Publication Date: September 27, 2022
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An incandescent memoir that puts readers in the shoes of an undocumented child living in poverty in the richest country in the world.
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 full of curiosity, she is overwhelmed by scarcity and her own crushing fear. In China, Qian’s parents were professors; in America, her family is “illegal.” In Chinatown, Qian’s parents labor in sweatshops. Instead of laughing at her jokes, they fight constantly, taking out the stress of their new life on one another. Shunned by her classmates and teachers for her limited English, Qian takes refuge in the library and masters the language through books. And where there is delight to be found, Qian relishes it: her first bite of gloriously greasy pizza; weekly “shopping days,” when Qian finds small treasures in the trash lining Brooklyn’s streets; and a magical holiday visit to Rockefeller Center—confirmation that the New York City she sees in movies does exist after all.
Inhabiting her childhood perspective with exquisite lyric clarity and unforgettable charm and strength, Qian Julie Wang has penned 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.
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