I just finished reading Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. Let me start off by saying this was a New York Times Best Seller for months. It’s a really interesting book that details the life of a woman named Lily and her laotong (sworn friend for life) Snow Flower. At the age of 7, Lily and Snow Flower become laotong (sworn friends) and both have their feet bound to make them more marriageable. Because Lily has well proportioned feet that are bound to be very small, she embarks on a path upward to marry into a family of higher standing. Snow Flower, because of her birth family’s misfortunes is destined for a harder life. Lily is determined to help her friend improve her standing and help her to deal with her circumstances. They are real life friends but they communicate for the most part in nu shu, a written language used exclusively by Chinese women for centuries and often written on a fan. (Nu shu is real and it was created so that men would not be able to read a message between women. In the past, women learned it from their mothers, sisters, and sworn sisters. Today it is learned and examined by scholars and it is to this date the only language ever written exclusively for women. )Lily and Snow Flower rely on each other to get them through the their daily lives and their messages in nu shu are sacred. But during the course of the book, Lily’s friendship with Snow Flower becomes shaken by a misunderstanding. It is towards the end of the book that Lily realizes the Snow Flower never did anything wrong. It is Lily who actually wronged Snow Flower. Lily then attempts to make up for her mistake.
I really loved this book. I had no idea that there was ever a language written entirely for women. Although the book is fictional, I find it easy to imagine, that women all over China communicated with each other in this way. This book also open my eyes to the pain, discipline, and perseverance that was required in order to have your feet bound and to become a respected women in Chinese society. I highly recommend this book to anybody who likes to read stories about Chinese history.
Dr. Jacqueline Cheung, also known as Jax, grew up in Sacramento, California. She is a Christian Wife, Proud Mom, Major Foodie, Sacramento Native, Elk Grove Resident, Feminist, Adoption Advocate, Blogger, Freelance Writer, and Cat Lover. Jax is the owner of the award winning Jax Chronicles blog & adoption ministry. She also works as a Freelance Writer and writes for Sacramento4Kids, the Elk Grove Laguna News, and many other publications. Jax is married to Dr. Kenneth Cheung (Kenny). Jax and Kenny live in Elk Grove, California and have 2 daughters named Roxy and Carissa, and 3 cats named Mochi, Miso, and Mango. You can follow her journey on Instagram @jaxchronicles, her Jax Chronicles Facebook page , or her Jax Chronicles blog.