Two Trees Make a Forest, by Jessica J. Lee
Published by Hamish Hamilton, 28th July 2020
Genres: Nonfiction, Memoir, Travel, Nature
Source: Borrowed (library book)
After unearthing a hidden memoir of her grandfather’s life, Jessica J. Lee was determined to learn more about her family’s history. So she journeyed to Taiwan in search of answers. Taiwan is an island of extremes: from towering mountains to dense rainforests and barren escarpments. But its political history is also fraught with obstacles, mystery and tension.
Seeking to piece together her family’s past, as they moved from China to Taiwan, and then further on to Canada, Jessica not only has to navigate the tumultuous terrain of Taiwan, but also the treacherous and uncertain world of memory and language.
I have mixed feelings about this book. I was intrigued to read it, as a story about immigration and searching for answers about one’s past. But overall, I was left feeling a bit confused and unsure about what I had just read.
Having never been to Taiwan, or Asia for that matter, I found it very interesting to learn about the history, landscapes and nature of Taiwan. Having read this book, I am now very intrigued to travel to Taiwan and explore its natural wonders and see the flora and fauna of this island nation. I love when a book can give me such a window into a country and so much travel inspiration.
Jessica’s search and exploration of her own identity through her family’s past was also very interesting to read about. Her search was further hampered by language barriers and the fact that most of her information came from her grandfather who suffered from dementia and her grandmother who never shared much about her past.
But ultimately, this book was really confusing. It jumped around a lot from one time to another without really giving any context. It skipped from letters, to the present, to stores from the past… As a result, I found it hard to connect with the story and to follow its narrative.
My rating: 3/5