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Hardcover The Middle Heart Book

ISBN: 0394534328

ISBN13: 9780394534329

The Middle Heart

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Like New

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Book Overview

It is the summer of 1932, the year the Japanese conquered Manchuria, China's northeast region. Three children meet and become best friends for the summer, and blood brothers for a lifetime. They are: Steel Hope, the second son of the House of Li, a once-great clan which survives now on handouts from his grandfather, a merchant who trafficks whith the Japanese; Steel Hope's bookmate, Mountain Pine, Steel Hope's servant and conscience; and the irrepressible...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

The Middle Heart

ISBN 0394534328 - Reading the About the Author page before I began reading the book left me wary of what I might find on the pages. Building a career on writing books about the culture you're descended from, but have never really lived in, seems unlikely to result in ethnically-accurate stories. I can't say whether or not Lord hit her mark but I did, periodically, feel like I could have been reading a book set in almost any place, so I don't feel that she really drew the reader into China. Steel Hope is the illegitimate son of Stone Guardian and his lover, Amber Willows. The woman he will know as his mother, Jade, is an odd mixture of an unattractive woman and a vain one, and is glad to claim Steel Hope as her own. Now she has given a son to the House of Li and still managed to maintain her figure. She even "allows" Amber Willows to serve as the child's wet nurse, bringing her crippled brother, Mountain Pine, too. In time, Mountain Pine will become Steel Hope's bookmate and best friend, neither boy aware of their blood relationship. The boys meet and befriend another young man, Firecrackers, and the three become inseparable - especially after it comes to light that Firecrackers is actually a girl and the daughter of the gravekeeper. They pledge an oath to always remain "brothers" and, despite the intervention of years and events, they do so. They are rarely together over the years; at most times two of them are together but the third is not with them. For years after the gravekeeper's death, it is Mountain Pine and Steel Hope who are together, as they further their educations. Firecrackers, in the meantime, has made a new friend of a woman named Mushroom. Mushroom has introduced Firecrackers to the theater where she, as Summer Wishes, begins a career that will bring her back to her brothers. The boys find themselves in the audience as the stunning Summer Wishes takes the stage, then in the same bomb shelter with the dazzling actress... but, although both boys are taken with her, neither recognizes her until she tells them who she is. The trio of brothers is now, and for the remainder of the book, a strange sort of love triangle, wherein "doing the right thing" tends to outweigh love and the boisterous, headstrong young girl that was Firecrackers becomes a weak woman. The books spans the remainder of the their lives and the decades of upheaval in China. I was bothered by some things - Firecrackers was a young girl who, posing as a boy, was presented as strong and capable and made of sterner stuff than Steel Hope, son of a wealthy family, and Mountain Pine, the cripple. Yet, as an adult, she seems to let everything outside of herself determine her fate in every way, from who she will marry and when she will marry him to the roles she will play. It's disconcerting that she is, rather abruptly to me, broken so easily. There is also the fact that Lord chooses not to name World War II or the Communist revolution or any other event

Chinese Culture

I have to say that this book greatly described how the Chinese Revolution affected the people and the country in general. I also have to say that this book is better appreciated if you know about the revolution IN DETAIL. I also have to make a comment that I don't think the people who read the previous reviews knew much about what happened in China in the early 20th century. The compassion in the book is real and the events more. I read this book at the beginning of 8th grade...which means I read it before I turned 14 and I think this novel deserves better appreciation than people gave it.


It might be judged sentimental, perhaps even labelled wooden and contrived. But I found it nonetheless to be a great read. Bette Bao Lord manages to create an emotional universe in which her characters are not only believable and their fates compelling, but also tells a story which is touching in the way good stories should be.

one tragic chinese novel

well in the first place, i'm not chinese so i can't react to how 'chinese' her novel is. this is one of the few novels that i've sworn not to read again not because it was ugly... but because it made me cry. i don't like crying and would rather smile and smile and smile than cry. but this novel suceeded in doing that. it is very tragic and a good story of friendship. highly recommended for those who want to shed a few tears...definitely it's not for me.

Dive into Chinese Culture

Ms Lord presents a wonderful story of the unknown China at its time of cultural disrupture in a comprehensive way, especially for Non-Asian readers. The only criticism is, firstly, the plot of the story seems rather constructed and out of place with the move of the last remaining heir to the United States. Secondly, partially a richer description of the characters would have helped to better distinguish between East and West. Nevertheless, her book opens a fascinating window to peep into the Middle Kingdom from early this century to the present from your armchair. Karin Jork, MBA, M.A.(Int'l Relations, USC)
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