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    Heartbreaking Tale of Love and Loss

    This is the love story of Elizabeth, an American woman, and Gerald, half Chinese and half American. (I know, American isn’t a race or an ethnicity. This is a book of cultural differences, East and West, rather than race or ethnicity.) Gerald, Elizabeth and their son Rennie live in China, and must separate during the Communist revolution. Elizabeth and Rennie return to Vermont and Elizabeth’s family home. Elizabeth is the narrator, and she slowly details the story of their love and life together, as well as their son’s struggles to find a place where he fits. I don’t know if it is because I am more pragmatic than Ms. Buck or other readers, but I felt as if their romance was more one-sided from the very beginning. Elizabeth was living a fantasy. She loves Gerald so much at first glance that she pursues him, certain she will make him her husband. They marry, despite Gerald never seeming to be as passionate as Elizabeth. They move to China, and Gerald’s loyalty to his country means he stays in China while he sends Elizabeth and Rennie to the U.S. Elizabeth’s puts her life on hold, hoping that someday Gerald will return, all the while knowing he won’t. What I found sadder than their love lost was Elizabeth’s inability to face reality (I won’t explain further and give away the spoilers). She blames circumstances for Gerald's absence, and that is true to a point. However, she even places blame with Gerald's father for not loving Gerald's mother, which just didn't seem to make sense to me. As with the few other other Pearl S. Buck works that I have read, the writing is superb. She captures place and emotion so well with her beautiful prose. Definitely will be looking into some of her other works, as well as perhaps a biography. While I knew she won the Nobel Prize, I did not know she founded Welcome House, the first international, interracial adoption agency specifically for placing mixed race children who were considered unadoptable. Her other philanthropic outreaches included the Pearl S. Buck Foundation to address poverty and discrimination faced by children in Asian countries and the Opportunity Center and Orphanage in South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam. She was a woman way ahead of her time, and did not fear reprisal for speaking out.
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