“Read it. Love it. – then do it.”

Published 17 Feb 2017

The Eighth Promise shall conceivably be just one of those inspirational autobiography books that one bookworm shall ever bump into a bookstore. With its conventionality of design and synopsis of the whole gist of the entity, it may not be quite that of which is exotic in the views of the contemporary society, given the fact that the reading masses of the 21st Century dwell on those which cater the amorous adventures of liberalism, or if not, the world of Harry Potter and all the other fiction-based tomes.

However, in the light of William Poy Lee, he emerges the society into a whole new dimension of reading, by taking the readers back to the era where the Japanese threat pressured the Chinese community onto fleeing their community at their own risk (Chang), thus such coercion leading them to a brighter view of life, love and compassion for family (Lee).

About the author

William Poy Lee, although having had grown in the civilization of the upbeat, stresses the standpoint that the Chinese spirit, though savaged in morality and shifted in scale of place, is but a unified group wherein the teachings of their ancestors as well as the customs and traditions instilled to them by their parents are never forgotten and thus, are even embraced for the fullest of their sanity (Lee).
Moreover, the development of his career and the satisfaction his profession have had offered him did not hamper his sense of passion towards the love pampered by his mother and thus even gave tribute to such bereft. Consequently, it can be taken to assumption that his endearing amazement towards his mother and all the wisdom she has infused in his being brought up the production of his grandeur in prose and traditionalism (Lee).

William’s mother and the wonders surrounding her

The key person of the book, the main actress, William’s mother in the name of Poy Chan Lee, considered as one of the brave and intellectual Toisanese ever to have resided in Chinatown San Francisco, is the legend of the prevailing Toisan philosophy of powerful women (Lee). Her ideals which she had gained from her mother, which had been specifically stressed in Chapter 2 of the book, paved a ticket onto raising her offspring in the most delicate and finest way her prudence has ever offered her (Lee).

Further, living in a peasant town, where all the citizens, including children had to sow for a living, molded her into the kind of person who she is today and thus even crafted her outstanding ability to create an overwhelming compassion towards family and children as well as offering importance not only to those possessing the substance of their blood, but also to those who happen to be a part of their distant empathy. The kind of person William Poy Lee exhibits nowadays is a manifestation of his mother’s means of heaving their kind towards the betterment of their individuality as a person, as a Toisan, and as a member of the diverse community.

Toisan Promises: Poy Chan Lee’s share of wisdom

Perceivably, the Toisan community is not like all the other groups or race which seemingly surface in the scheme of Western civilization. For the aforementioned tribe, they considered their way of living as that which is different from the latter. The fact that they were obliged to work for their family’s sake, and to flee their vicinity for their own safety is indeed a whirlwind which is most likely to strike in the serenity of a certain place (Lee). In further illustration of the Toisans, their sagacity towards the fact that every being of their kind must be a role model of morality and of tradition caters a larger scope of responsibility (Lee), as stated in almost three chapters of William’s book.

Consequently, the main subject of the book, as to how it flowed on the title, The Eighth Promise was the most important and proficient array of teaching a reader shall tend to sought (Lee). In due benevolence and credit to such teachings, the following were the lines uttered by the author’s grand mother as shared by his mother: to raise their children in the Toisan way with the regard of language, custom and tradition so as to relive the spirit of their tribe; second, to find a suitable American Chinese to secure the future of her siblings; to be an American Citizen so as to contain an efficient way of migrating her siblings to San Francisco; to raise the Chinese community in the western jurisdiction; to communicate consistently with their family through sending letters and pictures for recognition purposes; to seek their race and relive their sense of nationality; to keep the Toisan tradition in health arena; and finally, to live life in a compassionate echelon of intellect and morality and instill the same teachings to the next generation for the betterment of their people and self-infliction, at that.


With the level of regard on the message conveyed by the book, such offered evidence that the book catering the essence of nationality and morality is considerably a breakthrough on to the verge of understanding the importance of mothers’ advices (Lo). Perhaps, any individual’s perception and approach towards a certain idea may differ in one sort or another, but through the help this Chinese-inspired inspirational book, it unfolds the mystery of inculcating the Toisan concepts as a tool in reaching out the intrinsic and extrinsic demands of globalization and the need for individuals to interact with other people, regardless of race, language or belief (Ebrey).
Furthermore, it serves as a vanguard in uplifting the virtue of friendship, family, joy and love crossing beyond the walls of pride and inevitable catastrophically stringed events, and overcoming such, by embracing the worth of promises (Lee).


  • Bary, Wm. Theodore de, and Richard Lufrano. Sources of Chinese Tradition. 2 ed: Columbia University Press, 2001.
  • Chang, Iris. The Chinese in America: A Narrative History. Penguin (Non-Classics) 2004.
  • Ebrey, Patricia Buckley. Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook. 2nd Rev Exp ed. New York: Free Press, 1993.
  • Lee, William Poy. The Eighth Promise: An American Son’s Tribute to His Toisanese China-Born Mother. California: Rodale Press, Incorporated, 2007.
  • Lo, Eileen Yin-Fei. My Grandmother’s Chinese Kitchen: 100 Family Recipes and Life Lessons. HP Trade, 2006.
  • Nakanishi, D. The Asian American Educational Experience: A Sourcebook for Teachers and Students 1ed. New York: Routledge, 1994.
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