The Book Mark

Books that make the grade.

The Third Son


The back of the book says that, The Third Son (B) by Julie Wu is “your next obsessive read”. I don’t agree. It was a “fair read” that delivered significant historical information about the Japanese occupation of Taiwan as well as the political unrest that followed. I found nothing to be obsessed with.

Saburo’s personal story as the third son of a prominent political father, mirrors the struggle of his country. As a boy, he is beaten and made to feel worthless. Often hungry physically and mentally, he does all he can to enrich his brain by reading and studying. In the pursuit of knowledge, he sets as his goal an exam that is given yearly which if passed allows you to study in the United States. His brother a hateful man who is jealous of anything that Saburo acquires for himself often sabotages his efforts. It is Saburo who wins the love of Yoshiko, the girl that Kazuo thought he deserved. After marrying Yoshiko and becoming a parent himself, Saburo becomes even more determined to get to the United States. His tenacity and will to be a better parent than his own drives him toward incredible achievements.

The underlying love story of Saburo and Yoshiko add dimension to an otherwise dry tale. I often found myself speed reading through the technical and political scenes to get to the more enjoyable love story. All in all, it will not rank among my favorites but it merits a recommendation for anyone who is a history buff of this particular time frame.


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