When I was younger, I loved Grace Lin’s books. One of my favorites was Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, which is a companion to When the Sea Turned to Silver. So, I was delighted to discover that Lin hasn’t lost her creative touch at all!
The idea of a girl going on an adventure to save an elderly relative is an old one — not that it isn’t full of potential. What really makes this book stand out is the fantastic incorporation of Chinese folktales. In many of the chapters, either Pinmei or her grandmother tells an engrossing folktale in an easy, flowing manner that makes readers feel like they are comfortably listening around a campfire. The stories are not just pretty words to expand the page count; rather, the characters and objects featured in the stories eventually become critical to Pinmei and Yishan’s journey. It’s refreshing to read about Chinese myths when most of the ancient cultures that schools and books focus on are from Greece, Rome, Egypt, or most recently, Norway (Percy Jackson author Rick Riordan’s new Magnus Chase series).
The main cast of characters is wonderful. Pinmei is a great main character—emotional, driven, clever, and sufficiently flawed to be realistic. Her extreme shyness is a significant challenge to overcome. Kids who wish they could speak up more will find comfort in her achievements by the end of the novel. Her friend, Yishan, is a loyal and brave companion whose secret provides a surprising twist to the plot. Amah is the kind of lovable grandmother that everyone would want to have.
Additionally, readers who have not yet enjoyed the two companion novels Where the Mountain Meets the Moon or Starry River of the Sky need not worry. I haven’t picked up a Lin book in years, and I still understood the plot and setting.
Lin’s When the Sea Turned to Silver sets readers on a sweeping mystical journey that is not to be missed.