Book Eleven of 2014: THE DANCE OF THE SPIRITS by Catherine Aerie

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..”.fleeting but intense…An often engaging tale of a flickering moment of love during a forgotten war.” –Kirkus Reviews Spring 1951: it is the fiery zenith of the Korean War, a war that the youthful US Army lieutenant Wesley Palm and his men thought that they had won… until the Chinese swept across the Yalu River. Traveling with the million-man army bent on driving back the march of “American imperialism” is Jasmine Young, a Chinese surgeon who has volunteered herself into the war for unspoken, grave reasons. Through a chronicle of merciless battles, freezing winters, and the brutality and hypocrisy of human nature, the two will find themselves weaving through the twists and turns of fate and destiny. Though their love is forbidden, their passion and pursuit of liberty cannot be quenched.

For the first quarter of the book, I was unsure how I felt about it. I wasn’t connecting with the characters and the writing seemed difficult for me to get into. It wasn’t until after that quarter that the book was really starting to get good. The book blurb says that it’s about a love in the midst of a war, and that is seen there, but the love is very limited. I honestly didn’t feel a connection to the hero and heroine’s relationship. Instead, I felt a connection with the heroine.

I honestly think the blurb is a bit misleading. The book itself isn’t about a romance, it is about one woman’s journey from a pampered life to a life where she had to learn to survive. The book is centered on the Communist party and ideologies. There is a constant reminder of this part in the way the American POWs are treated, how Jasmine is treated, and for the fact that the reader gets a mini history lesson in the second quarter (which really seemed out of place).

I found myself cheering on Wes in the POW camp and feeling ache with a certain part of Jasmine’s story arch (I’d tell you, but that is an important part of the story). I would have liked the book more if there was more about Wes’ background or less of the history lesson.

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