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1. The Heavenly Man: The Remarkable
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2. Falling Leaves : The Memoir of
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3. Chinese Cinderella : The True
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4. Opposite of Fate, The : Memories
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5. Daughter of Heaven : A Memoir
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7. The Waiting Child: How the Faith
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20. Gang of One: Memoirs of a Red

1. The Heavenly Man: The Remarkable True Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun
by Paul Hattaway
list price: $13.99
our price: $10.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 082546207X
Catlog: Book (2003-02-01)
Publisher: Monarch
Sales Rank: 1483
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars This will challenge your socks off
After reading this book, I'm convinced that most professing Christians in America have no clue what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. This book is about Yun who was nicknamed "The Heavenly Man". Yun was a church leader, planter and missionary in China. He faced much persecution because he refused to compromise. He could have avoided the persecution, separation from his family and imprisonment by just being quiet about his faith. But he choose to obey, and he suffered greatly. I was challenged and convicted of my fear of man. This book has been one of the most life changing books I have ever read. Buy It!

5-0 out of 5 stars THE SPIRITUAL POWER OF 'THE CRUCIFIED LIFE' .....
I wish I could give this book six or seven stars. There
are a few truly rare books out there that can genuinely
change your life for the better: this is definitely one
of those books.
You will be amazed to read the fascinating and heartrending
testimony of bro.Yun, a leader in the Chinese underground
church, and how his "faith of abandonment to GOD" leads
him into astounding testings and overcoming power to
testify of the faithfulness and supernatural power of
Christ in daily life: a life that seeks nothing but the
glory of God and the salvation of others as a true servant
in the Kingdom of Christ and His Church.
Just to read the triumphs and tragedies of chapters 11 and
12 alone is more than worth the price of this book. It's a
modern-day classic that will, perhaps, challenge your faith
and your life as no other book you may ever read.
I know now beyond any shadow of doubt that most Christians
in the Western and developed world are virtually spiritual
pygmies compared to our brethren suffering under persecution
and rising to the task of giving testimony to The Gospel with
their very lives and their all for Christ, and Christ alone.
~ This is what genuine, - from the heart CHRISTianity is
all about. The book is a rare treasure. don't miss it, OR
the Message.

5-0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ!!!
The reviews speak for themselves! This book is a must for all believers!! It is encouraging and convicting. Brother Yun is a vessel willing to be used.. you will be encouraged to do the same!

5-0 out of 5 stars God using people, People Used by God!!!
Reading this book will change your life forever. If you want to strenghen you faith in God or find out about Chinese Church Persecution this is the book for you. After you read the book you won't feel God just wants you to go on with life, but that he wants to use you in ways you've never thought possible.To devote your whole life to him and want to give everything that you have to him, So that HE CAN USE YOU!!!This book will Bless you.

God Bless

5-0 out of 5 stars The best Christian book I have ever read
This book is what true apostolic Christianity is like. It is a guide book for anyone who is desirous of authentic New Testament faith walked out in today's modern world. It will radically challenge your paradigm of what Christianity really is about. ... Read more


2. Falling Leaves : The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter
by ADELINE YEN MAH
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0767903579
Catlog: Book (1999-04-06)
Publisher: Broadway
Sales Rank: 21048
Average Customer Review: 4.09 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Born in 1937 in a port city a thousand miles north of Shanghai, Adeline Yen Mah was the youngest child of an affluent Chinese family who enjoyed rare privileges during a time of political and cultural upheaval. But wealth and position could not shield Adeline from a childhood of appalling emotional abuse at the hands of a cruel and manipulative Eurasian stepmother. Determined to survive through her enduring faith in family unity, Adeline struggled for independence as she moved from Hong Kong to England and eventually to the United States to become a physician and writer.

A compelling, painful, and ultimately triumphant story of a girl's journey into adulthood, Adeline's story is a testament to the most basic of human needs: acceptance, love, and understanding. With a powerful voice that speaks of the harsh realities of growing up female in a family and society that kept girls in emotional chains, Falling Leaves is a work of heartfelt intimacy and a rare authentic portrait of twentieth-century China. ... Read more

Reviews (286)

5-0 out of 5 stars Falling Leaves: Book Review
Adeline Yen Mah begins her autobiography with the events leading up to her life that would eventually have an effect on either herself or her family. She painted a vivid picture as to the historical background of China, before beginning the story of her life. The events preceding Communism, which she depicted, helped one to gain a greater understanding of her life story and the effects of Communism on the Chinese. From here Adeline went on to explain her life story.

Being the youngest child, a girl, and having her mother die when she was born basically made Adeline an outcast and unwanted child to her father and her step-mom, Niang. Despite the oppression she faced from her family, Adeline became a physician in America. The heart-wrenching autobiography, Falling Leaves, evoked more emotions from me than any other book I have read in my life.

Adeline's stories were described with such emotion that would make one sympathize with her situation. For example, in one scene Adeline had been elected class president, in order to celebrate her feat her friends secretly followed her home. The family maid admitted Adeline's peers into her home. The party ended abruptly when Niang summoned Adeline to her room and began to demand Adeline to admit that she had invited her classmates over so they could see their fancy home. Adeline was being falsely accused and refused to admit to these accusations. Niang, in response, began to slap Adeline, until her nose began to bleed. The whole book overflows with emotion, however although a large portion of the emotions are focused on Niang's malevolence the feelings are not of hatred and vengeance, but rather of worry about what she can do better to please Niang. Adeline is a respectable person who could be considered a role model, because no matter how much hate and inequality was turned loose on her she would always be forgiving and strive even harder to please people. Her forgiving attitude reminded me of a young girl, Anne Frank, who also faced oppression throughout her childhood, as she stated, "It's a wonder I haven't abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet, I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart." Adeline seemed to live by this quote. Upon reading her autobiography the reader can learn a great deal about life and one's attitude towards the world.

4-0 out of 5 stars _FALLEN LEAVES: THE MEMOIR OF AN UNWANTED CHINESE DAUGHTER_
Adeline Yen Mah's, _Fallen Leaves: _The Memoirs of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter_... is an incredible story. _Fallen Leaves_, would be a perfect book for adults who are very interested in the Chinese culture. However, teenagers with an interest in different cultures would also be able to appreciate the difficult life Adeline Yen Mah encountered. I would not recommend _Fallen Leaves_ for sensitive or extremely emotional adults.

_Fallen Leaves_ was written in chapters. Each chapter includes another extraordinary tale of Adeline Yen Mah's life. Throughout the story, Adeline Yen Mah describes what it was like growing up in an unwanted family. Her mother passed away after giving birth to her and her family blamed and recented Adeline for her mother's death. Later, her father remarried. Adeline's step mother was controlling and emotionally abusive towards her. Her parents eventually sent her away to boarding school. Adeline Yen Mah was so unloved that people at the boarding school just assumed that she was an orphan. The story may seem, at this point, incredibly depressing but there was hope for little Adeline. Her one true positive feminine role model was her Aunt Baba. Adeline's Aunt loved her and helped her overcome the hatred and abuse from her childhood. Remarkably, with strength from her Aunt Baba, Adeline Yen Mah was able to become a physician and a writer. If that is not strength and determination, then I don't know what is.

The one problem that I encountered with _Fallen Leaves_ was not knowing the exact order of events taking place. Although Adeline Yen Mah attempts to stay in chronological order, I often find my self having to look back at the chapters to determine when exactly an event was taking place.

Overall, I enjoyed reading _Fallen Leaves_, by Adeline Yen Mah. The book was extremely inspiring and interesting at the same time. Reading _Fallen Leaves_ has given me a much greater appreciation for my parents love and respect....

4-0 out of 5 stars Darkness and light
The writing is not spectacular: Mah after all is a doctor, not an author. But the, episodic narrative, while plain, is well written.

This book presents the story of a girl who endured unbelievable cruelty at the hands of her father, siblings, and most especially, stepmother, and yet grew up to be a kind and forgiving woman.

The enormity of Mah's stepmother's cruelty left me in shock at times. "How could someone be that emotionally abusive?" I thought. How could any child grow up to be a well-adjusted adult when she was forbidden to go to visit the few friends she had, or to invite them to her home; when she was dropped off at an orphanage as punishment for some triviality; when her rich parents suggested she go to a bank to get a loan so she could afford to buy a plane ticket to the States, where she had a job waiting for her. These are just a few of the many examples that come to mind as I type this. Mah 's stepmother was, in short, pathologically cruel.

And yet, as if to disprove all the nurture advocates in the nature/nurture debate, Mah grew up to be a forgiving, generous woman. As she reached financial security as an anesthesiologist, she used her money to help her siblings (and their children), though they'd done nothing but torment her for most of their lives.

"Falling Leaves" is a example of how good people are simply good people, no matter how society treats them, and that evil people can be unbelievably dark.

4-0 out of 5 stars Importance of Family
Adeline was born into a family that did not want her. Her mother dies two weeks after she was born. Afterwards, her father then marries a seventeen year old beauty named Jeanne and treats her like a queen. All of the children's names were changed. Sadly, soon enough Adeline was sent away to school wishing for so much more than she had. The novel had a very big impact on me.

In the beginning of the novel i was grasped in. I fell deep into the depressing words of Adeline. Her strive for a family that would love her made me want to read more. The suspense had me wondering what was going to happen next. As i read more, it got better and better.

I did not dislike anything about this novel. I would not stop reading until i got to the end. This book was very heartwarming to me and made me think about how important my family is. It will make you think of your closest to you and what they are doing at that exact moment. In Conclusion I recommmend this book to anyone who enjoys reading.

4-0 out of 5 stars It was kind of neat
My opinion of this book was that it was alittle alright if you love to cry. But then many parts of it seemed to be alittle to farfetched. Like how she cried because all she cared about was to be accepted by her father when she lost everything. Even though that is the right thing, she acted alittle to "good" and it was just annoying. She wouldn't admit that she was actually hurt that she didn't get that ownership to what her father had left her. But then she could've been AT least telling us that she wanted those things.

But then what I had just said was a bit too mean. But sort of true. Plus the fact that if you read this book you would JUST have to give sympathy to her and her childhood. For since she had been through something so rough and hard that you could not believe it. Awesome. Just simply. Awesome. ... Read more


3. Chinese Cinderella : The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter (Laurel-Leaf Books)
by ADELINE YEN MAH
list price: $5.99
our price: $5.39
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0440228654
Catlog: Book (2001-03-13)
Publisher: Laurel Leaf
Sales Rank: 11879
Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A riveting memoir of a girl's painful coming-of-age in a wealthy Chinese family during the 1940s.

A Chinese proverb says, "Falling leaves return to their roots." In Chinese Cinderella, Adeline Yen Mah returns to her roots to tell the story of her painful childhood and her ultimate triumph and courage in the face of despair. Adeline's affluent, powerful family considers her bad luck after her mother dies giving birth to her. Life does not get any easier when her father remarries. She and her siblings are subjected to the disdain of her stepmother, while her stepbrother and stepsister are spoiled. Although Adeline wins prizes at school, they are not enough to compensate for what she really yearns for -- the love and understanding of her family.

Following the success of the critically acclaimed adult bestseller Falling Leaves, this memoir is a moving telling of the classic Cinderella story, with Adeline Yen Mah providing her own courageous voice.
... Read more

Reviews (124)

3-0 out of 5 stars A Dream Come True!
Adeline Yen Mah has written a fantastic book after her best-selling book Falling Leaves. In this story Adeline or Wu Mei is given little notice from her family. That is because her mother had died giving birth to Wu Mei and because of that her family considers her bad luck. Without a mother, her Aunt Baba takes care of her and raises her like she would her own daughter. Even though she skips grades and gets higher scores in school, that is not what she really wants but the love and understanding of her family. Then her father marries a European woman named Jeanne. Niang (chinese for mom) disliked Wu Mei very much. Niang spoiled her children and didn't even like her stepchildren. Niang and her father had abandoned her many times in China. Her aunt and uncle had to rescue her from the communists once. Her grandmother and then later her grandfather had also died as well. Niang also beated her for going to her friend's birthday party. Later Wu Mei entered a writing compeitition and she had won. That was when her father noticed her and granted her wish of going away to college with her brothers. This heart- warming story with make you cry as you read! In this book, you learn how Adeline goes through her sad childhood as she tries to find happiness through her life as an unloved child of her parents.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Unwanted Child
Review:
Chinese Cinderella is about an unwanted daughter. Adeline was hated and neglected by her family, yet she still tried to remain normal. Adeline had always gotten top in the class and the best grades, but something her friends thought she lacked, style. After she was removed from her Aunt Baba, Adeline went to Hong Kong where she studied hard and won an international play writing contest. This gave her the chance, to go to England and study, 'It was like going to heaven''

Response:
Chinese Cinderella is the foremost and most heartbreaking story I have ever read. It is a true story of an unwanted daughter, Adeline Yen Mah. She was neglected by her family for they thought she was bad luck-her mother died when giving birth to her. For years, Adeline went through the torture of her stepmother, until finally, at once, she had a chance to leave and be successful. Her key was because of her grandfather Ye Ye, who had encouraged Adeline to enter a contest. She had won, making her father believe, that it was the right thing to send Adeline to England, for she had brought honor to her family name. By this, it gave her a chance to get out of her contained life, forever.

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing
This is one the most amazing books I've ever read and probably ever will read, and I've truly read many books. Chinese Cinderella have a lot of fact and can teach you a thing or two or twenty about Chinese and Asian culture. But also give you a story that will make you cry, you'll learn about her struggle through the first years of her life. This is an unique "based on a true-story"-book and it's a very touching story and I recommed it to everyone!

4-0 out of 5 stars A true Cinderella account!
This is a really wonderful book,in a way,to those who don;t believe in fairy tales,especially Cinderella,here's a really great book-a real-life autobiography.
In the 1930s,a girl named Jun-ling was born into an affluent family with an elder sister and three elder brothers.Unfortunately,her mother died within two weeks after conceiving her,and she was soon considered to be a jinx.And that was when her life changes.

The poor rich girl was detested by her own sister and her brothers,and even her stepmother,a snobbish,intelligent and French-Chinese beauty.She lived in a lifestyle practically the same as Cinderella.Though she wasn't forced to do housework or anything,she has no freedom of her own,no new clothes(when the family was super wealthy).She moved from schools to schools,cities to cities,and witnessed the deaths of her beloved grandparents.What life is this for a child who was only aged 5-15 at the time?

Her sister picked on her,her brothers tricked her into drinking their urine(yep,they mixed their urine with fruit punch and told her it was a reward for her as headgirl),her closest friend,a little duckling was bitten to death by the family's dog,a German Shephard.The little girl longed to tell someone how life was for her;her friends thought she came from a loving family(when her stepmother cared for her own children than her-slapped the girl,hoped for her death and all really horrible stuff.Seriously,is this what you call a life meant for a human?

Adeline writes in a short and simple way.She tells her tale-not any fairy tale,though she did find happiness in the end.She won numerous awards as a student,has a passion for education.But nobody has ever cared for her.Each time she received an award,nobody was there with her.Her presence was almost inexistence at home.Her father hardly cared for his daughter,he did not even know his daughter's name and date of birth.Can one believe this? Reality was tough,reality was harsh,but the girl accepted it-without a word of complain.She did not give up,and promised to do well at school to live a life better than that of her family's.She became well-known for her flair of writng,went to London to study medicine,and became a doctor soon afterwards.This is a heartwarming tale of a girl.A true Cinderella.With a real stepmother.With stepsiblings(her own siblings detested her,what more stepsiblings?).And fairy-godmothers/father(her aunt Baba,grandad,friends).An amazing and truly profilic book to read.

5-0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I have to admit when I was first introduced to this book I wanted to put it back down because it looked liked a children's book and I NEVER have liked getting involved with the melodrama of the teenage worlds. But once I started reading I could not put it down until I had read it cover to cover. It touched me so deeply I found myself crying for her sorrow and suffering. A reader doesn't necessarily have to be going through the anguish that she went through in order to relate. Its theme is universal and I can now see why some schools are listing this book as required reading: because they might have been like me pondering weather or not to read it or not and wind up missing out one of the best stories I have read in a long time. It is so riveting that at times I forget that this is a true story. Now after reading this tale I appreciate my family more than ever before!!!!!!!! ... Read more


4. Opposite of Fate, The : Memories of a Writing Life
by AmyTan
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142004898
Catlog: Book (2004-09-28)
Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics)
Sales Rank: 64563
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

Amy Tan begins The Opposite of Fate: A Book of Musings, a collection of essays that spans her literary career, on a humorous note; she is troubled that her life and novels have become the subject of a "Cliff’s Notes" abridgement. Reading the little yellow booklet, she discovers that her work is seen as complex and rich with symbolism. However, Tan assures her readers that she has no lofty, literary intentions in writing her novels--she writes for herself, and insists that the recurring patterns and themes that critics find in them are entirely their own making. This self-deprecating stance, coupled with Tan’s own clarification of her intentions, makes The Opposite of Fate feel like an extended, private conversation with the author.

Tan manages to find grace and frequent comedy in her sometimes painful life, and she takes great pleasure in being a celebrity. "Midlife Confidential" brings readers on tour with Tan and the rest of the leather-clad writers’ rock band, the Rock-Bottom Remainders. And "Angst and the Second Book" is a brutally honest, frequently hysterical reflection on Tan’s self-conscious attempts to follow the success of The Joy Luck Club.

In a collection so diverse and spanning such a long period of time, inevitably some of the pieces feel dated or repetitious. Yet, Tan comes off as a remarkably humble and sane woman, and the book works well both to fill in her biography and to clarify the boundaries between her life and her fiction. In her final, title essay, Tan juxtaposes her personal struggles against a persistent disease with the nation’s struggles against terrorism in the aftermath of 9/11. She declares her transformative, artistic power over tragedy, reflecting: "As a storyteller, I know that if I don’t like the ending, I can write a better one."--Patrick O’Kelley ... Read more

Reviews (29)

5-0 out of 5 stars Witty, Engaging and Well-Written Gems
Amy Tan is without question a gifted writer.In this book of essays/musings as diverse as the erroneous interpretation of "The Joy Luck Club" by Cliff Notes or Tan's debilitating and horrifying bout with Lyme disease, the author writes with zest, humor and insight, and she engages the reader from the first page.In some ways, writing essays about one's craft is more difficult than writing a novel because essays are generally less creative and inspiring than fiction, and the reader usually suffers as a result.But Tan's "The Opposite of Fate: A Book of Musings" is like O'Connor's "Mystery and Manners" and "The Habit of Being" in that both authors are able to inform their essays with clever and profound insights that are contained in their works of fiction.Above all, this book is about the relationship of mother and daughter that is at the core of Tan's works.A must read.

3-0 out of 5 stars The good stuff is good, and the rest is...
As a few others have indicated, there are some really moving pieces here about family and memory, as well as some good looks at the life of a writer in many arenas (at the keyboard, on tour, etc.). Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to have been enough of that stuff to fill a book, and so we get a lot of filler, including e-mails that are not that riveting and the essay she wrote about the library when she was 8 (no, I'm not kidding). There is a LOT of repetition; many of these pieces were written and published previously, and that's fine, but when you sit down to edit them into a collection that hangs together, you really need to go through and make sure that things like her father's and brother's deaths, moving to Switzerland, first boyfriend, etc. are not repeated 15 times.

I still love this book for the good parts, but would have been just as happy checking it out from the library.

5-0 out of 5 stars Really nice
I enjoyed reading Amy Tan's essays, the same enjoyable style of writing, although I think her essays are a little more complex than her fiction and this is not a criticism.Observations, some personal history, although this is her thoughts and experiences, it is not "all about her."She isn't full of herself at all.Her experience with Lyme Disease is horrific.And informative!Amy Tan seems to be a very nice person and I am glad she wrote this book.It is one that I will keep on my book shelf and re-read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Many enjoyable essays
I've read and enjoyed all Amy Tan's fiction and was very excited when Opposite of Fate showed up at my local bookstore.I love reading autobiographical pieces from my favorite writers.It's so intriguing to find out where their magic comes from and how they go about tackling the writing process.Amy Tan truly invites us into her life with the essays in this book, with subjects ranging from her thoughts on writing, her upbringing, her favorite author, battling Lyme Disease, hanging out with Steven King and Dave Barry, and (my favorite) turning the Joy Luck Club into a movie.She also gives us background information on some of her novels, which any fan of hers will find interesting.

This book appeals to the side of me that enjoys the candid celebrity photos in People Magazine--the side of me that likes to see personal, private glimpes of how the most wealthy, famous, and successful people live.But this book is guilt-free.No paparazzi stalked Amy Tan to give us this intimate portrait--she voluntarily offers it to us.I recommend.

5-0 out of 5 stars Setting the Record Straight on Amy Tan
I would highly recommend this book to anyone, and not justĀ  writers, women, North Americans with Asian heritage or people with any such specific demographics. A charming and well-written book that is true to the memoir genre where you get to know the author rather than the events of his/her life. There are enough interesting stories from Ms Tan's past, especially the cultural and cross-cultural ones - the former involving her Chinese ancestry and the latter involving her American and Chinese heritage. The reader knows plenty about the events of her life, but only the ones which matter to her, which, ultimately, are the ones that really matter in getting to know someone. However, Ms Tan's goal and focus was to set the record straight on Amy Tan, what she's like and where she stands on many issues, and that she did. There are many enlightening essays with Ms Tan's views and questions on a variety of interesting topics, with notes on how they've impacted her life. The writing style, vocabulary and organization of stories are very typical and symbolic of Ms Tan's ways. I feel like I partly know her now, as in having a feel of the gist of what she is like, how she thinks and sees the world, and that I would find her very amiable if I met her. I only wish every memoir could tell me as much about the writer. PS If you are writing essays on Ms Tan's books and/or her, take her advice and avoid using Cliff's Notes. Cliff never met her. Net sources are even worse! ... Read more


5. Daughter of Heaven : A Memoir with Earthly Recipes
by Leslie Li
list price: $25.00
our price: $16.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1559707682
Catlog: Book (2005-04-04)
Publisher: Arcade Publishing
Sales Rank: 158826
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ!
Leslie Li's memoir is nothing less than astonishing! Beautifully written, it is a true gem, a heavenly memoir, subtle, mythical, evocative and strong, the real deal so to speak. Li is a writer of extraordinary talent, don't miss out on this one, it will give you pleasure and food for thought!

5-0 out of 5 stars Daughter of Heaven : A Memoir with Earthly Recipes
Author, Leslie Li, guides us through her life as a Chinese-American. You will journey through her ancestry, her relationships with her family and growing up in New York with the strictness of the Chinese beliefs.Well written and easily read, this work gives you insight into the author's life and way of life.This work also includes stories from her grandmother, Nai-Nai and recipes from her heritage.Four stars for Li, a novelist writing her family story. ****

4-0 out of 5 stars Circular Odyssey
I liked Daughter of Heaven and would definitely recommend it to other readers.I enjoyed getting to know Li's paternal grandmother, her father, her grandfather's second wife, her mother, and the food, and significance of Chinese life here andin China.

On occasion I found the juxtaposition of a recipe after an emotionally wrenching chapter a bit jarring.I have yet to try the recipes, but I plan to.And I am curious about the significance of the title.Did I miss something?

The book helped me understand Li and what it meant to be a Chinese-American in the United States, Europe and China.The episode involving Li's buying two bamboo flutes in New York's Chinatown and being told by the clerk that she was like them -- empty inside, with no Chinese culture -- was especially powerful.

Her odyssey has been a circular one -- away from Chinese culture and then back to it for an understanding and an appreciation.And I understood how important her father had been in shaping that journey.His verbal cruelty when she were growing up was hard to take, but somewhat mitigated by Li's travels with him to China and learning of his own odyssey.

Li's book brought home once again how long a parent's reach is and how we, no matter how old, are looking for approval or deliberately challenging them. It's how most of us achieve our own identity. Few of us can simply walk away, but dealing with one's parents
often forces us into a response that we then have to resolve at a later date, as Li has attempted, successfully, I'd say, by writing her memoir.

For future projects, I hope Li will continue to use her own stories. They are compelling -- the conflict between two cultures and the search for self.




5-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book about family, life and food!
What initially attracted me to this book in a shop in Zurich was the cover. The title, colors and images made me pick it up. Then there was the inner sleeve, a quick read told me - Hmmm - meeting this person Nai Nai, some recipes, and listening to Leslie Li describe her life sounds like a fun read - but it was so much more.

Daughter of Heaven takes you deep into Leslie's life - that of her wonderful family, of their interaction with each other and the changing world around them. Leslie gives you insight to her world as a child, where she is a little bit spoiled, a little bratty, and somewhat annoyed by her grandmother - Nai Nai and her conservative father. She then returns to these images as a woman, and in realizing what a treasure her family had become to her, finds answers to many questions that have followed her for decades.

Nai Nai - we have the pleasure of enjoying the life (in pages) of this incredible woman - #1 wife of Li Zongren - Chiang Kai-shek's choice for vice president. You get to enjoy Nai-Nai's food (with sumptuous recipe's at the end of each chapter), hear about her subtle yet carefully planned undoings of wife #2, and are witness to her departure from life after age 100 (I was quite sad during this part of the book). You also get to meet Leslie's father, a caring and sensitive man, caught between his stoic traditional Chinese upbringing, his American wife and their children, who are a constant source of challenges and discovery for him.

Leslie has such a colorful family, and does a magnificent job of making the reader a part of her family - it's as if you were Leslie's best friend and she was imparting these experiences to you first hand and inviting you to dinner. I know I want to meet Nai Nai (unfortunately she has passed away), her father, and Leslie herself to probe for more stories.

This is an honest take on the discoveries of life, one which I am certain we can all relate to in some way, as well as getting `a lovely parting gift' at the end of each chapter of a recipe, which brings this book into another dimension - the universal language of food.

5-0 out of 5 stars heart and soul of a Chinese family
"Daughter of Heaven" is a charming and wildly useful book that allows one into the heart of a family and the soul of a Chinese kitchen. The recipes are complex in taste but easy to follow! ... Read more


6. Daughter of the River: An Autobiography
by Hong Ying
list price: $12.00
our price: $9.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0802136605
Catlog: Book (2000-01)
Publisher: Grove Press
Sales Rank: 27406
Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Daughter of the River is a memoir of China unlike any other. Born during the Great Famine of the early 1960s and raised in the slums of Chongqing, Hong Ying was constantly aware of hunger and the sacrifices required to survive. As she neared her eighteenth birthday, she became determined to unravel the secrets that left her an outsider in her own family. At the same time, a history teacher at her school began to awaken her sense of justice and her emerging womanhood. Hong Ying's wrenching coming-of-age would teach her the price of taking a stand and show her the toll of totalitarianism, poverty, and estrangement on her family. With raw intensity and fearless honesty, Daughter of the River follows China's trajectory through one woman's life, from the Great Famine through the Cultural Revolution to Tiananmen Square. ... Read more

Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the better autobiographies of recent Chinese life
I have read many accounts of life in China, and I found that Hong Ying's autobiography is outstanding. Most autobiographies have been written by Chinese intellectuals, but Hong Ying grew up in abject poverty. Her very survival is a testament to incredible perseverence. That she not only survived, but became a talented writer, is nothing short of miraculous. This book has been termed a "Chinese Angela's Ashes," and I believe that that is an apt comparison.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful reading...
Daughter of The River is a story of a young woman dealing with the many adversities that she faced in the slums of China. Hong Ying writes this book from her perspective as an 18 year old although she was in her 30's when this was written. Her family was extremely unemotional and unattached to her throughout her childhood, and as young as she was she always wondered why. It wasn't until she turned 18 that she found out the "secret" as to why everyone in her family treated her as if she was invisible. Of course everything was about "face" and protecting the family name which only compounded her troubles.

Ms. Ying has overcomed her many stuggles to become a successful writer, yet from her book you can feel how deep the scars truly are. My only complaint would be that she tends to jump around in telling her story, but overall it is a sad, yet delightful read knowing that with determination and a strong will she made it out of the slums.

2-0 out of 5 stars If you must read it, borrow it from the library.
I just had a hard time reading/understanding/finishing this book. I did finally finish it because I wanted to know the mystery behind the author's father, but in the end the whole book was disappointing. I guess it's a matter of the book's structure. The author jumps from one time setting to another so often, it gets totally confusing! Also she intertwines different stories of different family members and other people in her life, that it's easy to confuse the characters. Some of the language sounds awkward, the curse words seem...forced. Also after a while, the author's unceasing bitterness towards life tended to grate on my nerves.

1-0 out of 5 stars This is the second book that I've been unable to finish
Rarely have I been unable to finish a book, even when it's quite terrible. However, this book was unreadable to me.

There is no rhyme or reason to this book. There's no linear progression. It's more of a "This happened when I was 5. This happened when I was 15. This happened when I was 12. This happened when I was 5." The book goes nowhere and there is no plot to follow.

After reading the glowing reviews here on Amazon, I was very much looking forward to reading this book. However, after reading half of it, it's in a box in the closet...

1-0 out of 5 stars P.U.
a totally fictionalized auotbio/memoir. author was 2 yrs old, yet recalls events as if she was really there. The prose is vapid and purple. far from being a non-person, she and her family were part of the old elites/reactionaries. of course they suffered; that was the point of the popular revolution. save your m,oney, this book is an awful bore and poorly written ... Read more


7. The Waiting Child: How the Faith and Love of One Orphan Saved the Life of Another
by Cindy Champnella
list price: $23.95
our price: $16.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312309635
Catlog: Book (2003-03-14)
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Sales Rank: 83948
Average Customer Review: 4.64 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The inspiring true story of a four-year-old Chinese orphan who convinces her adoptive American family to return to China to rescue the little boy she couldn’t forget

Adopted by an American family at age four, Jaclyn traveled to her new home with a great burden. Her new family had to leave behind a little boy who had been under her charge at the Chinese orphanage where Jaclyn fought the odds against abandonment, institutionalization, and hunger---not for herself, but on behalf of this even smaller child, whom she regarded as her responsibility.

Jaclyn’s saga spans oceans and cultures. The Waiting Child is an extraordinary story of human resilience in the face of profound loss and suffering---and a testament to the ability of a loving heart to prevail over great adversity. Jaclyn’s unshakable determination to bring to her new life the child she had cared for in the institution, the one she believed with all her heart was “her baby,” will change all assumptions made about the human spirit. In the end, this moving story affirms everything that is good and hopeful in life, when, after a two-year effort, the little boy is brought to this country as the adopted son of Jaclyn’s American aunt and uncle.
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Reviews (36)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Waiting Child: How the Faith and Love of One Orphan SavL
Cindy Champnella writes on her dedication page, "For Jaclyn....my light, my love, my sorrow, my joy....my child." Thus begins the most beautiful story you will ever read. It's the story of 4 year old Jaclyn, adopted from a Chinese orphanage, and her never-ending determination and yearning to bring home the 2 year old boy she loved and "mothered" there. I have known Cindy for a number of years now, and have known the story of Jaclyn and Lee. Yet reading this incredible story in its entirity was so moving I couldn't put it down. Being an adoptive Mom myself, I was very glad to read Cindy's truthful tale of adoption...tremendous joys coupled with moments of raw grief. This is a must-read for anyone who loves children, and is willing to be inspired by the love of a 4 year old, and inspired by her parents who dared to believe that dreams really can come true.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Indomitable Human Spirit At Any Age
This is a must read for anyone who is considering international (or domestic) adoption, has already completed an adoption, or who is simply drawn to a powerful story of love, faith, and tenacity. Cindy Champnella begins her moving tale with a tender letter that she writes to her soon to be daughter who is still in China. She ends this letter, "Come, begin the wonderful adventure of your future. I will be right beside you every step of the way. Take my hand." And so Cindy "takes the reader's hand" on a wonderful, sometimes challenging, often emotional journey as she first enfolds her new daughter into her family, and then as they both courageously and tenaciously attempt to save a small boy from the same orphanage. Cindy's multiple trips to China give plenty of fascinating details of the adoption process and insight into the unimaginable life for children growing up in an institution. This is a book as much about the universality of the human spirit as it is about adoption. A gem of a book.

5-0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ FOR FAMILIES ADOPTING FROM CHINA!
The one word that I would use to describe this book is AMAZING! Cindy Champnella does an incredible job of describing the adoption of their daughter, Jaclyn, from China when she was 4-years old. At times, The Waiting Child is truly heartbreaking to read, but I promise you will not be able to put this book down. Over the past month, I have had over eight of my family/friends borrow my book and we ALL have been deeply touched by Jaclyn and Lee's story. This book gives you insight into the China adoption process, as well as the struggles AND blessings that come from adopting an older child. I can't speak highly enough of this book and wish to advise readers that among other things, it will give you a fresh new perspective in how God can truly use a child to touch so many people's lives to accomplish His purpose. I will never forget this story. Jaclyn Champnella's faith is inspiring.

5-0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended to anyone!
Easily one of the most touching and inspiring stories I've ever read. As an adoptive parent myself and soon to begin the process again, I cried through every chapter and could not put the book down.
I feel compelled to answer some of the criticisms I've read. First of all, this IS beautifully written. Though a self-acknowleged first-time writer, the author writes in a style that is refreshing and unpretentious, perfectly suited to the purpose. This is a real-life account which does not need elaborate plot and character development. Yes, I would have liked more details in certain places but have to respect the privacy of the family and those who worked to bend the rules and work around the system.
Secondly, the charge that the author is racist and somehow planted anti-China sentiments is absurd. She has Chinese daughters, a neice, and nephews whom she obviously loves dearly. She acknowledges up front that she views China with American eyes yet is clear that she has come to love China and tries to instill appreciation for it in her children. Most parents who adopt internationally realize how important this is for their childrens' self-esteem. Jaclyn's negative feelings toward China have much less to do with a lack of national and cultural pride than they do with personal loss and the harshness of orphanage life. It is only after she has begun to heal, that Jaclyn begins to recall simple pleasures and the kindness of those that looked after her there.
Thirdly, the author is NOT trying to toot her own horn either by adopting these wonderful kids or by telling this story. She is simply commending those who choose not to look the other way from children who wait. Within the adoption community, there is a bias from the "politically correct" against those who would seek to "save a child" as if the desire to parent and the needs of those children were somehow mutually exclusive. (Although it is theoretically possible that one might treat adoptees as inferior to bio children, I've very rarely seen it happen). No matter how good the orphanage, children belong with a loving family, whether in China or abroad. No, they are not "lucky" for having been separated from their birth families, their culture, and their heritage-this is tragic. Are they fortunate to be adopted when only 4% (officially, actual number is most likely much smaller)of those abandoned ever will be? And (although not in the best interest of intercountry relations to boast) to a country where they will not only have material advantages and educational opportunity but MUCH more importantly, personal and religious freedoms which many have and continue to die to obtain and protect?
This is an important read. It inspires hope for anyone in any circumstance and calls us to examine our priorities. But specifically, it calls attention to the needs of children everywhere. If it has inspired just one person or couple to form or enlarge a family through adoption - and adoption is NOT second-best- it has been successful. Add to that , all of the author's proceeds are going to benefit the children who remain in Chinese orphanages. Let's stop the petty bickering and criticism and concentrate on the children. Thank you Cindy and Jaclyn!

5-0 out of 5 stars Everyone who is able to read should read book!
This is the most incredible story I have ever read. My heart has never ached so much for someone I have never met. Being Chinese and having an understanding of how things are in China, and also being a mother, aunt and children's advocate, I related to Jaclyn and what she was feeling during the process of getting a family for "her baby". Her persistance and the fierceness with which she loves this little boy is absolutly amazing. ... Read more


8. Bound Feet & Western Dress : A Memoir
by PANG-MEI CHANG
list price: $13.95
our price: $10.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0385479646
Catlog: Book (1997-09-15)
Publisher: Anchor
Sales Rank: 99080
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"In China, a woman is nothing."

Thus begins the saga of a woman born at the turn of the century to a well-to-do, highly respected Chinese family, a woman who continually defied the expectations of her family and the traditions of her culture. Growing up in the perilous years between the fall of the last emperor and the Communist Revolution, Chang Yu-i's life is marked by a series of rebellions: her refusal as a child to let her mother bind her feet, her scandalous divorce, and her rise to Vice President of China's first women's bank in her later years.

In the alternating voices of two generations, this dual memoir brings together a deeply textured portrait of a woman's life in China with the very American story of Yu-i's brilliant and assimilated grandniece, struggling with her own search for identity and belonging. Written in pitch-perfect prose and alive with detail, Bound Feet and Western Dress is the story of independent women struggling to emerge from centuries of customs and duty.
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Reviews (25)

3-0 out of 5 stars Without Pang Mei's story intertwined I would have given it 5
I love Chang Yu-I's story, it was fascinating & well written, but I found the the authors' story bored me to tears. Yes it was nice to have the author establish the relationship between the the tale of a young Chinese woman in the early part of the century and beyond, and her niece born and raised in America, but Pang-Mei/Natasha Chang's perspective was far too centered on her insecurities growing up as a first generation Chinese woman in a family of immigrants. Why not take a cue from her ancestors and be pleased with not only who he or she was as an individual, but of the family that they came from as well. Her obsession too with her parents accomplishments and her graduation from Harvard made me think that the author veers between self loathing and an inflated self worth. Had she not inserted herself into the story except as narrator, I believe that this would have been a better book. My message to Pang-Mei Natasha Chang is get over the petty childhood teasing and get on with your life--I'm sure your chief tormentor Douglas sure has.

5-0 out of 5 stars Haunting - Illuminates how culture can cripple women's minds
As Yu-i tells her story, it became clear to me that even though her feet had not been bound, her mind had been fatally wounded by the conditioning she received as a child that "woman is nothing."

Mistreated and abused by her husband she still devoted her life to protecting the the "face" of his parents and even his perverse second wife.

She would not allow herself to remarry until very old because of the shame it would bring on her family, though she was completely blameless in her husband's abandonment of her.

Hearing her tell her story in her own words gave me much greater insight into why it is so often women who perpetuate the women-mutilating traditions of dysfunctional cultures. I could clearly see in the attitudes she shares with us how a woman, no matter how brave, who grows up in a culture that finds only mutilated women "beautiful" will internalize the self-destructive attitudes that have been drummed into her during childhood.

I felt that the author's interweaving of her own story into the story of her great aunt weakened the book. The author is still very young and has not gone through the crises and major life decisions that would maker her own story complete enough to make it the kind of memoir material that could compete in interest with that of her great aunt. However, having I look forward to hearing "the rest of the story" when she is older. She is clearly on her way to being a fine writer!

5-0 out of 5 stars A good book, because it is a true story.
I enjoyed the auuthor's simple writing style. The story is about a woman who decides whether or not to make her own life, or allow it to be decided for her. The best thing about this book, is that it is a true story. The book was fast reading, and very inspirational. I would reccommend it.

2-0 out of 5 stars Why Am I Famous
This woman Natasha is suffering from the WAIF (why am I famous) syndrome. She has accomplshed nothing beside a stupid degree from Harvard (her family is loaded obviously. Her grandfather and father, chinese, went to Japan after the war. Why? Where did their money come from? Any patriotic chinese would not go to Japan after the war. They must be special.) So, she dragged up this great aunt who had been married to a poet for a few years. This great aunt has done nothing except what most good chinese women of her generation would do----swallowed bitterness, did her duty etc--- I was a child in Hong Kong when I heard about the letter Yu-I's son wrote about her proposed re-marriage. Everybody said her son was brilliant and a loving son. Yu-I herself never complained. I left Hong Kong after she emigrated so I know.

This Natasha went on endlessly about her 'suffering.' Poor thing, if chinese waiter speak to her in chinese , she would have a fit. Likewise the other way round. She did not have the grace to talk properly to a chinese ex-change student thousands of miles away from home (chinese people are not a novelty to her, she said.) She complained about chinese people with bad teeth and bad English, unlikely her posh family. Well, from what I can see from the photo, her whole family is preety ugly. What is more, they are self-centred, full of self-importance, selfish, and stupid. What with her father talking about producing 'pure chinese children.' Of course, Natasha herself will never marry a chinese. This is the real her. Trying to glamorize herself by some digging of past 'romance and glory.' She does not give two figs about the suffering of the chinese people in China like the aids village or millions of child workers working in desperate condition. She is so stupid that she mentioned Yu-I's war profiteering (buying dye used for army uniform and holding it back until the price had increased a hundred fold.) I am so sick I can puke.

3-0 out of 5 stars Get a Life
This woman Natasha is the most irritating thing I have come across in a long time. Her own life is so stupid and boring, but she insists us to know how a million years ago she was called chinky and whatnot. She brags about her family (evidently a family ritual) endlessly. From what I can see, her family is stupid, selfish (war profiteering by Yu-Yi if you ask me), boring. Yu Yi has accomplished nothing neither. She went through what most chinese women went through in terms of humuliation, abuse, etc. But she had enough to eat and did nothing to help poor people. I am chinese myself. I am just sick of Natasha's story. To give credit to Yu Yi , she never whined before this was dragged out of her. ... Read more


9. Forest Recollections: Wandering Monks in Twentieth-Century Thailand
by Kamala Tiyavanich
list price: $30.00
our price: $30.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0824817818
Catlog: Book (1997-03-01)
Publisher: University of Hawaii Press
Sales Rank: 544847
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars This book deserves a wide audience
As a Westerner who has done a lot of meditation in Thailand over the last 18 years, I've been curious to know the history of meditation in Thailand. I've also wondered about the Tudong or wondering monks whom I've occasionally seen here. This book explains it all. It is also very inspirational for serious meditators and might even inspire people who are curious about meditation.

As far as I can tell (having spent about a year in Thai monasteries), Kamala is right on the button in everything she writes. My only complaint about the book is that the footnotes are in the back instead of at the bottom of the page.

This book should deserves a wide audience. ... Read more


10. The Glorious Deception: The Double Life of William Robinson, aka Chung Ling Soo, the "Marvelous Chinese Conjurer"
by Jim Steinmeyer
list price: $27.00
our price: $17.82
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 078671512X
Catlog: Book (2005-05-10)
Publisher: Carroll & Graf Publishers
Sales Rank: 5630
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Book Description

In a biography woven from equal parts enchantment and mystery, Jim Steinmeyer unveils the secrets behind the most enigmatic performer in the history of stage magic, Chung Ling Soo, the "Marvelous Chinese Conjurer"—a magician whose daring made his contemporary Houdini seem like the boy next door. Soo’s infamous and suspicious onstage death in 1918 mystified his fellow magicians: he was shot during a performance of "Defying the Bullets," in which he attempted to catch marked bullets on a porcelain plate. When Soo died, his deceptions began to unravel. It was discovered that he was not Chinese but a fifty-eight-year-old American named William Ellsworth Robinson, a former magicians’ assistant and the husband of Olive Robinson. But even William Robinson was not who he appeared to be, for he had kept a second family with a mistress in a fashionable home near London.

Here is a look at the rough-and-tumble world of turn-of-the-century entertainments, the West’s discovery of Oriental culture, and Soo's strange descent into secrecy as he rose to stardom—written by the foremost chronicler of magic’s history and culture. Due to the scandals surrounding Robinson’s death, this is the first time his full story has ever been told.

Photographs are included. ... Read more


11. The Accidental Asian : Notes of a Native Speaker (Vintage)
by ERIC LIU
list price: $13.00
our price: $9.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375704868
Catlog: Book (1999-09-07)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 194210
Average Customer Review: 3.75 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

What is race for? That bracing question animates every page of The Accidental Asian, a powerful work from one
of the nation's leading young voices. In these personal and poignant reflections on assimilation,
Eric Liu articulates a vision of American identity that will provoke and inspire. For Liu, the price of
assimilation became clear when he tried to read a memorial book about his father's life, composed in Chinese,
and found himself staring at a blur of indecipherable characters. There in his hands was the measure of his
inheritance. Liu, meanwhile, has watched with both wonder and concern as a pan-ethnic Asian American
identity has taken shape. Here now is a race that offers a new source of roots--but also tightens the hold that
color has upon our minds.
Like so many in the second generation, Liu doesn't know whether to embrace, resist, or redefine assimilation--
and ends up doing all three at once. He speaks candidly about his journey from a fierce pursuit of racelessness to a slow
rapprochement with race. He is not afraid to reveal his ambivalence. At bottom, Liu is an "accidental Asian"--someone who has stumbled upon a sense of race, who is not always sure what to do with it.
         Weaving narrative and analysis into a series of elegant essays, Liu addresses a broad range of questions:
 ¸          Is whiteness America's fundamental race problem?
 ¸          Are Asian Americans really the New Jews?
 ¸  Should we fear the rising might of China?
 ¸          What does a journey through Chinatown
reveal about our own lives?
 ¸          What might intermarriage mean for Asian
Americans--and for the future of race itself?

         The clear voice in these pages will resonate with Americans of every hue. Beyond black and white, conservative and liberal,
native and alien, lies a vast and fertile field of human experience. It is this field that Liu, with insight and compassion, invites us to explore.
... Read more

Reviews (48)

4-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and Hearfelt Arguments for Omniculturalism
"The Accidental Asian" is a deeply introspective collection of essays on growing up as a second generation Chinese American. However, the essays constitute much more than that, being a brilliant and heartfelt series of arguments in support of what Eric Liu appropriately calls "omniculturalism" and what others, with derisory connotations, call "assimilationism". It is a book which has as much to say about what it means to be an American, and where American culture and society are heading, as it does about the specific struggles of its author.

There is a scene which Liu describes in his essay, "The Chinatown Idea", which particularly struck me and which illustrates Liu's view of ethnicity and the claims of tradition. When Liu was a young boy, he and his family took a day trip to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, a trip which Liu remembers vividly. "[W]hat I remember most is meeting the eyes of an Amish boy about my age. He stared back at me, pale and expressionless, as if from a history book. To me, this was a boy already dead, consigned to live out his days in someone else's past."

This memory, like many others, form the ground for Liu's compelling arguments for individual choice and against the claustrophobic, lock-step claims of ethnic and cultural traditions. Since "[e]very identity is a social construction, a drawing of arbitrary lines," each generation (indeed, each individual within each generation), must establish his or her own cultural identity, drawing on traditions of the past, but ultimately deriving authenticity from the exercise of freedom. As Liu writes, with thinly veiled gratitude to his parents, "[i]t just happens that I was raised with great latitude--to preserve, discard, combine, and create." Thus, Liu proffers a kind of existential argument for assimilation, or at least for having the freedom to choose the degree of one's ethnic identity. As Liu notes, "Chineseness isn't a mystical, more authentic way of being; it's just a decision to act Chinese."

In arguing for "omniculturalism" or "assimiliation", Liu provides a particularly insightful discussion and analysis of the development, since the 1970's, of the so-called "Asian American" identity, an imagined community that has sought to unify the interests and cultures of the polyglot Asian ethnic groups. He also notes the compelling demographic trends which establish, "that America is white no longer, and it will never be white again." Thus assimilation in America no longer has the same meaning, and rejecting the past in favor of a future in an omnicultural society "is an act of creation, as much as destruction."

While you may disagree with Liu's ultimate position, "The Accidental Asian" is a lucidly written, thoughtful examination of the issues raised by ethnicity and the claims of tradition, a memoir which deeply mirrors the cultural and social turmoil of America at the dawn of this new millenium.

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting Perspective
The Accidental Asian makes for quick, fascinating reading. Eric Liu is very eloquent and his viewpoints are very thought provoking. I really recommend the book. But however, his viewpoint is of an "ABC" who grew up primarily in a white suburb and occasionally visits the "Old Chinatown" (in NY). He does mention Monterey Park and the new Little Taipei but lacks experience in that community. There's a whole new world of Asian Americans out there in Southern California left to be explored hopefully by other authors. We immigrated to the U.S. when we're in grade school and grew up in the U.S. in mixed culture and race neighborhoods unlike the polar extremes presented in Eric's book: white suburban neighborhood or a very Chinesee-Chinatown. We grow up fully aware and accepting of our dual-cultural upbringing and identity...and quite comfortable at that. It's like the Irish Americans and the Italian Americans...we're Chinese Americans. We also grew! up in affluent, professional Asian American neighborhoods, with friends who all attend prestigious universities and graduate school. Eric does make a good point that the "Asian American" is an artificial and contrived term.

5-0 out of 5 stars pretty good
This book is honest and the author doesn't try to say more than he knows. Nothing exotic thrown in for effect or drama. He writes for Asians and for himself which is uncommon.

It's not perfect but I gave it five stars anyway.

1-0 out of 5 stars one of the worst books i've read
this is by far one of the worst books i've read. as a 2nd generation asian american (chinese) i thought i would be reading a book that i can relate to. mr. liu is living in a secular society where his views are those of a priviledged upper middle class society. don't waste your time on this one.

3-0 out of 5 stars accidental race awareness
By titling the book "The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker" Eric Liu leaves little doubt as to his outlook on racial self-identity. He is Asian only by 'accident'--if it were up to him he would shed his skin like an ermine coat in summer. He wants to make sure you know he is a Native Speaker. Of what? And this is supposed to shock and please: don't all Asians speak English with a bad accent? On his list of things about himself that he thinks people might characterize as 'white', Eric Liu mentions that he speaks 'unaccented English'. The mere fact that he thinks an 'unaccented English' exists at all speaks volumes--the myth that there is a normalcy, an order in which anything that is not mainstream is to be slapped with otherness. There is the Southern 'accent'; there is the Australian 'accent'; and he speaks the 'unaccented' English. Oh the model minority. The good ol' 'if you try hard enough, you can almost become white' sentiment, without the hard edge. The same type of racial unawareness would persist throughout the rest of the book. And the fascinating thing about the book is that it is supposed to be a reflection on racial self-identity.

Eric Liu describes how in college he avoided Asian student groups because he did not want to be a member of self-segregating, crusading fanatics. He prides himself on the fact that race notwithstanding he was able to penetrate into the 'center of power'--if being a speech writer for Clinton can justify that claim. He never was subject to ostensible forms of racism. What Eric Liu does not realize is that if things were as easy for most people of color as they were for him, nobody would in their right minds choose to be a race militant.

The book does, however, appear to have honest intentions. Eric Liu speaks in the first person not of opinions or personal agenda, at least for the most part, but questions and reflections. He may not be adequately knowledgeable about race issues--partly due to the upper middle class success that shields him from reality--but at the very least he makes an effort to examine them. The book has the appearance and the candor of an edited personal diary, telling stories that many Asian Americans can relate to. Episodes like the struggle with Asian hair, the rebellion against stereotypes by running the opposite direction, the history of assimilation and then rebirth of self-identity, and the adolescent frustration with 'getting chicks'--would evoke the shared experience and the understanding smile on perhaps 9 out of every 10 Asian American men. The book is a recommendable read, although readers who do not hope to deceive themselves should also read Malcom X's autobiography and "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" by Dr. Tatum--books that I itched to send to Eric Liu while I was reading his book. ... Read more


12. WOMAN WARRIOR
by MAXINE HONG KINGSTON
list price: $24.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0394400674
Catlog: Book (1976-08-12)
Publisher: Knopf
Sales Rank: 555710
Average Customer Review: 3.53 out of 5 stars
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Amazon.com

The Woman Warrior is a pungent, bitter, but beautifully written memoir of growing up Chinese American in Stockton, California. Maxine Hong Kingston (China Men) distills the dire lessons of her mother's mesmerizing "talk-story" tales of a China where girls are worthless, tradition is exalted and only a strong, wily woman can scratch her way upward. The author's America is a landscape of confounding white "ghosts"--the policeman ghost, the social worker ghost--with equally rigid, but very different rules. Like the woman warrior of the title, Kingston carries the crimes against her family carved into her back by her parents in testimony to and defiance of the pain. ... Read more

Reviews (153)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Book for Older Readers
Although Maxine Hong Kingston does jump around from chapter to chapter (which seems to confuse most), she does a great job at explaining her life growing up as a Chinese-American. I can really relate to some of the aspects of the books. Kingston recalls constantly being filled with ridiculous stories. These stories, though, become a part of who she is and what she believes. The sub-title of the book, "Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts", explains a lot of what the author has to deal with. She has to deal with hearing that her friends and her are ghosts, because they are American. All of the people that surrounded Kingston's family were ghosts, except for the Chinese people who lived on the Gold Mountain, Chinatown in San Francisco. The children's teachers and coaches were ghosts. Kingston feels like a ghost herself: "...we had been born amonth ghosts, were taught by ghosts, and were ourselves ghost-like. They called us a kind of ghost."

This book is truely a page turner. There's always something to learn or laugh about in each turn. Wonderful book.

3-0 out of 5 stars HOW TO GAIN PITY
Kingston, with her novel about misplaced and awkward lives in society, uses the first person narrative to make the reader understand the problems and opinions of herself, and the way she sees the world. A story about a Chinese girl lost and confused in a new culture, The Woman Warrior has very strong and savage views. These opinions are only enhanced by the first person, and give a greater impact to the message. Slightly disturbed and greatly angered by unfain treatment, Kingston's book is a rather hateful one. She uses strong words, blunt remarks, and subliminal messages to give the reader a feeling that she is simply lost in a world full of hallow ghosts. Throughout the entire novel she portrays herself as the victim, in an attempt to gain the reader's pity. A sad reflection of her own life, The Woman Warrior is truly a novel about a lost soul in an unfamiliar place.

One would first assume Kingston to be a very bitter person, but her strong opinions are formed by the society she lives in. An old Chinese saying, "Better to raise geese than girls," (pg. 46), angers Kingston as a child. Her entire lifestyle and culture, American and Chinese, revolves around the concept of male dominance. Throughout the book the reader sees the cynical hatred Kingston holds for anyone who who does not sympathize with her race and gender; even by writing this book she asks for the pity of others. Such an example can be found when Brave Orchid (Kingston's mother) and Moon Orchid (Kingston's aunt), set out to avenge the marriage of Moon Orchid's husband and new wife. It is not only the cultural differences which set the awkwardness of the confrontation, but Kingston's mother's rage against the weak, (a trait later found in Kingston), which make this argument concerning divorse troublesome. Moon Orchid is shy and afraid, while Brave Orchid, anger fuled by Moon Orchid's timidness and her own extreamly feminist views, demands that she reclaim her title as wife. By the way Kingston words and retells her mother's expiriances, the reader understands the implied message that it is the husband who divorced who is evil, and the shy female who is right; this makes the first person narrative effective in that the reader sees the very strong emotions felt by Kingston and her mother. THe first person is also used to create bias opinions and exagerated comments, such as with Moon Orchid's "animalistic" children. Seen as lying, rude, vain, and selfish, the harsh words of Kingston try to make the reader think the children really are so selfish and evil, when infact it is only a misunderstood cultural difference. By being in the first person, the reader sees the opinions of Kingston, and must try to formulate what is truth and what is exagerated. Kingston, her own views tainted and twisted by society's treatment, uses the first person point of view very well to try to gain the sympathy of the reader.

Well written and very vague, this book leaves the reader searching for the truth rather than Kingston's bias views. Slightly disturbed, she is able to claim the pity of her readers by displaying herself as a victim of racial and cultural differences, and the rest of the world as mindless and uncaring drones. With the first person narrative, she can turn the reader's opinion to fit her own. She very effectivly gain's the readers pity.

4-0 out of 5 stars Trailblazer
I'm astonished to read so many virulently negative reviews. I read this book just after it came out, as a high-school student, and loved it for the strength of the writing and the vivid images, also the mix of fantasy and reality.

I do recall being a bit surprised at her anger, but up until then the only stories of Chinese-American girlhood that were available (all one or two of them, I think; this was the mid-70s) portrayed very dutiful, very quiet, very "good" girls. So this was an eye-opener and a stereotype buster, and should be welcomed for that. We have to remember that this was written nearly 30 years ago, when the whole multi-cultural debate was really just getting going; perhaps some things in it would be different now. But the trailblazers in any society often have to be angry to get their messages heard -- and taken seriously. And people like Maxine Hong Kingston laid the foundations that allowed literature by people like Amy Tan to be published. She deserves credit for this.

I can definitely see that aspects of the book could be annoying to Asian-Americans who find people taking this as gospel about Chinese culture, though.

But I'd also like to suggest that some of the negative responses might also come from people uneasy with the idea that non-white people are angry about the racism they've experienced in the United States. It's easy to think this anger is exaggerated if you've never experienced racism.

4-0 out of 5 stars women warrior
The book by Maxine Kinston is based on five different stories about different Chinese women. The novel is filled with Chinese folktales and culture. This is a story that one as a Chinese or any other culture could relate to because throughout the novel shows ancestry and tales about myths and legends. The novel will take you through stories of deception and haunt that is told through the eyes of Kingston herself. Starting with long lost aunts followed by so-called ghost warriors and ending with stories about her mother's life back in china; this book will keep you reading until the end. I recommend this story to anyone who is interested in story tale and culture of a different sort, that of Chinese. I enjoyed reading the novel myself and it kept me reading in interest on the twist and turns of Kingston's life.

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting Chinese-American Read
I enjoyed reading the fictional tale Warrior Woman by Maxine Hong Kingston. I think anyone who likes to see how other cultures live and relate to one another will enjoy this story. Readers who enjoy fantasy type stories will also enjoy this book, because it is rich in both types of story telling. After reading the novel, I can appreciate Chinese culture more, and although I usually shy away from fantasy stories and novels, the sections dealing with fantastic themes drew me in. In the story White Tigers, I was attempted to skip pages until the end of the section, but somehow I kept reading the story and I became more involved in it. When I realized the story was being told to empower Chinese women, it gave the whole fantasy a new meaning to me. Women at the time of the story held little value in Chinese society. Girls grow up, go away, and leave their aged parents, but boys were expected to stay with the parents along with their wives to care for their elderly parents.
The story No Name Woman disturbed me as I read. No name woman was the narrator's aunt. The aunt became No Name Woman after her family disowned her for committing adultery and becoming pregnant. The aunt would never name the father, so he could bear in her shame. What bothered me most about this section is not so much that the father escaped punishment, although that bothered me too, but the total lack of forgiveness from the family. Because of this total lack of family forgiveness, this young woman killed herself and her newborn. How terribly sad!
Although the Chinese society seemed to value family and a tradition, I found it highly curious that they could not speak about sex at all and they went to great lengths to avoid even family intimacy. Kingston describes how family members in China shout into each other's faces and yell at each other across the room. At mealtimes, which is a sort of intimate family time, no one talks.
I found the section At the Western Place intriguing. I am aware that there are many immigrants who come to the United States to make a better life for themselves, many times leaving families behind until they can establish themselves. When I read how Moon Orchid had been waiting for her husband for over 30 years and he never returned, instead establishing a new family in the United States, to say I was taken back, is expressing my reaction mildly. Moon Orchid did not seem to mind the arrangement though. Could it have been because she was well provided for financially without the obligation of carrying out wifely duties? Perhaps she enjoyed the prestige of being a married woman. Whatever her reasons, I felt so sorry for her after her sister Brave Orchid forced a confrontation between the estranged spouses. Moon Orchid was devastated by the encounter and was never the same afterwards. Something intangible and innocent within her was forever altered.
I would recommend that this book be read in a thoughtful and serious manner, although the narrative is by no means heavy or serious, but the characters themselves as interesting as well as being a complex mixture of clashes between their own culture and their assimilation to American culture. There are marked differences between the struggles of the young people and the struggles of the older people and how both groups try to fit into the new society while holding onto parts of traditional Chinese culture. I found The Warrior Woman a good read. ... Read more


13. A Daughter of Han: The Autobiography of a Chinese Working Woman
by Lao Toai-Toai Ning, Ida Pruitt
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0804706069
Catlog: Book (1990-10-01)
Publisher: Stanford University Press
Sales Rank: 114797
Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Slice of Life
Ning Lao Ta'i-ta'i. _The Autobiography of a Chinese Working Woman. Translated and Transcribed by Ida Pruitt. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1967.

Every now and then I read an entire book in one for one or two reasons a) I have to read a book that I have put off for the time period in which I had to read it b) I become completely engrossed in it. I must say that, in the case of this book, it started off as the former and it ended up being the latter, although I still have to write a paper on it by tuesday.

This memoir was was orally transcribed by Ida Pruitt over a two year period in which Mrs. Ning visited her from 1936-38. Pruitt was forced to leave Beijing in 1938 when the Japanese invaded the series. In the brief introduction of the book, Pruitt informs the reader that she does not know what happened to Mrs. Ning after she returned to America. The brutallity of the Japanese army was not as great in Beijing as in such areas as Nanjing and Shanghai,but one can not help wondering about Mrs.Ning who the reader, or at least I, becomes quite attached to.

Mrs. Ning begins her tale by detailing how her family became established in the town of P'englai her family history is both entrenched in history and folklore and makes for a fascinting read. The book continues following her life from her childhood, marriage, hard times, working both for government officials and missionaries, and finally living in Beijing. The greatest thing about this book is the extraordinary detail Mrs. Ning goes into describing her everyday life. One can almost see oneself removing the fourth wall of the past and being able to see late Ching China. One gets to see a good picture of opium addiction and the dealings inside yamen, political offices, that are no longer controlled by skilled officials. A great book.

4-0 out of 5 stars I Really Liked this book!
I had to read this book for a core class in college and I thought that I would have hated it. Actually, I really liked it. It told of a Chinese working woman's life. It even gives the reader an insight into her lifestyle and her struggles during this tumuluous time in history. The story even touches on the japanese invasion. I didn't think this biography would be interesting but it was. I would recommended this book to anyone. It is a light read and it is very interesting.

4-0 out of 5 stars life of one Chinese woman
Ida Pruitt's biography of Ning Lao T'ai-t'ai (literally "old lady Ning"), a peasant woman of northeast China born in 1867, is a fascinating anecdotal retelling of Ning's personal history as she related it to the author over the course of their two year long friendship. The storyline of Ning's life: childhood, marriage, work, and children, is laid out in a chronological history, broken into separate sections at particular turning points; and yet a cohesive theme of hardship, oppression and poverty, of strong-willed women and weak men is carried throughout not only Ning's tales but also through the stories she relates of her ancestors and neighbors.

Pruitt writes in the voice of Ning as if she is translating, but what she is really doing is recalling Ning's stories of her life in the first half of the 20th century. Ning was born into an educated middle class family which had fallen on harder times. Her father wants a better situation for her marriage, but the older husband he choses for her becomes addicted to opium driving the family into poverty. To survive and feed her children Ning must become first a beggar, then a servant to various households: military, Muslim, bureaucrat, and finally to Christian missionaries. And Ning's voice does come across clearly; speaking against concubinage and prostitution, about the penury of employers, the need to support and keep family together.

By using a first person retelling of the stories Pruitt gives the impresssion of accuracy, yet there were 7 years between the conversations with Ning and the writing of the book. Also the apparent bias against Japanese in prologue and last chapter together with the pub. date of the book indicate a hidden agenda on the part of the author. Still, although limited to the view of this one woman's experience, Ning's story is reflective of the hardships of life for Chinese women before the Communist era.

1-0 out of 5 stars This book compelled me to dry-heave more than once
Having read a lot of texts translated from Chinese lately for class, I have to say that this is one of the poorest jobs of translating I have ever encountered. Translating from Chinese to English is not an easy job, granted, because Chinese text is pictographic and requires a lot of artistic elaboration on the part of the author to keep the text alive for a Western audience. "A Daughter of Han" is a complete failure in this respect. As a reader, I felt so far removed from the events of the story, it was as though I was hearing an account of the plot from a woman who knew another guy who'd once heard about this lady who'd had these things happen to her that might be interesting if only the storytelling weren't so detached. I suppose one could make an argument that the emotional detachment with which the author treats potentially very dramatic events makes a larger statement about the Chinese culture, but that still doesn't make it worth reading for 250 pages. I could've gotten the same enthusiasm and emotional detachment from the blurb on the back of the book, had I only known better. Plus, if a key point of the book was this unusual treatment of tone, there are definitely tons of books out there that exemplify exactly how to do this without losing the reader, such as "The Stranger." Anyway, I'll wrap this up so as not to be as thoroughly terrible as the book. Bottom line, this book is boring. If you want to find out about how the common people of China lived around the turn of the 20th century, get a good textbook, look up the time period in the index, and read the obligatory social history section. It'll be about a page long. Amen to that.

5-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book
This book truely helped give insight into the life of a working chinese woman. The hardships and the triumphs are all desplayed. The detail to which Pruitt describes China and the life of Ning Lao T'ai-'ai are amazing ... Read more


14. Chronicle of the Chinese Emperors: The Reign-By-Reign Record of the Rulers of Imperial China (Chronical Series)
by Ann Paludan
list price: $34.95
our price: $23.07
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0500050902
Catlog: Book (1998-11-01)
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Sales Rank: 126270
Average Customer Review: 3.91 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Spanning more than two thousand years, from the first emperor, buried with his terra-cotta army in the third century B.C., to the last emperor, enthroned in the Forbidden City as a boy of four in 1911, Chronicle of the Chinese Emperors presents the entire history of this vast and still mysterious region through the stories of its all-powerful rulers. The Chinese imperial system combined a highly centralized administration with a Confucian philosophy of moral-political beliefs. The emperor was the Son of Heaven and enjoyed semi-divine powers, but he was not infallible: should he fail his subjects, rebellion was justified. The emperors therefore weathered centuries of violent change and, despite brutal revolts and civil wars, remained at the center of the largest political unit in the world, the Middle Kingdom. The emperors were an extraordinary group of men--and one woman, Wu Zetian--whose virtues and faults were magnified by their exalted position. Many were literary scholars and painters (the Song emperor, Huizong, founded an imperial academy of painting). Some were mentally retarded; and some left the control of the empire to their eunuchs, concubines, or dowager empresses. Under able rulers, China's frontiers expanded, dominating Central and Southeast Asia; under weak rulers the frontiers shrank, and for centuries the country was occupied by alien Mongols. It took the arrival of a civilization from the West with superior firepower finally to shake the Middle Kingdom's foundations. The detailed coverage includes: data files for every emperor, listing important information such as name at birth and details of wives and concubines; special features ranging from the Great Wall of China to the Ming Tombs; portraits of the major emperors and maps detailing, for example, the arrival of Buddhism and the Silk Road routes; time lines with at-a-glance visual guides to the length and key events of each emperor's reign. ... Read more

Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars An illustrated overview.
For all Chinese Emperors the book shows the Chinese signs, the temple name and the dates of their accession and their death. From 400 AD onwards gradually the birth date, name of the parents and wives, the number of children and the place of the tomb are added. The rulers of a period of 2100 years are described in 224 richly illustrated pages with additional time lines, quotes and special features, so the books can not dig very deep into the characters of the Emperors. Eleven rulers of five dynasties in the period 907-960 are described in 1 paragraph, but famous Emperors like Qin Shihuangdi, Xuanzong, Kublai Khan and Qianlong are described in more than 3 pages each. Nevertheless, the story of the Chinese Emperors and dynasties is a very interesting one. Not only the decline of a dynasty was marked by murders and suicides. The only reigning Empress of China ever, Wu Zetian, remained in power by murdering other members of the imperial family. Ming Jiajing narrowly escaped being strangled by his concubines and Prince Wuzong was chosen as Emperor by the eunuchs, who slew two rival candidates and their mothers. Still, some Emperors were mainly interested in artistic, intellectual or spiritual pursuits. The special features give additional background information with topics like the Great Wall, the Terracotta Army and the Forbidden City. The book really gives a clear overview. What I especially liked were the tables with information about each Emperor and the many portraits.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good, but somewhat disapointing
Having read two others in this series (Roman Emperors and Russian Tzars), I was somewhat disapoionted by this book in the series. Prehaps it has to do with the complexity of the subject matter and the politics of the Chinese Imperial Court itself but I found the book jumping from reign to reign describing many of the emperors with only a sentence or two. Also, it seemed like the book spent more time talking about the other players in court life rather than the emperor himself. Also, while the book has numerous pictures only a few of the emperors have a picture in the book. I would have liked to see pictures of all the emperors if possible. My final complaint with the book is that it would talk about other players in court life or politics without introducing them or putting their role in context.

For example, the book often says something such as "following the death of Emperor X, Mr. Y was able to place the infant son of so-and-so on the throne where thereafter Mr. Y dominated Chinese government for the next 50 years" but then say nothing more about the emperor or Mr. Y and the book would just jump to the next emperor.

I can understand that it is beyond the scope of the book, but over and over the author points out that often the power behind the throne was a woman but then never really descibes the woman or how she came to exert such influnce.

Overall I enjoyed the book very much, but the text seemed to raise many questions and skip around. As a result, after I finished the book I felt I knew less about the Chinese Emperors than I did the Roman Emperors or Russian Tzars after reading those books.

In spite of the faults I found with the book, it was still an enjoyable book to read and the pictures were interesting. I would recomend this book to the general reader or somebody who is just starting to learn Chinese History.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good, but brief introduction to Chinese history
I purchased this book in Shanghai hoping to learn more about early Chinese history. I had just visited Huang Shan meaning Yellow Mountain named after Huang Di, the Yellow Emperor. In this book there are only a few sentences on him. The material the book does cover is presented in an interesting but brief manner. Covering the material in great detail would take require a volume much larger. I recommend this as an introduction and starting point for those not familiar with Chinese history.

2-0 out of 5 stars Inaccurate information
The author states that the first Tang Emperor, Li Yuan, designated his second son, Li Shimin, a crown prince. In fact, the crown prince was not Li Shimin but his first son, killed by Li Shimin in the 926 coup.

2-0 out of 5 stars Well-presented but sloppy on content
A blooper on page 10 says it all: the Sui Dynasty is inexplicably represented by the character 'Qi'. Paludan's book is well-intentioned and nicely-illustrated, but her grasp of the Chinese language and experience in historical research are clearly not up to the daunting task of presenting a comprehensive account of imperial Chinese history. As her bibliography shows, she has had to rely on several dated works in English, as well as more recent and authoritative ones like the massive Cambridge History of China. However, she flounders badly in the second section ("Confusion, Reunification and Golden Age", AD 220-907) and never makes it out of the confusion. The text in this section is peppered with factual inaccuracies and errors in translation that can only be blamed on general ignorance. While struggling with the emperors of the Southern Dynasties, she ignores those of the concurrent Northern Dynasties, sparing only two pages to comment on socio-economic developments in the North. The rulers of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms receive equally sparse attention. The superficial quotations that she has selected from Western sources betray the same lack of depth in examining the historical record.

It would be unfair to single out Ann Paludan for lack of scholarship, however, because the ages of fragmentation from AD 189-589 and 907-979 suffer from a miserable dearth of research among Western historians of China. Paludan apparently had only three sources in English to go upon, none published within the last 20 years. Sadly, one of them is the famous but thoroughly mythologised "Romance of the Three Kingdoms", the author of which she characteristically names as Zhong Luo Guan rather than Luo Guanzhong. She parrots that novel's popular perception of the Three Kingdoms as "the golden age of chivalry and romance", without any attempt to compare this with historical reality.

From here, everything goes downhill, because the Cambridge History volume on the 220-589 period has yet to be published. Paludan, probably referring to the primary sources, fails completely to get her facts and names right, translating "Prince of Yingyang" as "Sun King of Ying", for example, and referring to his replacement by an "older" half-brother when that brother was in fact younger. For that matter, Paludan bothers to give us the Chinese characters for the temple names and reign titles of the various emperors, but not their actual names (not even in romanized form, in many cases). One would think the reader is just as much interested to know the name an emperor was born with.

The later chapters from Tang to Qing are rather more credible, but readers would do better to read the (still incomplete) Cambridge History and F.W. Mote's "Imperial China 900-1800" for the same information in greater detail and accuracy. Sadly, a proper history of the chaotic period from AD 189 to 589, imperial China's longest ever period of inter-regional war, has yet to be written for English-speaking readers (David A. Graff's recent "Medieval Chinese Warfare, 300-900 AD" has gone some way towards filling that gap in the political and military aspects). Beyond brief excursions into the then-rising religions of Buddhism and Daoism, Ann Paludan does not even begin to do justice to its fascinating complexities. ... Read more


15. Kids Like Me in China
by Ying Ying Fry, Amy Klatzkin, Brian Boyd, Terry Fry
list price: $18.00
our price: $14.40
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0963847260
Catlog: Book (2001-11-01)
Publisher: Yeong & Yeong Book Company
Sales Rank: 19462
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In this first view of China adoption from a child's perspective, eight-year-old Ying Ying Fry returns to her orphanage to remember what it is like and to write a story so that other adopted children will understand where they came from. Kids Like Me in China combines real-life photos with the forthright observations and complex feelings of an adopted child as she meets caregivers and befriends children in the city where her life began. This book will inspire all adopted children to take charge of their own life stories.

Eight-year-old Ying Ying Fry is a Chinese American girl growing up in San Francisco. But her story didn't begin there. Like lots of kids she knows, Ying Ying spent her first months in China--in a birth family she cannot remember and an orphanage in Changsha, Hunan province, where her American parents adopted her when she was a tiny baby.

When Ying Ying goes back to visit Changsha, she can't wait to see her orphanage caregiver--someone who knew her and loved her when she lived in China. Meeting Li Ayi is just the beginning, as Ying Ying discovers points of connection with all the orphanage children--babies, toddlers and school-age kids. Outside the orphanage she visits children at home, at playgrounds and at school, and these friendships too help her see her life story in a new light. A child of two countries, Ying Ying is determined to claim both as her own.

Kids Like Me in China combines real-life photos with the forthright observations and complex feelings of an adopted child as she ponders what her early life might have been like. The first view of China adoption from a child's perspective, Kids Like Me will inspire all adopted children to take charge of their own life stories. ... Read more

Reviews (21)

5-0 out of 5 stars An Excellent book for adoptive parents and their children!
I purchased KIDS LIKE ME IN CHINA shortly after seeing it displayed at our local Chinese New Year's Party. Although my daughter is not quite 20 months old yet, I have already begun reading this book to her, and showing her the wonderful pictures.

Ying Ying has been gracious enough to share her story with us, which in many ways will be the stories of many of our daughter's from China. As our daughter grows, she will be able to learn about how she came to be in our family, and with Ying Ying's help, she will be better able to understand her story through the eyes of a young girl. I highly recommend this book to anyone thinking of adoption from China, or if you already have your daughter, this book will be an excellent way to talk about China and relate their personal stories. The pictures are wonderful also, the babies in the orphanages are all so precious, and Ying Ying's feelings are so open and real as she travels back to where her story began. This book was a MUST HAVE for our daughter's library!

5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!
I cannot say enough about this book, especially for parents who have adopted from China. I bought this book for my daughter Rachel, sight unseen, because I knew that Ying Ying Fry was from the same city in China as my daughter Rachel. It is an understatement to say that I was shocked and surprised to learn that not only are they both from the same orphanage, but my daughter's picture actually appears in the book! (the pics for the book were taken one month before we travelled to adopt our daughter). It's great to have a book to share with Rachel about her city, about her first year of life, that is written by a child for children! If you have any connection to the Chinese adoption process, you must have this book!

5-0 out of 5 stars It sounds excellent!!!
By accident, i found this site! I am Chinese and my English teachers (They are a couple)were from the US. They also adopted a girl named Evie Xuezhi Braun from Changsha just the same city as Ying Ying.I was really moved by their adoptive actions when I heard they had no kids and wanna adopt a Chinese orphan. I can still remember the time they saw me off when I started for Shanghai to work there after my graduation.Evie was also there with her American Parents. I really wanna recommand this book to them. It sounds helpful to them and Evie. But we are all in China. I can't get the book~but I will tell them the name of this great book!! Thanks for your Americans' kindness!!! Many Thanks!!!

5-0 out of 5 stars A must-read for families adopting from China
Ying Ying Fry has written a poignant book of her family's return visit to the orphanage where she spent the first months of her life. The book provides readers a unique opportunity to view life in a Chinese orphanage, as well as Ying Ying's own thoughts on being adopted, and the cultural reasons behind the abandonment of so very many babies, mostly females. The pictures are beautiful, and her writing is both honest and insightful. Besides being incredibly educational for adoptive parents, it is an ideal resource for introducing any child to the concept of international adoption. We are in the process of adopting a baby girl from the same orphanage featured in the book, which made it all the more touching for us to read. I look forward to sharing it with our daughter someday.

5-0 out of 5 stars An important resource
As an adult Korean adoptee and the author of a memoir about my own adoption experience, I was excited to read "Kids Like Me In China." This book is extremely well written and serves as an important resource for adoptive parents and their children. I only wish a book such as this one would have been available when I was a child growing up in Salt Lake City - often feeling like I was the only Asian and the only adopted person in the whole world. How wonderful that today's children can hear about the adoption experience - told with warmth, curiosity and honesty - from one of their peers, as well as see their faces reflected in the beautiful photographs throughout the book. ... Read more


16. Legacies: A Chinese Mosaic
by BETTE BAO LORD
list price: $19.00
our price: $19.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0449906205
Catlog: Book (1991-07-20)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Sales Rank: 159039
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Book Description

Urgent and timeless, Legacies brings us closer than we have ever been to penetrating the great conundrum of China m the twentieth century. It could only have been written by Bette Bao Lord -- born in China, raised in America, author of the bestselling novel Spring Moon, wife of a former American ambassador to China, resident in Beijing during the "China Spring" of 1989. Lord's unique web of relationships and her sensitive insight have enabled her to observe Chinese life both high and low, Communist and dissident, intellectual and ordinary.

Lord interweaves her own story, and that of her clansmen, with the voices of men and women who recall the tumultuous experience of the last fifty years, and the legacy of the Cultural Revolution. In precise, subtle prose, Lord explores the reality of Red Guards and reeducation camps, of friends and families severed by political disgrace, and captures the individual voices of those caught up in them: the seven-year-old girl with a heart full of hate for her father; the journalist whose girlfriend believes the Party newspapers, not him; the imprisoned scholar who hid his writings in his quilt for years; the anti-revolutionary who tells his bitter story in a vein of high farce. All bear heartbreaking witness to the surreal quality of Chinese society today -- and to the astonishing resilience, humor, and heroic equanimity of the Chinese spirit. ... Read more


17. The Girl from Purple Mountain : Love, Honor, War, and One Family's Journey from China to America
by May-Lee Chai, Winberg Chai
list price: $24.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312268084
Catlog: Book (2001-06-01)
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Sales Rank: 732257
Average Customer Review: 3.38 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The Girl from Purple Mountain is a true story of love, betrayal, and healing set against the shifting tides of 20th century China. It begins with a mystery: The Chai family matriarch, Ruth Mei-en Tsao Chai, dies unexpectedly and her grieving husband discovers that she had secretly arranged to be buried alone-rather than in the shared plots they had purchased together years ago. Faced with this inexplicable situation, he decides that if he cannot lie next to his bride in death, he will buy a plot on the outskirts of her mausoleum and act as her guardian for all eternity. Such is his great love for his wife.

For many years, Ruth's family remained shocked by her decision and could not begin to fathom her motivations. Over time, they would fully understand her extraordinary story. Ruth was born in China at the beginning of the 20th century, during the reign of the last emperor. Educated by American missionaries, she was one of the first women admitted into a Chinese university, during an era when most Chinese women were illiterate and had bound feet. She would defy tradition and refuse to marry the man her family had chosen for her, instead choosing his younger brother as her husband. Later, as the Japanese Army advanced across China during World War II, her foresight and quick thinking kept her family alive as she, her husband, and their three sons were forced to flee from city to city. In war-torn Chungking, she was Lady Mountbatten's interpreter as the Allies struggled to help China. After the war, the Chais immigrated to the U.S. to what seemed, until Ruth's death, a happier and more peaceful life.

In this extraordinary and moving family epic, Ruth's first-born son, Winberg, and his daughter May-lee explore family history to reconstruct her life as they seek to understand her fateful decision. As Winberg writes: "It is my duty to try to understand my mother, to seek answers. To ignore the past is too much like forgetting...I hope my memories are enough to fulfill a son's obligations." ... Read more

Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Girl From Purple Mountain: A book to love
This memoir is told from two points of view: a father/daughter writing team. For memoir fans, this unique writing approach alone makes the book a must-read. The two voices are separated by chapters, so it's easy to keep the voices straight. The father's writing style is particularly humorous, the daughter most often provides historical context. The writing team takes care to clarify their memories, commenting on each other's intrepretations, providing insight not only into their story but the workings of human memory itself. The story is compelling, fascinating and engaging. I learned about this family and about China. This is a great book!

5-0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Historical Read
I strongly disagree with the previous reviewers who slammed this book. Every memoir is intrinsically biased: that is the very essence of autobiographical writing, to tell a story from a unique perspective. Those familiar with 19th and 20th Chinese history will no doubt be amazed by the achievements of the Chai family and will apreciate the historical tie-ins.

5-0 out of 5 stars A good read!
There isn't much mystery to the plot, nor it explicitly explained why Ruth changed her burial decision. However, it's packed with Chinese culture, details of what life was like in China, the political movements, etc.. I recommend this book strongly to any one who would like to learn more of the Chinese culture/history, specially to the ABCs (America born Chinese).

3-0 out of 5 stars Not Bad, Not Great - Just OK
This book is not a page turner. However, there was just enough there that I wanted to read it to the end. Get some closure, perhaps.

I understand some of the criticism directed at this book. There are parts of it where the authors are simply making up events, but at least they outright tell you so; e.g., "Here is how I imagine my grandmother's suitor." I didn't find this irritating or annoying. Just awkward, for a biographical piece.

I was disappointed that there wasn't more to the "mystery." No climactic ending - for better or worse. In the end, this woman who had already left her husband twice, left him one final time because she could not overcome her bitterness and jealousies. She started as a modern Chinese woman full of spirit and energy, but ended up being someone old and spiteful. Someone who would hold a 30-40 year grudge. Someone who would disown her own son. How sad.

5-0 out of 5 stars Redeeming the Past: A Father and Daughter Remember
I had real reservations about this book. A woman who would go out of her way to make sure she was not buried next to her husband seemed to me to be less than worthy of my time. I didn't like her. I want to read about someone with whom I can form some identity. I looked at this book several times at the bookstore and passed it up. Then a friend handed it to me and told me to read it.

I have always said that some of the best books I have read have come as an interruption to what I was "supposed" to be reading. This book is one of them. The introduction on the dust jacket describes a woman who makes a secret arrangement to be buried alone in a mausoleum. The book seeks to understand and explain this unusual behavior. But I didn't want to understand. I am tired of caring why strange people do strange things. Such an act seemed unheroic. But something completely unexpected happened to me as I read this book. I was prepared to hear an elaborate excuse by the writer for why her grandmother did what she did. I had concluded that I could never identify with such a person. But I was completely unprepared for the extent to which I identified with the writer herself.

We are worlds apart. Literally. She grew up in America. I was born in Tokyo, and I grew up in the northern part of Japan. My parents were American missionaries, who went to Japan as volunteers after World War II. My grandparents came from Norway. I do not look Japanese. Not at all. Throughout my childhood, I was always a foreigner. Gaijin. Nevertheless, I am a child of Asia.

When my parents took me to America at the age of 13, I had serious misgivings about that new country. We moved to a small town in Minnesota, about as far removed as it is possible to be (both culturally and geographically) from the place that had been my home. I forgot Japanese. But through all the years I have lived in America, I have never forgotten the strange feeling I had when I came to that small Midwestern town and tried to fit into a world where I knew nothing about anything, even though I was a native speaker of English.

This book is about a woman who hated her father, and the ripple effect that this bitterness had over three generations. But it is written by a woman who loved her father, and with whom, in spite of clear generational differences, she was able to collaborate on a book about, of all things, relationships.

The book is written by May-lee with her father, Winberg. It is about Ruth and Charles-her grandparents, his parents. Charles adores his wife, but he is forever the unfortunate recipient of the unresolved rage she feels for her father. In that sense, Charles is a pathetic figure. He really can't do anything right. But, Ruth, of course, is more pathetic. She epitomizes in every way the Biblical injunction, "Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled (Hebrews 12:15)." The whole book reverberates with the effect this root of bitterness has on the whole family.

But there is a unique redemptive quality to this book that took me quite by surprise. You see, in writing the story of her grandmother, especially in writing this story with her father, May-lee "redeems" her grandmother, because she displays all the qualities that I can now imagine Ruth probably had and would have displayed if she had not been so eaten up with hatred for her father. The cover of the book shows a picture of Ruth and Charles at the time of their marriage. But I wasn't paying attention. Somehow I had it that this was a picture of the father-daughter team that wrote the book. So, as I was reading this book, I thought the pretty lady on the cover was the author. For me, Ruth became May-lee, and Charles became Winberg. At least for awhile. Then I caught on. But the initial impression never left. In a very real sense, May-lee became what her grandmother, unbound, would have been. And there is tremendous power in the way she gently prods her father to recover his past. It's all very unusual-you see, even though the book is not really supposed to be about May-lee herself, she becomes, in writing the book, the heroine of the story.

This is a book with heart. Read it. Then give it to someone else. Make this world a better place by reading, and encouraging others to read what will surely be one of the most life-enriching books you have encountered. ... Read more


18. On Gold Mountain : The One-Hundred-Year Odyssey of My Chinese-American Family
by LISA SEE
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679768521
Catlog: Book (1996-08-27)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 61259
Average Customer Review: 4.33 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Out of the stories heard in her childhood in Los Angeles's Chinatown and years of research, See has constructed this sweeping chronicle of her Chinese-American family, a work that takes in stories of racism and romance, entrepreneurial genius and domestic heartache, secret marriages and sibling rivalries, in a powerful history of two cultures meeting in a new world. 82 photos. ... Read more

Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly honest and well presented, unusually good read
I must admit that I was a little (all right, very) skeptical when I first saw this book several years ago. I resisted buying or reading it only because I didn't believe that a part-Chinese (1/8 to be precise)American could do a good job in telling the story of "the" Chinese-American experience. In many ways, I was stereotyping the idea of what Chinese-American is. I was thinking of a Chinese-American as one who is ethnically 100% Chinese but is culturally American and that would preclude someone like See. Well, I was wrong. This author, Lisa See, convinced me that her family story is truly a Chinese-American one. No, let me rephrase, her story is an "American" one.

Now that I've read and enjoyed the book, I am especially surprised, pleasantly, at how honest and real her portrayal of the characters are. I know these are real people and the stories are real but to me their stories read like fairy tales an so they become characters. Their stories are so unusual that had See not done such a good job in writing it, they would have been unbelievable.

One of the reasons that it is a really good book is the way the author presented the facts -- with stories and photographs. It is a well documented, well researched, and well written book.

I could also attest to the veracities of the historical events and personal dramas that were described in the book because my own family's history had very many of the same events, trials and tribulations are similar to hers. And since I do read and speak Chinese and I am knowledgable about the customs of the Southern China district where her great-grandfather came from, I can also say that her description of the cultures (including family practices, language, etc...) are extremely accurate. And they are accurate not to the point of patronizing or insulting, but straight forward in the way it happened. This style of writing I admired enormously.

I think Ms. See did a great service not only to her own family, but to the Chinese-American experience as well. This book really does serve as a documentary to all of the Chinese American immigrants who had come to the country in the last 100 years or more. It is a record of history. It can probably be used as text book for a history class.

The book is well written in many ways. One of the way is that is very personal and yet readable, even for people not from her family. It is about people, culture, history, family, love, triumph, politics, business, relations, and much more. I highly recommend it.

4-0 out of 5 stars A beautiful epic love story set in historical background..
As a Chinese American myself, I've read "China Boy" (Gus Lee) and Joy Luck Club (Amy Tan) before picking up this book without too much expectation, what happened next was two days of non-stop reading, after the first few pages, I simply couldn't put it down, the pages turned themselves.

As a Chinese American myself, I've read "China Boy" (Gus Lee) and Joy Luck Club (Amy Tan) before picking up this book without too much expectation, what happened next was two days of non-stop reading, after the first few pages, I simply couldn't put it down, the pages turned themselves.

At the center of it, there was the meandering main plot of Fong See and Ticie See's beautiful and complex interracial love story
spanning three quarter of a century with cultural, traditions, prejudices (on both sides) racism, entrepreneurship, minority immigrant experience weaving together to form a compelling and surprisingly optimistic epic and quintessential "American" story.

All through the book, author's family pride, heartwarming optimism comes through like a ray of sunshine lighting up the struggles, the failures and failings, the successes as well as heart wrenching losses of three generations illuminating the See family's incredibly enduring love and support for each other.

The only thing that could've made this book even better is some of the extraneous details could've been left out, they were a little long winded (especially the last scene of Lisa's visit to China) and at times distracting from the main plot. But I understand what Ms. See was trying to accomplish with this book are two fold, first and foremost it is an autobiographic family history book and there is the temptation to include all the researched details to preserve as family history, on the other hand she probably wanted to write it in a novel style to make it an easy and enjoyable read. Short of split the writing into two books, there is no easy way to accomplish both objectives without two styles interfering, but I have to say Ms See has done an admirable if not remarkable job considering the epic nature of the story itself.

Ms. See deserves major accolades for this fascinating and moving historical book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Compelling family history of the See family
Born into a predominately Cantonese family, Lisa See is surprised when as a young girl, her chinese uncles point at her and describe "white ghosts, like you". Surprised, she realized she appeared white, but felt chinese. Surrounded by her older relatives, she listened to their stories and became determined to capture their memories. Approached by her elder female aunties, they expressed a desire to document the family history. As the primary family members became aged, Lisa took up the rewarding challenge to pen the history of the incredible See family.

This is truly a beautiful book. Ms. See has an obvious talent for research and her efforts were rather astonishing when one reads the history of her ancestors. Not only does she historically account for chinese immigration to the states, but details the events and cultures of life in China. Tracing back to the time of her grandfather See-Bok's early years, Ms See writes about her family that turns out to be more than a page turner.

The family is entertaining, intelligent, strong and industrious. Her grandmother is the star of the novel. A pioneer white christian woman, she is abused by her own family and escapes a life of servitude forced on her by them. In a central californian town, she talks herself into a job at a chinese underwear factory that caters to prostitutes. The chinese owner eventually proposes to her despite significant social complications. This is the beginning of one of the most important chinese families in America and their contributions to the art world and their personal tales of challenge and love in the early Los Angeles years.

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting, well written book
I had to read this for a history class, and I was surprised that it was quite enjoyable. Usually the novels that are picked for a history class are slow, monotonous and dull. I could relate to the feelings of the more recent generation of children where they have a traditional asian background but grew up in American society. This book makes me want to go out and research my own family and put it all together in a book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Family as Fodder for Nonfiction
I read "Gold Mountain" because I am a novelist who has used her family as the basis for my work. I wanted to compare technique.

See's book is based on stories about her own family; it is full of characters who are as big as life because they are drawn from life. There is a grandfather who is, well, a deadbeat. There is a Caucasion woman and Chinese man who fall in love at a time when society was not as forgiving as it now is. There are successes and failures.

See succeeds admirably because she does not dance on egg shells. She tells the story as she sees it. That includes the part about how her family had entered the USA illegally, an aspect of that family's history that is still uncomfortable for them.

Great stories are stories that are told honestly. Lisa See succeeds admirably.

(Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of the award-winning novel, "This is the Place." It is a coming-of-age story based on her own family's history. That history was deeply rooted in tales of the pioneers and their own genealogy.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of "This is the Place" ... Read more


19. Paper Daughter : A Memoir
by M. Elaine Mar
list price: $13.00
our price: $9.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060930527
Catlog: Book (2000-08-01)
Publisher: Perennial
Sales Rank: 261019
Average Customer Review: 3.97 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

When she was five years old, M. Elaine Mar and her mother emigrated from Hong Kong to Denver to join her father in a community more Chinese than American, more hungry than hopeful.

While working with her family in the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant and living in the basement of her aunt's house, Mar quickly masters English and begins to excel in school. But as her home and school life--Chinese tradition and American independence--become two increasingly disparate worlds, Mar tries desperately to navigate between them.

Adolescence and the awakening of her sexuality leave Elaine isolated and confused. She yearns for storebought clothes and falls for a red-haired boy who leads her away from the fretful eyes of her family. In his presence, Elaine is overcome by the strength of her desire--blocking out her family's visions of an arranged marriage in Hong Kong.

From surviving racist harassment in the schooIyard to trying to flip her straight hair like Farrah Fawcett, from hiding her parents' heritage to arriving alone at Harvard University, Mar's story is at once an unforgettable personal journey and an unflinching, brutal look at the realities of the American Dream.

... Read more

Reviews (34)

5-0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed it tremendously & highly recommend it.
This is a book for everyone.

Richly descriptive, bravely revealing, and intensely engaging, M. Elaine Mar's writing has the remarkable effect of bringing the reader right inside her own feelings and senses, as if to experience her story firsthand.

Its touching vignettes from a family life so infused with both love and pain; its thoughtful depiction of the experience of a working-poor, first-generation immigrant family in modern U.S. society; and its revealing account of a young girl's struggle for identity in world filled with contradictions, are what make this book worth reading.

While I might agree that Ms. Mar doesn't bring everything to a tidy resolution at the end, I'm compelled to point out that this is a memoir, not fiction. Who among us does have everything resolved in life? This book - - as with life - - is more about the journey than the destination.

I enjoyed Paper Daughter tremendously, I wholeheartedly recommend it, and I look forward to more from this author.

5-0 out of 5 stars Paper Daughter is a beautiful and nuanced book about family.
Paper Daughter is a rich memoir of cultures crossing, as many reviewers have noted. It is also a valuable addition to the literature of class in America. But I find it has stayed with me most of all as a story about family, and especially about the terrible love that connects so many of us with our parents.

Mar's rendering of her early childhood in Hong Kong is beautiful, capturing the satisfaction of a child who feels safe, known, and well-cared-for; she describes her family's meager resources with care and no rancor, making clear that for her, the world was rich and complete. One of my favorite images in a long time is of little Man Yee arriving at school asleep, snuggled up against her mother's back for the walk there. And if there is one moment of plain peace in this novel, it is when Mar, having completed with her mother the arduous and anxious journey from Hong Kong, is reunited with her father at the airport. Nuzzling against him as heart contracted and released. This was my father, and he remembered me."

What felt to a little girl like an idyll for her family, one room in a crowded walk-up with uncertain plumbing, was of course not really tenable, and her parents were compelled to make the choices they did. And surely even if Mar's American acculturation had not divided her so painfully from her parents, something else would have. Who among us has not, at some time, looked around at her family, no matter how valued, and felt herself a stranger in a strange land? (After a recent reading from Paper Daughter, Elaine Mar told the audience that she believes that when she and her mother speak Chinese, she understands almost 100 percent of what her mother says, but her mother only understands about 70 percent of what Elaine says. Thinking of myself and my own mother, I thought "yep, that's about right," even though both my mother and I are native English speakers.)

Mar's is a classically American story, of upward class mobility and the distance it puts between a young woman and her immigrant parents. But in spite of its honest treatment of an isolation so overpowering it sometimes made her nearly suicidal, Paper Daughter is nevertheless a novel infused with loyalty, love, and humor. Mar's appreciation for detail, and especially for the contours of the heart's many hungers, helps her paint a picture in which every face holds beauty and sorrow.

There is no love more intense than the one that ties us to the parents who raise us, and there is no chasm deeper than the one that opens up between those parents and ourselves. We fight with each other desperately, perhaps just to keep from letting go altogether. In Mar's family, poverty, fear, and displacement added intolerable stress to the mix, as they do for too many families. Her parents feel she can never appreciate their sacrifices, and truly it seems that they can't understand her suffering either. Yet from this impasse Elaine Mar has created a book that honors both.

1-0 out of 5 stars Eh, no big deal
I read somewhere that the events in a person's life are only interesting to that person. So true in this case. Yeah, yeah, Asian girl picked on my American classmates. Asian girl must learn proper American table manners. blah blah blah. The flowery, overly-detailed descriptions were lame and contrived. It could have been a good story if it wasn't so full of self-pity and a narcissistic attitude. Poor child, auntie won't hug her. Poor dear, she can't date outside her ethnic background. It seems more like the diary of a confused and angry adolescent. Now, Amy Tan, that's an interesting writer!

5-0 out of 5 stars An Engrossing Memoir
The book opens with a sensuous description of a Hong Kong child eating chicken bones, crushing them between her teeth to release the clotted marrow within. The author later contrasts this earthy and primal experience with the manner in which Americans eat fried chicken, delicately nibbling away from the bone, oblivious to the rich marrow within. I found this broad metaphor thought-provoking, contrasting the sterility of American suburban life with the riotous, crowded Hong Kong environs where the author lived her earliest years.

I was very impressed with the sensual detail in the book, the descriptions of textures and scents hinting of mystery, such as the jars of dried mushrooms and spices that her mother stored in the tiny room that was the author's first home.

The criticism that many reviewers have expressed is that the memoir fails to be reflective. I did not find that to be the case. I prefer to have the author use metaphor and selectiveness of memory to present her view, as she deftly does, than to read pages of exposition detailing why she felt her mother treated her coldly. I believe the author is trusting to the intelligence of the reader to puzzle out the motivations of each character. It would be less than artful to be as obvious as some readers apparently wish.

That said, I did not always sympathize with the author, especially as she grew into adolescence and became increasingly disrespectful of her parents. However, it took courage for the author to sometimes portray herself in a less than attractive manner. One was left to wonder if her adolescent angst would have been similar if she had never left Hong Kong.

I felt the memoir's legitimate focus was her childhood and formative years. Some have expressed the wish that the author would have continued, describing her college years in greater detail. I disagree, as that would have moved the story away from the focus on family. Family is used to define the author throughout the memoir; as she seperates from her family, the story ends. Therefore, I found the break logical.

My one criticism would be that it is slightly facile to believe that a Harvard education somehow has elevated the author beyond her family. The first severing was one of language. Education was secondary. I disliked the implication that the education she strove for somehow delivered her from an intolerable life. The author seemed to be overly impressed with herself for being accepted into Harvard, as if this were the grandest achievement attainable. She also failed to criticize, or if she did, it was too subtle for my tastes, the adolescent mentalities and delusions of genius, which were apparently common amongst the students at the Cornell summer program she attended. Nor could I tell if she felt the psychiatrist who interviewed her for the program was rather pompous and shallow, as I did. My assumption, though, is that the author has chosen to leave this unsaid and that this scene was yet another instance of her trying to fit into one sub-group or another, posing as an intellectual rather than as a typical American teenager.

The author progresses from dutiful Chinese daughter, to bewildered immigrant, to essential interlocutor for her family, to sullen teenager, to burgeoning "intellectual". I felt that most of these transitions were beautifully described and that the varying experiences and motivations of the different family members contributed greatly to the richness of the story. I was a little off-put by her eventual move to Cambridge and Harvard, because I felt that the author's motivations were more about belonging to an "elite" group and progressing socially than any educational goals. However, my opinion is belied by the elegant and moving memoir that she later wrote, which implies that her maturity has progressed greatly beyond the last stage described in the book, that of a self-centered teenager eager to break from her family.

Overall, I found this memoir to be very worthwhile reading.

3-0 out of 5 stars Unexceptional
Mar's memoir may be a better read for someone not accustomed to reading about the Chinese-American immigrant experience, but those well-read in the field are unlikely to be impressed. Mar does not use hindsight to explain things that confused her in her childhood, such as the significance of speaking Toisan instead of proper Cantonese. Her childhood experiences are not so different from those of American-born Chinese, or frankly of smart children in general. Her experience with the joy of being around other smart kids is more closely tied with the "smart" experience than the "immigrant" experience. And her tango with anorexia, along the same vein, has more to do with the "type-A female" experience then with the immigrant experience. Overall, this book is a good memoir of one woman's life, but there are too many ideosyncratic facets for this to tout itself as a good representation of the modern Chinese immigrant experience in America. ... Read more


20. Gang of One: Memoirs of a Red Guard (American Lives Series)
by Fan Shen
list price: $24.95
our price: $15.72
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0803243081
Catlog: Book (2004-02-01)
Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Sales Rank: 43101
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Must Read
Here is more enlightenment on the Cultural Revolution in China. This personal story highlights how impossible that time was for Chinese in China. Even devoutly following party guidelines did not keep one safe from the chance of being a target of the political crazy making. This book is an enjoyable read from start to finish; a short book without a dull momment. I will remember this book out of the many I have read as contributing to my own personal development. A friend of mine has the book now, and I expect to continue to loan this book often. Thanks to Fan Shen for sharing his memoirs. My dream is that this book would benefit many more individuals in comparison to the number that have been hurt by the Cultural Revolution (impossible).

5-0 out of 5 stars An Inspiring Story, Very Enjoyable
This is a quiet story, but very inspiring and moving. I also liked the clever play of Lao Tzu's wisdom on the meaning of life that the author used as titles of each section. I know more people will enjoy reading this book. Mary

5-0 out of 5 stars A Good Story to Share with Friends
A friend in my bookclub recommended "Gang of One" and we all read the book with great interest. The story, though disturbing at times, is deeply moving and we had a heated discussion of the book after reading it. I hope more people will read this story. Sharon from Miami, Florida

5-0 out of 5 stars A Truly Inspiring Story!
The story reads like a serialized novel and I just could not put it down. I was deeply moved by the struggle of the character and would recommend this book to anyone who has struggled through life.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Most Enjoyable Book!
Anyone interested in a true and inspiring story will certainly like this one. "Witty, humane, a page turner"--Philip Gambone, Harvard University. "Shocking and astounding"--Publishers Weekly. ... Read more


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