Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Beautiful Country

A heartbreaking and emotional memoir about growing up in New York City as an undocumented child in poverty. Qian and her parents worked in different sweatshops and low paying jobs around Chinatown, anything to pay the bills. It was tough grueling work and her family was always hungry but at least they had each other. Her Ba Ba had fled China to escape being told what to say and how to feel; he sought the freedom that America promised. A year later Qian and her mother followed to Mei Guo (Beautiful Country) and learned that here they weren't wealthy and educated; here they were undocumented and dirt poor. Qian recalls learning English through picture books and PBS, the joys (and embarrassment) of free school lunches, "shopping" in their neighborhood trash piles, and becoming her mom's most trusted confidant. New York promised so much, but as a poverty stricken child it was hard to appreciate. As Qian grew older she began to see snippets of the glittering New York City as portrayed in the movies and on TV; the magnificent Christmas display at the Rockefeller display, the magical treasure found in the trash of wealthy neighborhoods, the subway, and the joys of the New York City Public Library.  A coming of age memoir that readers won't be able to stop thinking about.

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