Rachel the grandmother, Elsa the daughter, and Crystal the granddaughter are three generations of extraordinary, but significantly diverse women. Individual differences must be put aside when tragedy strikes and the communists invade China, the action element in The Jade Bracelet by Wilma Wall. Elsa finds herself angered by her mother’s dominance while always having felt out of place as an American born in China to missionary parents. Only after her daughter Crystal is born can the pain and misunderstanding from past to present be bridged and ultimately healed.
Wall’s story begins with a 1980s prologue and shifts back to China’s communist days in the 1930s and forward again to present day. Experiences from Elsa’s childhood provide the necessary background for China’s history during the 1930s. Life as a missionary child and the bonds between family, country, and the unbelievers are clearly communicated and felt. The similarities between Rachel, Elsa, and Crystal are staggering – although they at first don’t seem to notice their similar hearts, only that which divides them. Their compassion, pain, anger, jealousy, and search for something beyond each other is heartfelt, as it shows the feminine love/hate connection between women scattered across generations.
When Rachel, Elsa, and Crystal are brought together, each receives and learns the puzzle-piece history about their lives and why they act and feel as they do today. Elsa is still resentful of her mother Rachel, who never seemed to understand her need for love and acceptance. Rachel finds herself eager to return to the life she remembers in America before becoming a missionary in China. Despite her desire to return, that dream is shaken by the death of her husband. Instead of turning to her daughter for understanding, the walls between mother and daughter become even higher and thicker. When Elsa marries against Rachel’s caution, Crystal is born and slowly begins to connect the severance between the two most important women in her life.
This is a heartfelt novel that interweaves China’s communist-known history with the love one family has for serving and ultimately knowing God and each other. Only when Rachel forgives herself and others, Elsa practices understanding, and Crystal receives the love she deserves does resolution come for the three generations.
This book is highly recommended for women and late teen girls desiring to understand the powerful bonds God created among females. Believable and especially didactic, Wall’s research also played a significantly positive foundation for China’s time period and customs not commonly known by American readers. Ultimately, each character practices understanding and true forgiveness. – Kate E. Schmelzer, Christian Book Previews.com
A heartfelt story of three women, bound together by family ties, yet torn apart by conflicts and differences. Elsa—lively, willful, and resentful of her mother's domination—struggles for acceptance on her own terms. Born in China, yet not Chinese; American, but foreign to America, she is torn by opposite cultures. Rachel, Elsa's stern mother, is a reluctant missionary and turns to Crystal, Elsa's daughter, for solace. Will a trip back to China and a long-lost jade bracelet bring reconciliation for the three women?