Andrea reviews BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY by Qian Julie Wang, Doubleday Books, 978-0-385-54721-5, 305 pages. This particular title was recommended by one of my customers at Cordova Branch Library more than once. I am glad I finally took the time to read Wang’s memoir. (Thank you, CG)
Wang was born in China in 1987 and has wonderful memories of family, food, and being well taken care of by her professor parents, Ba Ba, Ma Ma, and other loved ones. Once the family arrives to New York in 1994, a seven year-old Qian is frightened, overwhelmed, and fearful they will be deported for any small infraction. Although Qian is filled with bravado, she is a joyless child who has loyalty only to her mother. Forced to memorize the mantra (in English) in case something, anything should happen, Qian is to recite “I was born here, and I’ve always lived in America.”
Telling her story in first person, readers will feel her pain and stress as she adjusts to an entirely new life and existence. Learning and eventually mastering the English by reading library books, Qian realizes she is destined for a greater life in America than her parents will ever achieve, despite their Chinese accomplishments.
Qian begins her journey in America as a scared, pitiful waif who hides in the shadows but soon realizes with more knowledge and education, she is seeking and actually basking in the light. Qian’s readers will be pleased to know she does achieve her childhood dream despite all the obstacles she had to overcome.
This is a truly inspirational story.