#BookReview The Storm We Made by Vanessa Chan @vanjchan @SimonSchusterCA #VanessaChan #TheStormWeMade #SimonSchusterCA Title: The Storm We Made

Author: Vanessa Chan

Published by: Marysue Rucci Books on Jan. 2, 2024

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 352

Format: ARC, Paperback

Source: Simon & Schuster Canada

Book Rating: 9/10

A spellbinding, sweeping novel about a Malayan mother who becomes an unlikely spy for the invading Japanese forces during WWII—and the shocking consequences that rain upon her community and family.

Malaya, 1945. Cecily Alcantara’s family is in terrible danger: her fifteen-year-old son, Abel, has disappeared, and her youngest daughter, Jasmin, is confined in a basement to prevent being pressed into service at the comfort stations. Her eldest daughter Jujube, who works at a tea house frequented by drunk Japanese soldiers, becomes angrier by the day.

Cecily knows two things: that this is all her fault; and that her family must never learn the truth.

A decade prior, Cecily had been desperate to be more than a housewife to a low-level bureaucrat in British-colonized Malaya. A chance meeting with the charismatic General Fuijwara lured her into a life of espionage, pursuing dreams of an “Asia for Asians.” Instead, Cecily helped usher in an even more brutal occupation by the Japanese. Ten years later as the war reaches its apex, her actions have caught up with her. Now her family is on the brink of destruction—and she will do anything to save them.

Spanning years of pain and triumph, told from the perspectives of four unforgettable characters, The Storm We Made is a dazzling saga about the horrors of war; the fraught relationships between the colonized and their oppressors, and the ambiguity of right and wrong when survival is at stake.


Absorbing, harrowing, and impactful!

The Storm We Made is a poignant, immersive tale set in British-occupied Malaya that takes you into the lives of the Alcantara family, especially the matriarch, Cecily, a middle-aged mother suffering from extreme guilt over the decisions she made ten years ago, and her three children, Jujube, Abel, and Jasmin whose lives are irrevocably changed forever when their homeland is invaded and occupied by the Japanese during WWII.

The prose is eloquent and expressive. The characters are brave, tormented, and determined. And the plot is an exceptionally touching tale about life, loss, family, secrets, separation, desperation, infidelity, tragedy, and the horrors of war.

Overall, The Storm We Made is a gritty, emotional, beautifully written tale by Chan inspired by real-life familial events that reminds us that survival of any kind often involves heartbreaking choices, moral dilemmas, action, spirit, extreme loss, and beyond all else, unimaginable sacrifice and courage.


This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.




Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.


About Vanessa Chan

Vanessa Chan Author Photo

Vanessa Chan was born and raised in Malaysia. Her short stories have been published in Electric Lit, Kenyon Review, Ecotone, and more. She was the 2021 Stanley Elkin scholar at the Sewanee Writers Conference and has also received scholar awards to attend the Bread Loaf and Tin House writers’ conferences. The Storm We Made is her first novel.

Photograph by Mary Inhea Kang.

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