Thursday, 25 June 2015

Year of Fire Dragons: An American Woman's Story of Coming of Age in Hong Kong by Shannon Young

Title: Year of Fire Dragons: An American Woman's Story of Coming of Age in Hong Kong
Author: Shannon Young
Publication: Blacksmith Books (15 Jun. 2015)  
Summary: In 2010, bookish 22-year-old Shannon follows her Eurasian boyfriend to Hong Kong, eager to forge a new love story in his hometown. But when work sends him to London a month later, Shannon embarks on a wide-eyed newcomer's journey through Hong Kong – alone.

She teaches in a local school as the only foreigner, explores Asia with other young expats and discovers family history in Hong Kong, all while trying to hold on to her thwarted romance. The city enchants her, forcing her to question her plans. Soon, she must make a choice between her new life and the love that first brought her to Asia.

What I Think

Living in Hong Kong I have a particular interest in reading books set in this little pocket of Asia and it's an extra special treat to read a book that reminds me what a vibrant and exciting city this is. Hong Kong is multifaceted and each morning Shannon Young leaves "behind one world and enter[s] an entirely different, more Chinese one." 

"The time was right for an international long distance relationship," writes Young about her relationship with Ben, managing to stay in daily contact via Skype, phone, email and instant messaging. This is in stark contrast to the annual letters Young's grandmother sent back to the U.S. She had also moved abroad to teach, met her husband, got married and started a family. In the 1950s they were stationed in Hong Kong. Including fragments of these letters evokes not only the feeling of a different world, but draws comparisons with the physical changes in Hong Kong. 

Living abroad isn't always easy. "Friendship is fast, cheap, and interchangeable in the expat world." Young's writing is full of such insights as she delves further into the Chinese culture, language, her teaching position as the only Native English Teacher and whether she wants to stay in Hong Kong without Ben, or move to yet another foreign place to be with him.  

Shannon Young's writing is as full of life as this city and I would highly recommend this to anyone interested in travel, living abroad, teaching or a good old-fashioned love story. 

About the Author

Shannon Young is an American writer currently living in Hong Kong. She is the author of a coming of age travel memoir called Year of Fire Dragons (Blacksmith Books) and a Kindle Single on student debt. She has edited an anthology of creative non-fiction by expat women in Asia and written e-books including a mini travel memoir, The Olympics Beat, and a novella, The Art of Escalator Jumping.

A graduate of Colgate University in New York, Shannon's writing has appeared in the Hong Kong Women in Publishing Society's anthology, on numerous websites, and on an iPhone travel app. She writes a blog called A Kindle in Hong Kong and likes to spy on other people's books on the train.

You can follow Shannon's work and join her email list at the following sites:

Twitter: @ShannonYoungHK

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