The Fire Horse Girl (Amazon | Goodreads) is just my type of book. It's a story about a girl who doesn't fit in the box where society puts her, she's too loud, too vocal and just too much to be a typical Chinese housewife. Born in the year of the Fire Horse, the worst possible year for a girl to be born, Jade Moon has all the vices - the temper, the stubbornness, the selfishness and the strength.
Because of her unfortunate birth, she's left with little hope in China except being married off against her will to whoever is stupid enough to live with a Fire Horse girl. So when a stranger shows up at her family farm with a money-making scheme that will take him, her father and Jade Moon to America she refuses to be left behind.
The way Jade Moon describes America, what America was to early immigrants, enchanted me. America was more than just a country with lots of fertile land. To Jade Moon and many others America was hope itself.
"Why couldn't I tell them how hard it was to live in China, how people broke off pieces of you to make you fit? Why didn't they want to know what it was like being a Fire Horse, full of strength and power that only destroyed everything I touched?"Things are not as easy as Jade Moon had hoped. But thankfully she's a Fire Horse, strong and stubborn, and she's willing to fight for every inch of independence she can find. That's how Jade Moon ends up masquerading as a boy and accidentally joining the Chinatown mob.
Jade Moon carries this book. She's smart, feisty and always true to herself. She's willing to take risks to get what she wants and to help her friends. She's imperfect (no perfect person ends up joining the chinese mob). She's a very human mix of selfish and selfless, just a girl trying to find her way and carve out a place of her own in the world.
At first the book seemed to move slowly. I wasn't clear on where the story or plot was going. But once everything started happening, I was in love. This book has so much going for it, from a strong believable main character, to diversity (I know people look for that) and a unique slice of history.
At times the writing was quite poetic, yet still simple to read. Some passages were thoughtful and beautiful but rather than bogging down the story, they add layers and depth to Jade Moon's character. Sometimes books make immigration or history feel foreign, but The Fire Horse Girl found the parts of Jade Moon that were universal and created a really accessible story.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.