Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Review: Petals From the Sky by Mingmei Yip

Meng Ning is finally going to see if her vocation is to become a Buddhist nun like her mentor, the lovely nun who saved her life so many years ago. Finally all but finished with her doctorate, Meng Ning signs up for a retreat to test her desire to enter the Empty Gate, forsaking love and marriage. But a fire breaks out in the convent and she is fortuitously rescued by a handsome American doctor, igniting in her a seed of doubt about her own path. More than a traditional love story, this is the tale of a woman discovering herself and her own desires.

As Meng Ning and Michael come to know each other better, their characters change fairly significantly and in ways that make them seem to be completely removed from who they were at the beginning of the book. Although Meng Ning's decision whether to marry Michael or to turn her back on family and the material world is a serious one, her constant waffling makes for tough reading. And the plot is completely anachronistic when she travels to New York and meets Michael's "friends." Certainly, Yip has done a reasonable job portraying a woman who has been hovering without making a decision for more than 10 years but there was just something a little off-putting here. The descriptions of the Buddhist life, its necessary intersections with the outside, material world, and the culture clash that is inevitable in a cross-cultural relationship are all interesting but they just can't quite carry the novel.

Thanks to LibraryThing Early Reviewers for sending me a copy of the book to review.


  1. Sorry you were disappointed by this one. I was all excited because the title just grabbed me, but I think I'll pass on it.


  2. I really like the title of this one and have great things about this author, but it doesn't sound like this is the book for me. Thanks for the review.

  3. The title and cover really piqued my interest; it's a shame it didn't work for you. Thanks for the honest review.


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