Publishing year: 2013
I find the beginning of this book both cute and very sad.
The main character is William Eng, a Chinese-American boy, growing in a orphanage run by nuns. The conditions there are not the best as the nuns exert strict discipline. William remembers the last time he saw his mother was five years ago when he found her in the bath, unconscious after having attempted against her life. The nuns tell him that his mother went to a mental sanatorium where she died. Yet, William has some doubts about this revelation when the day the boys are treated to a day out at the cinema, William sees a trailer about an actress/singer called Weeping Willow Frost and he’s convinced this woman is his mother.
William’s best friend at the orphanage is Charlotte, a blind girl, and when he tells her about Willow Frost, she believes him and thinks he needs to find her. Charlotte wants to leave the orphanage as the nuns have told her that soon she’ll go to a special centre for people like her, and she knows how horrible those places are. It is Charlotte who convinces William to escape. So they do so, hidden in a mobile library which visited the orphanage.
Now the children are alone in the city. William is afraid of what might happen. They don’t have much money, and on top of it all, Charlotte is blind. They’ll try to contact Willow Frost, and whether they’ll succeed is quite dubious. How will they gain access to see the woman? William is not even sure that Willow is his mother, and if she is, he’s afraid that she might have abandoned him for good and might not want to see him at all.
I love the beginning. I think Charlotte and William are so cute and brave, and I wonder how they’ll fare in the big city.