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A Hundred Flowers: A Novel
by Gail Tsukiyama
Hardcover : 304 pages
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The courtyard was still quiet so early in the morning, the neighborhood just waking as Neighbor Lau’s rooster began to crow. The air was already warm, a taste of the heat and humidity that would be unbearable by midday. Seven-year-old Tao knew he had little time to climb the kapok tree before he’d be discovered. He glanced down at the gnarled roots of the tree and felt strangely comforted, a reminder of the crooked ginger roots his ma ma sliced and boiled into strong teas for her headaches, or when his ba ba complained of indigestion. ... view entire excerpt...
Discussion QuestionsWei and Sheng have different philosophies of life as evidenced by their statements on page 17. Wei says to "look for the quiet within the storm" while Shen states to walk "straight into the storm." As the plot unfolds do you feel that these early declarations are true to each man's character?
On page 83 Kai Yeng remembers that Sheng told her that worrying about the worst thing that can happen will take the same amount of energy as hoping for the best. Do you agree? What examples of hope do you find in the book? Do you feel that Sheng had hope? Kai Yeng?
Why is the character of Suyin necessary to the plot? What different roles does she play for the other members of the household?
Do you agree with Wei's observation (page 239) that China "could easily have caught up with the rest of the world if she weren't always being dragged backward"?
In the end the Kapok tree heals itself. Do you feel that the relationship between Wei and Sheng was healed? Are they truly "more alike than either of us knew" (page 281)?
The Kapok tree is almost a character itself in this book. Explain its significance to one or more characters. P. 285 ."...the kapok tree had healed itself." How might this also be true for others in the book? Explain.
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