leaving, for she fears she would never see him again. Her husband dies in China leaving Chye Hoon alone with ten children. Chye Hoon decides to run a business as a cook. However, her hardships are just beginning. Chye Hoon struggles to maintain her identity and her tradition as her country becomes more modernized.

     I really love Chye Hoon. She was a woman whom I could relate with. She is strong, determined, and wise. She is also very feisty and energetic. She does have a temper, which is often looked down upon. However, her best quality is that she never let her trials and tragedies get to her. Thus, her endurance is her strength. I also like how she excelled despite her weaknesses. Therefore, readers will greatly admire Chye Hoon and will want to know what happens to her.

    Overall, this book is about family, friendship, love, identity, and tradition versus modernity. The characters seemed very realistic and complex. After reading, I felt as I if I had known them. The writing is lyrical and evocative. The story itself was hard to put down and was so enthralling that readers will want to turn the pages to know the ending. I also loved the setting of Malaya, and I learned a lot about the Chinese and Malaysian culture. The only thing that I did not like about it was there were a few drawn-out scenes. Still, this is a book that you do not want to miss! I can’t wait to read the sequel, When The Future Comes Too Soon, which focuses on Chye Hoon’s daughter-in-law, Mei. Thus, I recommend this not only to those interested in Malaysia, but also to readers of Lilli De Jong, Threads of Silk, and The Ohana

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki: A Book Review

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post Author: Allison Pataki Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Ballantine Release Date: February 15, 2022 Pages: 381 Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: Mrs. Post, the President and First Lady are here to see you. . . . So begins another average evening for Marjorie Merriweather Post. Presidents have come and gone, but she has hosted them all. Growing up in the modest farmlands of Battle Creek, Michigan, Marjorie was inspired by a few simple rules: always think for yourself, never take success for granted, and work hard—even when deemed American royalty, even while covered in imperial diamonds. Marjorie had an insatiable drive to live and love and to give more than she got. From crawling through Moscow warehouses to rescue the Tsar’s treasures to outrunning the Nazis in London, from serving the homeless of the Great Depression to entertaining Roosevelts, Kennedys, and Hollywood’s biggest stars, Marjorie Merriweath

Iceberg by Jennifer A. Nielsen: A Book Review

  Iceberg Author: Jennifer A. Nielsen Genre: Children, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Adventure Publisher: Scholastic Release Date: March 7, 2023 Pages: 317 Source: My State Public Library Synopsis : As disaster looms on the horizon, a young stowaway onboard the Titanic will need all her courage and wits to stay alive. A thrilling tale from New York Times bestselling author Jennifer A. Nielsen!     Hazel Rothbury is traveling all alone from her home in England aboard the celebrated ship Titanic . Following the untimely death of her father, Hazel’s mother is sending her to the US to work in a factory, so that she might send money back home to help her family make ends meet.     But Hazel harbors a secret dream: She wants to be a journalist, and she just knows that if she can write and sell a story about the Titanic ’s maiden voyage, she could earn enough money to support her family and not have to go to a sweatshop. When Hazel discovers that mother didn’t send her with enough money for

The War Queens by Rebecca Hazell: A Book Review

The War Queens Author: Rebecca Hazell Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Tellwell Talent Release Date: 2023 Pages: 496 Source: This book was given to me by the publicist in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: By the sixth century, the Roman Empire is already lost to tribal invasions, brutal Merovingian Franks have seized Gaul from the civilized Romanized Visigoths, and a dark age has descended across Europe. Now a deadly rivalry arises between two Merovingian queens. Brunhilda and Fredegunda are equals in beauty and intelligence, but opposite in vision and temperament. When the Franks demand a royal bride, Visigoth Brunhilda marries into a world that despises women. Suddenly thrust into power and repeatedly facing loss and grief, she seeks to revive a new Rome based on justice and prosperity. Her implacable foe, Fredegunda, is a former slave concubine who lives only for personal power. Insanely jealous of high-born Brunhilda, she uses seduction, assassination, war, and even witc