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A Beautiful Country



by
Qian Julie Wang

Edition
Hardcover edition
Publisher
Penguin Random House
Imprint
Doubleday (Adult)
ISBN
9780385547215
POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
Crime: Against Children , Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism , Language: Strong Language , Sexual Content: Mild Sexual Content/Themes , Social Issue: Harsh Realities of Life , Violence: Cruelty to Animals , Violence: Domestic/Physical Abuse
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The moving story of an undocumented child living in poverty in the richest country in the world—an incandescent debut from an astonishing new talent.

“Heartrending, unvarnished, and powerfully courageous, this account of growing up undocumented in America will never leave you."—Gish Jen, author of The Resisters.

In Chinese, the word for America, Mei Guo, translates directly to “beautiful country.” Yet when seven-year-old Qian arrives in New York City in 1994, she is overwhelmed by crushing fear and scarcity. In China, Qian’s parents were professors; in America, her family is “illegal” and it will require all the determination and small joys they can muster to survive.

In Chinatown, Qian’s parents work in sweatshops and sushi factories. Instead of laughing at her jokes or watching her sing and dance, they fight constantly. Qian goes to school hungry, where she teaches herself English through library books, her only source of comfort. At home, Qian’s headstrong and resilient Ma Ma ignores her own pain until she’s unable to stand, too afraid of the cost and attention a hospital visit might bring. And yet, young Qian, now acting as her mother’s nurse, her family’s translator, a student and a worker, cannot ask for help. The number-one rule in America still stands: To be noticed is to risk losing everything.

Searing and unforgettable, Beautiful Country is an essential American story about a family fracturing under the weight of invisibility, and a girl coming of age in the shadows, who never stops seeking the light.

POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
Crime: Against Children , Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism , Language: Strong Language , Sexual Content: Mild Sexual Content/Themes , Social Issue: Harsh Realities of Life , Violence: Cruelty to Animals , Violence: Domestic/Physical Abuse

Details

Format

Print

Page Count

320

Trim Size

9 3/10" x 6"

Dewey

B

AR

0: points 0

Genre

Fic

Scholastic Reading Counts

0

JLG Release

Dec 2021

Book Genres

Memoir

Topics

Qian Julie Wang (1987– ). Chinese Americans. Immigrants. Undocumented immigrants. Shijiazhuang Shi, China. Brooklyn, New York. New York City.

 


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Praise & Reviews

The Horn Book

In this powerful debut, Wang reflects on her childhood experiences as an undocumented immigrant. Her family traveled to the United States to escape communist rule in China when she was seven years old. The family settled in Manhattan's Chinatown, where they experienced disillusionment and poverty as they worked exploitative jobs while fearing the ever-present threat of deportation. Wang tells her family's story from her then-perspective as a child who was attempting to understand her new life. She makes frequent comparisons to her life in China and the United States as she learns to navigate a new culture and language and finds solace in her small but powerful collection of books. Wang's relationship with her parents becomes complicated when their mental health becomes more fragile, and her mother's health declines. Finally, Wang's mother feels compelled to make a change that will alter the family forever. Wang doesn't gloss over the hardship and trauma she experienced as an undocumented immigrant in the United States. She movingly tells how undocumented families like hers are often overlooked and their experiences ignored. VERDICT A haunting memoir of people and places that will stay with readers long after the last page.-Rebekah Kati, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Praise & Reviews

The Horn Book

In this powerful debut, Wang reflects on her childhood experiences as an undocumented immigrant. Her family traveled to the United States to escape communist rule in China when she was seven years old. The family settled in Manhattan's Chinatown, where they experienced disillusionment and poverty as they worked exploitative jobs while fearing the ever-present threat of deportation. Wang tells her family's story from her then-perspective as a child who was attempting to understand her new life. She makes frequent comparisons to her life in China and the United States as she learns to navigate a new culture and language and finds solace in her small but powerful collection of books. Wang's relationship with her parents becomes complicated when their mental health becomes more fragile, and her mother's health declines. Finally, Wang's mother feels compelled to make a change that will alter the family forever. Wang doesn't gloss over the hardship and trauma she experienced as an undocumented immigrant in the United States. She movingly tells how undocumented families like hers are often overlooked and their experiences ignored. VERDICT A haunting memoir of people and places that will stay with readers long after the last page.-Rebekah Kati, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Grades 11 & Up
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Interests
Diversity,Mature Readers,LGBTQ+,Nonfiction,Biographies,History
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