Title: Butterfly Tears
Author: Zoe S. Roy
Publisher: Inanna Publications and Education Inc.
This novel is a collection of 15 short stories written by Zoe Roy, who was born in China and lived under the Red Terror of Chairman Mao. These stories no doubt are written from some of her life experiences, but also endowed with her fictional storytelling ability. I won’t try to write about each story as that would be too lengthy for this forum, so I’ll try to summarize the main themes put forth.
Women’s experiences from childhood through adulthood are the focus of the short stories. Using the technique of flashback, some characters relive a simple life on a peasant farm or some a lost love or some the struggle of wondering about Mao’s ideology. We see how the young were indoctrinated and psychologically manipulated into Mao’s regime and the struggle of some to adopt his ideologies as they were forced to give up family, friends, and the only way of life they had ever known. There is also a strange story included about the use of pesticides. I don’t understand why this very weird story was included in the collection.
The ideology of feminism is also portrayed in some of the stories as well as the abuse of women and their reactions to it. There is some man-bashing that goes on in some stories that I didn’t appreciate. Also, there were two stories that questionably could be interpreted as two females in a relationship that could be more than friendship in one story and the subject of incest is touched upon in another. Immorality via affairs also occurs in more than one of the stories. I didn’t enjoy these stories with these particular undercurrents.
While I enjoyed learning about women’s experiences in China during this time period and their subsequent adjustments to freedom, I found the conclusions too many of the stories to just stop without any real resolutions or wrapping things up. At the end of some of the stories, I was left scratching my head, thinking “Huh, that’s it?” I found some of the characters in certain stories stiff and not true to life; however, there were some characters that seemed to provide genuine emotions that I could relate to. Most of the stories are disjointed and the change from flashback to the present is not a smooth transition. I would have enjoyed more historical information and less feminist propaganda.
My rating is 2 stars.
Note: I received a complimentary copy for an honest review of this book. The opinions shared in this review are solely my responsibility. Other reviews can be read at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/ . Also follow me on Twitter @lcjohnson1988, FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/lisa.johnson.75457