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Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite
Set against the backdrop of a Singapore barely recovered from the throes of World War II, Under the Pong Pong Tree by Hal Levey is a riveting story of a young woman dealing with the repercussions of the war. As if losing her entire family was not enough, Li Lian Goh, a young and beautiful Chinese woman, is forced to work in a military brothel where she gets impregnated by a Japanese military officer. Two options lie before her – despair or escape into a new form of life. But what she does will surprise readers. This is a story of bravery, love, loss, and redemption, a tale that explores the essence of humanity when the house is broken and everything seems to fall apart.
Levey has created a realistic story laced with historical facts, a tale that offers a glimpse of the horrors of World War II and a courageous woman who refuses to be broken by the cruelty of war. While the story unveils the evils of the war, it offers hope in a powerful love story when an American soldier is introduced into the plot. Levey’s prose is beautiful and the overall writing is uniquely appealing. The author skillfully uses subplots to enrich the main story, featuring a vast cast of compelling characters with whom readers can easily sympathize. Without sacrificing the main plot line, the author crafts a compelling tale that comes across as a powerful social commentary highlighting the general atmosphere after the war. An intelligently accomplished story that will make readers feel as though they were reliving history in the lives of its characters, Under the Pong Pong Tree is insanely fascinating and entertaining in a dangerous sort of way.