February 26th 2022
France, 1954: JJ boards the ocean liner Cambodge towards Hong Kong and Shanghai, bound to a light-hearted promise he made his dying calligraphy teacher. On board he meets Fred, who adds lightness to the voyage. JJ longs for connection and yields to Fred’s pleas to explore Hong Kong together. But when JJ and Fred miss their ship to Shanghai, JJ’s fear of repeating the past spurs him to agree to a shady art deal to keep his promise and his new friend. The journey turns into a law-breaking odyssey, which will cast a new and unexpected light on JJ’s past and shape his future.
If you are intrigued by East Asia, enjoy a fast-paced plot and unexpected twists, you will love this book!
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A different place, in a different time, in a world so far from our every day life… “Returning East” has all the ingredients of the journey literature, with a modern touch. JJ will be your companion in this adventure that leads both to the discovery of the China in the Fifties and to his self awereness. You will just love him and feel like you have to add his name to the group of your best friends!
This is one of those books that captured my imagination right from the first line!. The author has cleverly revealed JJ’s interesting character as I go deeper into the story, and with how the author describes the surrounding environments… It’s almost like watching a well-directed cinema. If you love traveling especially to those exotic places in the East, this book is certainly worth reading!
A captivating and worthwhile book: There are so many ways to tell a story. I don’t have to choose the worst one”. A powerful thought for a central character at the end of a book, adding a positive twist to the perception of one’s own dramatic experiences. And the author Lauca has definitely found a good way to tell the story of her protagonist JJ. Returning East literally takes us on a voyage to the scenery of Southeast Asia in the beginning of the 1950ies, with stopovers in colonial Indochina, the multinational populated Hong Kong, and eventually the coast of the still young People’s Republic of China, always letting a breeze of cosmopolitan sea air stream through the pages. But the journey is likewise also a wavering Coming-Of-Age narrative of two sympathetic, adolescent men whose developing relationship fueled by ambitions, longings and insecurities is a welcome invitation for the reader to resonate with. Especially the main character JJ is drawn carefully. For the kind and vulnerable man, the road trip is primarily a dive into his own soul and his personal past. During the journey a couple of different sides and conflicting emotions surface, all ultimately leading JJ to a single, more than challenging question: What kind of man do I want to be? The narration’s perspective switches from character to character repeatedly, which at the same time carries the storyline and in combination with the changing locations of the action provides for variety. Returning East is an exciting adventure novel touching deep human issues – a story about pain, loss and the perpetual search for friendship and appreciation. At any time captivating and worth reading.
I really enjoyed the journey to an exotic, forgotten world and grew very fond of JJ who’s trying to come to terms with his past to finally embrace his future. To witness such a troubled mind constantly blaming everybody and everything else for an unfortunate life grow up was very touching. Sometimes we have to travel far to finally come home, and JJ hopefully will.
Unexpected and original!: Definitely worth reading, yet it came as unexpected. I was reading a top 10 best seller when I started this, but I dropped the previous book to go along with Returning East.There I found an original plot, realistic characters (I loved JJ!), twists and turns and an unexpected ending, almost psychological, which I found very moving. It is really a journey in a lot of meanings.The exotic scenery is a plus – and Lauca has some hints of good sense of humour! Yet, there are a few things as unresolved.. a part two maybe?
(Kindle client, Italy)
A page turner: Part travel adventure, part coming-of-age story, part period piece which drops you right into China/Hong Kong in the 1950s. In telling the story of two young European men who fall in over their heads on a trip to the East, the author paints a vivid picture of what “globalization” looked like before everyone called it that. The characters they meet on the way are both believable as well as representative of their time and place. I found this element of the story fascinating – one can really imagine the world in which this novel takes place, as well as the people who made up that world. The story overlaps nicely between two protagonists who are each ‘growing up’ in their own way as their journey unfolds. And even when you think you have it all figured out, the ending is far from anticipated. Highly recommend!
(Matt B., Germany)
Travel through Time and Continents…: How do you travel through time, culture, language and continents? Read “Returning East” from Lauca! You don’t need a passport or vaccinations or money, just a couple of hours of spare time, and you went from West to East, travelling on trains, ships, smuggling, through war, and many adventures. Worth the time!
Captivating!: I’ve always been attracted to east Asia, so I bought the book for the title and the topic, at first. I’m glad I did for a lot of other reasons, though, because it turned out to be not only a window into a beloved area of the world, but also a well-built, fast moving novel with unpredictable twists, that nevertheless took the time to travel deep into the characters’ emotions. It made want to go back to China again.
(Kindle customer, US)