Title: Song of the Silk Road
Author: Mingmei Yip
(Taken from Amazon.com)
As a girl growing up in Hong Kong, Lily Lin was captivated by photographs of the desert – its long, lonely vistas and shifting sand dunes. Now living in New York, Lily is struggling to finish her graduate degree when she receives an astonishing offer. An aunt she never knew existed will pay Lily a huge sum to travel across China’s desolate Taklamakan Desert – and carry out a series of tasks along the way. Intrigued, Lily accepts. Her assignments range from the dangerous to the bizarre. Lily must seduce a monk. She must scrape a piece of clay from the famous Terracotta Warriors, and climb the Mountains of Heaven to gather a rare herb. At Xian, her first stop, Lily meets Alex, a young American with whom she forms a powerful connection. And soon, she faces revelations that will redefine her past, her destiny, and the shocking truth behind her aunt’s motivations…Powerful and eloquent, “Song of the Silk Road” is a captivating story of self-discovery, resonant with the mysteries of its haunting, exotic landscape.
I love books about the Asian culture. Seeing as I cannot yet afford to travel to Asia, I rely on books to bring me there in my own imagination. One of my favorite books of all time is Memoirs of a Geisha, a coming of age story. Though Song of the Silk Road focuses on the Chinese culture and history, something I did not know much about but was excited to discover. Needless to say, I was very excited to read Song of the Silk Road. It sounded like it was a mixture of adventure and beautiful Asian scenery. What is not to love?
Lily Lin is an aspiring novelist in NYC. She has lost the inspiration to write and she’s stuck, like many aspiring authors are. When an attorney delivers the news to Lily that an Aunt she never knew she had is leaving her 3 million dollars, she is confused, yet ecstatic to be coming in to some money. But there is a catch. In order for Lily to collect the 3 million, she must travel to China and perform a series of tasks that her Aunt has assigned along the ancient Chinese Silk Road. Needing some inspiration for her novel (and all the money) Lily decides that she will travel alone to China and do what she needs to do to earn her inheritance.
I want to say that I loved the book, but I didn’t love it. Although I did enjoy the read and did finish the book in about a week. There was nothing spectacular about the writing style, unfortunately. To pinpoint what exactly lacked in the style of writing is hard to say. I believe it was more of the personality and thought process of the character that separated me from the character, making it more difficult to fully engage myself in the story. But that could have easily been overlooked had Lily been a more moral, likeable character.
Lily was involved in an affair with her married professor. Even though she knew this, she still engaged in a “sex-only” relationship with him. He would bring her Chinese food (or cook for her) at her studio apartment and then they would have sex. So when she decides to leave for China, needless to say Chris isn’t all that pleased. But 3 million dollars is more important to her than the guy she says she is in love with so she goes, anyway. After all, money is more important than love, right?
While in China Lily meets this pushy American named Alex Luce. He is so desperate for her company that it is beyond creepy. She must have told him a dozen times that she wanted to be left alone, yet he shows up wherever she is and doesn’t take no for an answer. Being in first person of Lily, you sense no interest whatsoever. Yet somehow along the way she falls in love with her stalker? Alright.. Yet even when she admits to being in love with Alex, I never feel the love. She still acts selfishly and hurts his feelings more times than you can count. With Alex being overbearing and creepy and Lily being without human emotion, it’s impossible to support their relationship, or any of the bedtime lovers she collects along the way.
Lily is so free with the “love” word that I wonder if she even really understood what it meant?
Regardless of this empty character and relationship that I did not like, I really enjoyed reading about China and the various places she encounters. I loved learning the history and the words and about the various superstitions and ceremonies that take place in China. Overall it was an interesting read, although the author leaves much to be desired in the characters themselves.