Title: Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze

Author: Elizabeth Foreman Lewis

Publisher: Square Fish (April 29, 2008)

Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze Page Count: 320

ISBN #:0312380070

Publication Date: 1933


Young Fu, a thirteen-year-old farm boy, has just arrived in the big city with his mother. The untimely death of his father forces him to grow up quickly and take over responsibilities as head of household. Young Fu finds out quickly the cruel and unforgiving nature of big city life as he strives to make a place for himself. The difficult experiences he endures, and the strong friendships he builds along the way, make this a great coming of age story.

Thoughts on the book:

“Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze” is a compelling narrative that not only portrays the coming-of-age of its protagonist, Young Fu, but also paints a vivid picture of the socio-political landscape of early 20th century China. The story begins with a tragic event – the unjust death of Young Fu’s father at the hands of corrupt soldiers. This moment sets the stage for Young Fu’s journey, a tale of resilience and maturity beyond his years.

Books Worth Reading:

In the lower echelons of society, where the story is set, life is a constant struggle for survival. Young Fu’s response to his father’s death is a testament to his strength and maturity. He steps into his father’s shoes, navigating a world rife with cruelty and corruption. The author, Elizabeth Foreman Lewis, does an exceptional job in illustrating the harsh realities faced by those in the lower classes, painting a picture that is both realistic and empathetic.

What makes Young Fu’s journey remarkable is his ability to discern and befriend individuals who embody wisdom and kindness, despite the prevalent corruption around him. This aspect of the story highlights the importance of mentorship and the impact of positive role models in a young person’s life. The characters Young Fu encounters, from the coppersmith Tang to other figures in the bustling city of Chungking, each play a crucial role in shaping his path.

The book also delves into the universal themes of struggle and the quest for independence, which are amplified in the context of poverty and societal constraints. Lewis masterfully portrays the weight of these pressures, yet balances it with a narrative of hope, resilience, and the strength of human character.

A Question of Morality and Governance:

One intriguing question that arises from the narrative is: If citizens don’t rise up against corrupt leaders, are they just as much to blame for their own subjugation?

This question is particularly pertinent in the context of Young Fu’s story. The book subtly explores the dynamics of power and responsibility. It raises critical questions about the role of citizens in a corrupt system and the moral obligations of individuals in the face of injustice. The story prompts readers to ponder the complexities of governance, societal structures, and the individual’s place within them.

Books Worth Reading:

Favorite Quote and Its Significance:

“No man can rule the unruly until he first rules himself.” – Elizabeth Foreman Lewis, “Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze”

This quote encapsulates a central theme of the novel – the importance of self-governance and personal responsibility. It reflects the journey of Young Fu, who learns to navigate a world filled with challenges and moral dilemmas. The quote is a profound statement on leadership and self-discipline, suggesting that true authority stems from one’s ability to control and understand oneself before attempting to influence or lead others.

Concluding Thoughts:

“Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze” is more than just a coming-of-age story; it is a rich exploration of societal challenges, moral complexities, and the resilience of the human spirit. Elizabeth Foreman Lewis provides readers with a window into a world that, while set in the past, resonates with timeless themes. Young Fu’s journey from a boy to a young man, set against the backdrop of a society undergoing tremendous change, is a compelling narrative that offers insights into the human condition and the unyielding spirit of youth.

In summary, the book is a poignant reminder of the strength that lies within us to overcome adversity, the importance of choosing our influences wisely, and the enduring power of human character in the face of life’s many challenges. It is a story that will resonate with readers of all ages, providing both a historical perspective and timeless wisdom.

Books Like Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze

Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze” by Elizabeth Foreman Lewis is a remarkable story set in the 1920s China, offering a window into the life of a young boy named Young Fu. If you were captivated by this journey you are probably looking for books just liek Young Fu, here are 20 books that share similar themes of cultural exploration, historical settings, and coming-of-age stories.

Books Worth Reading:

1. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin

In this enchanting book, Grace Lin combines Chinese folklore and fantasy. Young Minli sets off on an adventure to find the Old Man of the Moon to improve her family’s fortune.

2. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel provides a rich depiction of life in a Chinese village before World War I, presenting a classic perspective on a different culture and era.

3. Dragonwings by Laurence Yep

Set in the early 20th century, it narrates the story of a young Chinese boy migrating to America, exploring themes of immigration, adaptation, and the pursuit of dreams.

4. Revolution is Not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine

This novel offers an insightful view of the Cultural Revolution in China through the experiences of a young girl, highlighting resilience and hope amidst adversity.

5. Bound by Donna Jo Napoli

A creative retelling of the Cinderella story set in ancient China, this book tells the story of a young girl who overcomes challenges and carves her own destiny.

Books Worth Reading:

6. When the Mountain Laughs by Nguyễn Nhật Ánh

Set in Vietnam, this novel shares themes of youth and cultural richness, weaving a touching narrative about childhood, family, and rural life.

7. The House of Sixty Fathers by Meindert DeJong

In the midst of World War II China, this story follows a young boy’s journey to safety and his interactions with American soldiers.

8. Under the Blood-Red Sun by Graham Salisbury

Taking place in Hawaii during World War II, it follows a young Japanese-American boy grappling with the challenges and prejudices of wartime.

9. The Kite Fighters by Linda Sue Park

Set in 15th-century Korea, this novel delves into the life of a young boy aspiring to be a kite fighter, exploring themes of tradition, ambition, and brotherhood.

10. A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

Another work by Linda Sue Park, this book is about an orphan in medieval Korea who dreams of becoming a potter, highlighting perseverance and artistic ambition.

Books Worth Reading:

11. The Samurai’s Tale by Erik Christian Haugaard

In feudal Japan, this novel follows a young servant boy who rises to become a samurai warrior, encapsulating an epic tale of honor, bravery, and destiny.

12. Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr

Inspired by a true story, this novel is about a young girl in Hiroshima who falls ill due to the atomic bomb and finds hope in an ancient Japanese legend.

13. The Conch Bearer by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

A fantasy novel set in India, it narrates a young boy’s quest to return a magical conch to its rightful place, weaving a story of courage and loyalty.

14. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

This novel tells the survival story of a young Native American girl stranded for years on an island off the California coast, exploring themes of resilience and solitude.

15. Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan

Set in India, this novel follows a young girl’s journey through an arranged marriage and her quest for self-discovery and independence.

Books Worth Reading:

16. The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer

Set in Zimbabwe in the year 2194, this science fiction novel combines African culture with futuristic elements, following three children’s adventurous quest for freedom.

17. Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

This beautifully written novel in verse tells the moving story of a young Vietnamese girl’s immigration to America after the fall of Saigon.

18. Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus

Based on a true story, this novel chronicles the adventures of a Japanese boy who is rescued by an American ship after being shipwrecked, offering a cross-cultural narrative.

19. Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins

Set in Bangladesh, this novel follows the story of a young girl who disguises herself as a boy to operate a rickshaw, addressing themes of gender roles and poverty.

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