Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Palest Ink by Kay Bratt

Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review: 'The Palest Ink,' A Historical Fiction by Kay Bratt.

Times of turmoil often breed courage and valor. In The Palest Ink by Kay Bratt, we are trust into a story of a Cultural Revolution supported by Chairman Mao. As his Red Guard begins a deadly assault on their people leaving many innocent victims in their wake, there are those who believe they can create their own mark on history through the opportunity of rebellion.

Benfu is a young man, worried more about his career as a violinist and an arranged marriage that he wants no part of, then the possibility of revolution. His family are intellectuals and teach in Shanghai. They know of the histories and the possibilities of the coming surge and how they must now begin to hide valuables and change in order to stay under the radar of those hunting for possible rebellion.  They also understand how often the innocent can be targeted, and history supports the dangers inherent in the coming wave of assault.

Pony Boy, a member of the lower class, is Benfu’s best friend. Their futures are very different and they look at life in different ways. Together in the struggle of Political turmoil, they must both make decisions that can affect both themselves and their family. Thrown together in the chaos of revolution, they begin their own mission and rebellion against the red tide of Mao’s Red Guard.

Can they find a way to make their mark on history? Life moves quickly for both, and the tide turns ever sharply for their own families. Will they continue on their quest, or is all lost for themselves and their families.

Bratt has given us characters that begin in loving homes, Benfu, ready for university, and in the tradition of the country soon to be affianced.  His best friend has a harder life and yet in both cases their innocence shines through. As the darkening of revolution begins it changes them and they both have to find a way to grow and live in the chaos created in the wave of danger and deaths.  Bratt has given us a time of turmoil and has allowed us to watch the growth of these two youths into entirely different people then where they started.

The Revolution itself is well documented and the historical significance of Chairman Mao’s Red Guard leave fear in its wake. The danger and fear that come through the writing create discomfort and unrest, much as it must have been during the times. The addition of the danger is palpable, and adds to the chaotic feelings left after the reading of this work.

If you enjoy history, revolution, courage, romance and family, then this will make a great work for your library. Kay Bratt has given us a work of intensity.

This would be a great work for a reading group with an amazing array of information for discussion.

Rating 4/5

1 comment:

fish48223 said...

Often Women’s Fiction is where one finds Kay Bratt’s books. Spoiler Alert-“The Palest Ink” is not just for women.

“The Palest Ink” describes how two boys become men while in the midst of China’s Cultural Revolution. Hard decisions had to be made during these tumultuous times. Do they follow their consciences and values while China is evolving right before their eyes? What are the consequences of following the masses? Would they change their sense of right and wrong while those around them struggled to come up with their own answers? Kay Bratt supplies the answers and more!

The Palest Ink is a Man’s Book. Benfu and Pony Boy are challenged to become men while still in their teens. It portrays chivalry, responsibility, friendship, and love. Man topics if I say so myself. “The Palest Ink” is a book I just couldn’t put down. The story was riveting and consuming. The characters came to life in such a way that I vicariously lived their lives with them.

Kay Bratt writes like she knows China and she does know China. I’ve read 10 of her books and I’ve loved them all. I’ve enjoyed her writings like I’ve enjoyed the writings of Ji-li Jiang (The Red Scarf Girl) and Xinran (The Good Women of China). She shares their passion for China and it’s displayed in her stories.

“The Palest Ink” is a book that’s categorized Women’s Fiction, but it should be Men’s Fiction also. It’s a fabulous book and lays a firm foundation for Kay Bratt’s Scavenger’s Daughters series.

I was given an advanced copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.