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Love and Other Consolation Prizes is a well-written and heartbreaking novel. It is also based on a true story. The author brings the reader deep into the heart and mind of Ernest Young, as a young boy in China, and then, again, as a young man, in America, and lastly, as a wise senior, humbled by life, but content in his soul.
Ernest was only five-years-old when his mother left him standing alone in a cold cemetery. He was told to wait for a man who would be coming for him. He was being sent to America. Ernest missed his mother and yearned for her touch, even after watching her do an unthinkable act. The months that he spent in the cold bowels of a ship, starving and frightened, were some of the most painful memories for Ernest.
A raffle that took place at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, in Seattle, when Ernest was twelve-years-old, shocked him, because, Ernest discovered, much to his dismay, and embarrassment, that he was the raffled-off prize. The winner was a Madam of a high-class brothel, the Tenderloin. It was, there, at the Tenderloin, where Ernest, would learn about love, be accepted as a young man and be changed forever. Maise and Fahn would become his closest companions and shape his future.
When Ernest was in his sixties, one of his daughters, a journalist by profession asked to write his story. He was reluctant, though, because his daughters knew very little about his childhood. They also didn’t know about their mother’s sordid past, but those secrets were not his to tell. His daughter, however, was persistent, so Ernest began to relive for her, the poignant tale of his youth.
Love and Other Consolation Prizes is a fascinating and compelling read. The story is well-crafted, rich in detail, raw emotion, and realistic dialogue. The characters are fully developed and likable. Love and Other Consolation Prizes stayed with me long after I’d turned the last page.
Thank you, Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine and NetGalley, for my advanced review copy.
~4 out of 5 stars~ Review by Peg Glover