learn from another writer…

images (44)Title: Inheritance
Author: Lan Samantha Chang
337 pages

Hong was born in china from a beautiful mother Junan and Li Ang who was a soldier. Her father had to leave the family because of Japanese invasion. Junan send her sister Yinan to accompany her husband but shocked when they caught into relationship and Yinan got pregnant. Li Ang was force to choose and he decided to stay with Yinan as Junan took their daughters to Taiwan. Hong also got pregnant from Hu Ran, the son of their former maid Hu Mudan but sadly he died when try to get to Taiwan. Later on Hong, her mother and her sister Hwa moved to America and live there for many years. She married Tom and has another daughter but feel obligated to resolve her family dispute. She went to visit her father and Yinan but couldn’t convinced her mother to forgive them.
Below are some of my favorite lines from the book.

about her name:
Because I was born so close to Mma’s death, my mother feared that my grandmother’s dark and stubborn soul might bind itself to me and follow me forever. And so she gave me a name unrecognizable to Mma, a character used in neither the Li nor the Wang families. She called me Hong: a word meaning the color red, the color of life. A word to separate me from Mma and all of her concerns. A simple word to give me my own strength – so common, and so plain, that I might have been a peasant girl. My mother naming plan succeeded. I didn’t suffer from nightmares or hear echoes of Mma crabbed voice. Moreover I didn’t take after my great-grandmother. Of Mma most difficult qualities – such as her pettiness, constipation, and solitary anger – I inherited only her insomnia. (P. 74)

about her father betrayal:
The next morning, Li Ang washed himself meticulously and left the flat with high hopes that in the evening, when he return, everything would be put back into it;s place and he and Yinan would once again be like brother and sister. Surely she would tell no one. Soon she would be married off and it would be as if nothing had happened. But as the hours passed, he felt his concentration thinning…he was unable to focus on more that two or three words in a sentence without his mind’s sye flashing back to that vision of her door. A few minutes later it would happen again. It was as if the sun were burning the haze off of his mind and revealing its true subject. Over and over again, he saw himself walking toward her door…By the end of the day he was unable to keep still. He left the instant it was excusable and hurried back, impatient to run up the stairs and open the door and soothe himself against her skin. (p.156)

about her sister Hwa:
So Hwa’s defensiveness ran in her blood, as did her desire for answer, he cool poise, and her hesitance to trust. Over time, she learn to manage herself. She didn’t loose control, she didn’t confide. she barely knew our father, and her belief in our mother’s love was absolute. later, when we were settled in America at a safe remove from the tumult of our childhood, Hwa would remain devoted and invite our mother to live with her in California. She would believe exactly what our mother chose to tell her. And she would stand staunchly in favor of our mother’s attitude toward our past – she wouldn’t care contemplate the family story, nor would she support my efforts to do so. (p. 194)

about her mother’s anger:
She planned for Yinan to preoccupy him. But then something happened that she hadn’t planned. How could she have known? She who had refused to see the strength of her own passion, she who’s loved him for so many years without telling him about her love or knowing his desires. She must have retraced each telegram and each event, driven to know exactly how her plan had slipped from her control. Yet the central mystery of those months in Chongqing could never be uncovered. There was an elusive, stubborn element she couldn’t have predicted. It was untidy, it went beyond her preconceptions, It had crept up on her, the way a hidden tree root can destroy the foundation of a house. Now slowly she began to see what Yinan tried to tell her. what she’d refused to see. She had lost Li Ang. Yinan was no longer the sister she known. Yinan had betrayed her. It was their love that betrayed her, more than anything, more than even their child. It was their love that couldn’t be forgiven (p. 195-196)

about her relationship with Hu Ran:
Hu Ran and I had nothing to guide us. In the space of an hour, I pushed us recklessly beyond the borders of friendship, decency, and class. years before, I’d spied him naked behind the willow tree, and my curiosity had led to our separation. Now these impulses, blocked by our parents had rediscovered us, and although this time the led to our reunion, we had both grown old enough to know that what we were doing was unthinkable. And so we loved each other with the cruelty of frightened people. Our love was not tranquil and not always kind. I hurt him with information and he wounded me with secrecy. He thought I took my wealth for granted and I thought that he was oversensitive about his poverty. I didn’t know at the time, but we were mirroring the struggle all around us. It was the country’s struggle living through our actions and our words. (p. 233)

about her life in America:
I must have appeared no different from many women in New York City – taller, perhaps, and more recently arrived, wearing an expression rather faraway. I had studied English, found a job, and learn to hold my American life together. No one looked at me would have known my story or my inheritance, by the separation and betrayals of my country, my family, and myself. For years I kept myself aloof from even Hwa and my mother. I saw them only on vacations. I avoided their hints that I might find a man, perhaps a widower, who could overlook what they considered the shame of little Mudan. I told them I wasn’t interested in marriage. actually I was afraid. How could I love another when I had made it so clear that I couldn’t be relied upon? I knew too many of my weaknesses, I had no strength to cry. Only my daughter was exempt from this. I was determined not to fail Mudan. Every morning I woke up for her, and every evening I hurried home to be with her. (p. 281)

about her visit to China:
And so I described Hwa’s instruction that i not tell my mother about our trip. I talked about my mother’s money and her beautiful walled house with its contemplative garden and green roof tiles. I told them about the way she prayed for hours alone before the figure of Guan Yin. I told them everyone believe my father was dead. My father looked tired and Yinan wept, but she kept asking questions. She insisted that I give her my mother address. her questions were quiet and plaintive like the questions of a child. My own voice sounded cold in my ears – was it my mother’s legacy in dealing with such feeling? or was it because I knew that with each word I was betrayed her? And yet I didn’t feel disloyal to her.My loyalty was of another kind. Like Yinan, I believed that she could still be comforted. (p.308-309)

about her mother end of life:
I open my lips but could not speak. She stared straight ahead, barely, into the darkness…her eyes closed. “you were always his daughter,” she said, almost to herself. “you wouldn’t understand.” She was right. we know so little about the people who have come before us. And so my mother and I reached a kind of truce…As I left the room I handed her the string of small buddhas she kept on her night table. She couldn’t move her fingers but she like to hold the beads. Something in their regularity comforted her, as in the prayers she’s repeated for the past few decades. Now I knew she wasn’t praying for release, forgiveness, or an easy end. The prayers gave her strength. They somehow deepened her resolve to live until her end without changing. (p.330)


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