Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang
Release Date - September 7, 2021
Oh did my heart break for Qian, the author of Beautiful Country. Young Qian and her family immigrated, albeit illegally, from China in the 1980s. Her parents, both college professors, were forced to teach the government's way or suffer the consequences. Eventually, their only choice became to leave the country and try to start anew in the U.S.
In New York City, the family faced unimaginable conditions. Forced to work in sweatshops and live in overly crowded apartments, the stress gets to Qian's parents. Life in the "Beautiful Country" isn't as wonderful as they'd hoped. To find the beauty, the family must face bigger struggles than imagined and figure out how to start life anew in a country that doesn't want to welcome immigrants.
This book is so beautifully written. While Qian is an adult now, she tells the story well through her thoughts as a child. The child who learns English by reading books and watching TV, and one who sees her parents at their absolute worst but still does all she can for them. How I wanted to reach into the book and hug this little girl. I was the pseudo-mom to some kids in my neighborhood growing up, and I would have gladly stocked Qian with books and snacks as often as possible.
I am so glad the family found happiness in Canada. At the same time, knowing the thoughts of some of those in my community on refugees and immigrants, I can't imagine it was easy for them as they finally made their way to a new place to call home. Let this book open your eyes and remember that that family you see walking down the street may not have it as easy as you'd like to think.