Book Review


Rating: 5 / 5

I received THE MANY DAUGHTERS OF AFONG MOY by Jamie Ford in my Once Upon a Book Club box. I had loved the author’s HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET so was excited to hear this would be coming to me!

THE MANY DAUGHTERS OF AFONG MOY follows Dorothy, a poet and mother who struggles with her mental health. As she begins to see similar signs in her daughter, she begins to explore the concept of generational trauma, trauma which may be passed down through the bloodline. She is determined to find a way to heal this legacy of trauma to make a better future for her daughter.

This book follows the line of women in Dorothy’s genetic past, going back to the titular character who was the first Chinese woman in America. In subsequent generations, Faye is a nurse in China with the Flying Tigers, Zoe is a student in England, Lai King is a young girl in San Francisco quarantining from a plague, Greta is the creator of a dating app.

I didn’t know a lot about this book going into it, but I was sucked into the story right away. This is a hard one to nail down in terms of genre because we get a lot of historical fiction in some of the generations, but we also see a future world with Dorothy, a world that feels very dystopian in the way that climate change has made severe impacts on the world. While the stories are mostly based in reality (and the author notes go into the historical context for much of what he discusses) there is also an element of magical realism layered onto the science.

I thought that the author did a fantastic job of bringing each of the women we are following to life as the story switches back and forth in time to see how the trauma has followed these women. Though I’m not always a fan of super long chapters, I think it really served the story well that we got to deep dive into a single story line before switching again in many cases. The characters are really well fleshed out and unique to themselves even as there are things that carry through between generations.

In the end I think this was a really good look at a very interesting topic and one that was at times difficult to read, but also in the end pretty uplifting. The audiobook for this was really well done with different narrators for the different women and the author’s notes recorded by the author himself. I did really enjoy that he included some of the origins of the story and his personal connections to some of what he included in the story. I absolutely will be picking up more from Jamie Ford in the future!


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