Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang

3 out of 5 stars

Qian Julie Wang arrived in America in 1994 at the age of seven and has gone from being a privileged and relatively wealthy family in China to a family below the poverty line. They moved because of persecution by the state and t life that she knew there, she would never know again.

She couldn’t speak a word of English when she arrived and her parents were forced to work in the sweatshops of the city just to be able to survive. They lived hand to mouth, avoiding all people in authority with the hope of beginning a new life there. She is a bright girl and she is quick to learn the language, but most of the children in her class shun her, so she loses herself in between the pages of books.

Staying out of the gaze of the authorities isn’t easy though, and the family have some close calls, none more so when her mother is taken really ill. The family reached a point where not doing anything will cost her life and if they do seek help, it could fracture the family completely.

This is an interesting account of a girl growing up in America as an illegal immigrant. She somehow manages to find a path through childhood and has to grow up really quickly to be able to help her parents. It is quite a sad read in lots of ways, they were taken advantage of by all sorts of people and made to work for a pittance. Somehow they found a path through and this book is the result of her tenacity and desire to work for a top law firm in New York.

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  1. Liz Dexter

    This looks like a really important book and something I’ve not read before about someone from China.

    • Paul

      I can’t remember who recommended it on Twitter to me, but I am glad they did. It is good to have an insiders view of immigration

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