The First Excellence: Fa-ling’s Map
By Donna Carrick
Paperback: 374 pages
Publisher: BookSurge Publishing (September 26, 2009)
E-publisher: Carrick Publishing
The First Excellence is a tapestry of story lines. There are three main plots: A young woman journeys to China, the land of her birth, on a personal quest. She travels with a group of adoptive couples, who are going to meet their new children. A murder in the hotel leads several characters into the world of Falun Gong, political manoeuvring and the underworld. But that is just the surface. The author nimbly weaves in several sub-plots, creating a many-layered tale. The resulting book is hard to put down.
Carrick’s own experience of going to China to meet her adopted daughter shines through the rich descriptions: The couples’ anticipation and worries, their feelings as they negotiate the inevitable bureaucratic red-tape, and their wonder, when they are finally united with the babies.
Carrick’s talent for voice and character development is evident; by the end of the story I felt as if I had been travelling with the adoptive couples myself. I was beside Fa-Ling as she looked down from the airplane window at the city of Nanning at night, and again when she pondered the changes occurring in preparation for the Beijing Olympics.
The author also delivers a murder mystery with compelling twists and turns, that link right into the stories of the adoptive group and Fa-Ling’s personal quest for both her past and her future. All the details are proof that the author has done her cultural research well.
The tale ends with a wonderful twist that ties everything up, yet leaves the reader with a slight pang of what could have been. I am looking forward to a sequel.
Visit Carrick Publishing for more information on this and other books by Donna Carrick, as well as links to purchase the book in various print and e-formats.