When the Music Never Really Left You {Book Club}

Today we finish The Scavenger’s Daughters (Tales of the Scavenger’s Daughters) by Kay Bratt.

Ah, the feeling of completing a book and having answers—at least somewhat—to questions raised. We now know that Jet is actually a good guy. I have to say, when Linnea wonders in chapter 20 what Jet sees in her, I wrote in my notes “So do we, Linnea.” Not that we wonder what he sees in her, but if it really can work out.

However, Benfu flat out asked in chapter 21 if Jet saw Linnea as a plaything to be discarded. I believed him that he doesn’t. However, they are from such different worlds. I’m still left wondering if it can really work.

At the beginning of our reading, Benfu and Linnea frantically looked for Jasmine until Benfu fainted and was rushed to the hospital by Jet. In terms of me buying into the way Jet was reintroduced, I bought it. In a moment of crisis, if a cell phone is thrust into my hands, any more I have few numbers memorized. So, it is likely that I would dial whomever I could recall and let the chips fall where they may.

Later, as Jet and Linnea went to the park in search of Jasmine, this quote stood out to me:

“Linnea sigh. She’s always found that people from the other side of town who had no experiences with abandonment or poverty also had no sense of reality for what desperate people could and would do. It wasn’t his [Jet’s] fault; it was just the bubble that the rich lived in.”

I think it stood out because as much as I try to understand and empathize with those who have abandonment and poverty as their story, the truth is I am more like Jet. I probably don’t really get it and say things that sound foolish to those who are natives to poverty and abandonment.

Benfu ends up hospitalized much longer than the first time and Jet comes over in the evenings to help Linnea care for the girls. During this time Linnea is invited to his home for dinner.

Understandably she is nervous and reluctant.

Once I found out that Jet’s family’s apartment is the only one on that floor of the building, I have to admit I became more skeptical of the gap between them. He is not just rich. He is stinking rich. Rich, rich, rich. I might feel out of my league entering such a luxurious apartment, let alone the scavenger’s daughter.

I did have to laugh at this part:

“So what was your favorite dish, Linnea?” [Jet] asked.

“Though she was happy for a diversion, Linnea could have strangled him for asking that—as she didn’t know which one would be the most proper to compliment.  Everything in China was based on tradition, but unfortunately she was severely lacking in remembering most of the lessons her Nai Nai and Ye Ye had tried to teach her about the many symbolisms of each dish.”

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Where we know a right answer exists, but we just don’t know what it is. Ah, and time stops!

We learn that Jet’s dad had heard of her Ye Ye and admires him quite a lot (the sarcastic side of me wanted to know “Why then have you never visited him?!”). And it disturbed me to be reminded of the gap between the haves and the have nots when it comes to the right to an education or medical care.

And then Benfu is ready to be discharged. Times of crisis can bring reflection. He asked what we all wonder:

“Calli, I need to ask you something.”
“What Benfu? You’re scaring me.”
“You would tell me, would you, if I haven’t been enough?” He searched her eyes.
“Enough what?” She shook her head in confusion.
“Just”—he paused—”enough.”

Thankfully she reassured him, as will your Heavenly Father comfort and reassure you. You are and have been enough in your calling.

While the party at the Zheng house might have been a bit of a tidy ending for the book, what I loved is that the family didn’t wait to gather at Benfu’s funeral. Instead, they let him know how very much he meant to them.

Benfu had one final insight: “He realized that his pride and aversion to dealing with the government had made life much harder, and he wished he’d come to Gong earlier to ask his help.” This is a good final word for us. Is your pride making your life harder?

Thank you Hadassah for recommending this book to us!

Let’s talk in the comments. Am I off my rocker when it comes to Jet and Lin? What other quotes or thoughts stood out to you?

See you in the comments,


P.S. Next week Kimberlee Conway Ireton will be here sharing about Ordinary Time in the Church calendar. Our August book is A Man Called Ove, you do not want to miss it!


  1. Kristi July 26, 2017

    Thank you, Amy, for sharing your reflections. I really liked the way that the book ended – I agree with you that it was wonderful to see all of Benfu’s family and friends gathering to celebrate him while we was alive rather than waiting for his funeral. Although I admit it I was a bit skeptical, as it seemed a little unrealistic to me. But not much – I think a significant health crisis like Benfu had can be a soul-searching wake up call to onesself and also to the people around that person.

    And I am glad to see that Jet seems to have good intentions towards Linnea, and is willing to talk to Benfu and also to help his parents to appreciate Linnea. Amy, you highlighted some of the good cultural insights/disparities highlighted in the book between Linnea and Jet. I was struck also by Linnea’s thought while searching for Jasmine that sometimes people without experience of abondonment did not understand the reality/desperation of people in those situations. So true! We are living in South Sudan, and it is hard for me to wrap my minds around the war, the fleeing, the death, the refugee camps, the conflict that so many people here have lived through. But trying to be present with them and hear their stories is a first step–just like Jet did with Linnea.

    Thanks! I was really drawn in by the book, and am intrigued to perhaps read another in the series.

  2. Hadassah Doss July 26, 2017

    I’m glad you liked it, Amy! I couldn’t stop with just book 1. I read the next two almost immediately, and I have the two that are left on my reading list. I appreciate how the author continues the storylines, some that she hadn’t developed much, in her other books. I’m also happy that your insights highlighted some of the culture you experienced in China and how it relates to the story. Not having lived there or even visited, I had to take a lot of what was being shared at face value. My biggest question was whether girls are still so under appreciated. I know where I lived boys were much more valued than girls, as seen in our school demographics (80 boys:20 girls). I love how Benfu empowers his daughters!

  3. sarah July 30, 2017

    Hey Hadassah, yep, boys are much more highly valued than girls in China. The government has been trying pretty hard for the last couple decades to overcome that thinking bc the country is facing many problems due to the gender imbalance.
    Sometimes I would see big billboards saying things like, “Daughters are good, too!” And many of my female students would confide in me that their name was actually normally a boy’s name but their parents had named them that anyway bc they had really wanted a boy.
    Those are the easy ones to talk about, without getting into female infanticide and all that.

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