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

Tituba: The Intentional Witch of Salem by Dave Tamanini: A Book Review

Tituba: The Intentional Witch of Salem Author: Dave Tamanini Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy Publisher: David F Tamanini Release Date: 2020 Pages: 317 Source: Publisher/Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: If you love historical fiction... come revisit Salem's terror in this provocative new telling of enslaved Tituba, no longer a caricature, but a fully human woman with magical powers.      Come! Let Tituba cast its spell with a unique and tantalizing tale that explores the wild emotions driving accusations of witchcraft in 1692.      A Promise and a Hope      Enslaved Tituba has been faithful to a promise to her dying mama in Africa. She has appeased the masters from Barbados to Boston to Salem and waited for her magic.      A Mother’s Agony      When Tituba’s only son dies trying to escape slavery, her life changes forever. After enduring the crush only a mother can feel, she rages and turns to vengeance.      Witches Tear into Salem      The villagers see wi

The Seven Sisters (The Seven Sisters #1) by Lucinda Riley: A Book Review

The Seven Sisters (The Seven Sisters #1) Author: Lucinda Riley Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance Publisher: Atria Release Date: 2015 Pages: 463 Source: My State Public Library Synopsis: Maia D’Apliese and her five sisters gather together at their childhood home, “Atlantis”—a fabulous, secluded castle situated on the shores of Lake Geneva—having been told that their beloved father, who adopted them all as babies, has died. Each of them is handed a tantalizing clue to her true heritage—a clue which takes Maia across the world to a crumbling mansion in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Once there, she begins to put together the pieces of her story and its beginnings. Eighty years earlier in Rio’s Belle Epoque of the 1920s, Izabela Bonifacio’s father has aspirations for his daughter to marry into the aristocracy. Meanwhile, architect Heitor da Silva Costa is devising plans for an enormous statue, to be called Christ the Redeemer, and will soon travel to Paris to find the right sculptor to