A wonderful blend of past and present, Ursula, Under by Ingrid Hill is part fable, part rescue story. Itís the story of little Ursula Wong, a half-Finnish, half-Chinese three-year-old who accidentally falls down an abandoned mine. Her parents, Annie Maki-Wong and Justin Wong, are nearly out of their minds with grief and worry as the rescue teams start pouring in. But before we find out what happens to little Ursula, we first explore exactly how Ursula Wong came to be, going back to her Chinese ancestor Qin Lao hundreds of years ago.
Alternating between past and present, Ursula, Under explores both Ursulaís Finnish and Chinese ancestors and also explores the pasts of Annie, Justin and a host of other characters who have shaped the life of little Ursula Wong, trapped in the mine. With stories of concubines, royalty, hard-working immigrants and orphans blending seamlessly with modern-day stories, the book gives an interesting and absorbing look at a family tree and illuminates just how much history each person carries around with them on a daily basis.
Whether she is writing about ancient Chinese alchemists or about the drunk woman who hit Annie with her car when she was a young girl, Ingrid Hill knows how to tell a story. Her writing is detailed, beautiful and always interesting. Though it does take a few pages to get into each of the stories from the past, the richly detailed histories are well-written and the characters easy to relate to. Though I enjoyed the modern day parts of the book more than the past, the blend of them together is what makes this book so special.
My only complaint with this book is that I would have liked more story about Annie and Justinís early life together and a little more information about Justinís motherís relationship with his father. However, at 476 pages, I understand why the book needed to skip over a few details, or it would have been even longer.
Whether you like modern day family stories or historical novels, youíll find something to love in Ursula, Under. Recommended to anyone who likes interesting, in-depth novels about the power of the past.