- May 26 & 27 - All libraries CLOSED for Memorial Day
In July 2012, our Online Book Club continues by discussing Forget Sorrow by Belle Yang. Each week, we'll put forth a different question to prompt reflection on the book and its themes. We hope you will participate in the discussion, or communicate questions you might have of Forget Sorrow directly to author/illustrator Belle Yang.
Question for Week 4:
Belle had many turbulent events occurring in her life. What were they? Thinking about your own life, was there a particular event or experience that altered your course?
In her life, as recorded in Forget Sorrow, Belle Yang moves from east to west to east, and home again. From the year of her birth in 1960, through 1971, Belle experienced remarkable changes in cultures and languages as she and her family move from Taiwan to Japan, and then to California. Within the golden state, Belle and her family find a home first in free spirited San Francisco and then in the more reserved enclave of Carmel, becoming American citizens in 1975. In 1978, Belle is off to UC Santa Cruz. Four years after graduation, Belle is home again, imprisoned by threats and violence delivered by a former boyfriend turned stalker. In 1986, Baba advises his daughter to flee the U.S. for a meditative stint and further artistic training in China. In 1989, following the Tiananmen Square massacre, where members of the People’s Liberation Army fired upon and killed their own citizens, Belle was pulled from a cab by the PLA and had her passport confiscated. As soon as she can, she returns home once more.
Reunited with her parents, Belle’s dreams are nightmares, burdened with scenes of capture (in the stalker’s hands) and escape (China). In her waking state Belle is simultaneously pulverized by her father’s voiced disappointments and harsh criticisms: "All your friends are MDs and PhDs. Your life is a waste....At your age I was already dean, overseeing thousands of students....Look at you, doing nothing," and mentored by his encouragements: "You’ve got your mind and two hands, one hand for writing and the other for painting. ...If your soul achieves peace, you can attain your goals." She does.
Belle writes, "I thank heaven for life’s jagged path, without which I would never have learned about solitude and patience." What in your life was difficult to experience and how have you changed because of that experience? What did you learn?
For additional reading: A very personal account of the writing of Forget Sorrow and the sense of liberation that followed, please see: http://www.belleyang.com/The%20Language%20of%20Dreams.htm