Monday, July 9, 2012

An Ocean Apart, A World Away by Lensey Namioka

I am in the middle of "An Ocean Apart, a World Away", a book about a young Chinese girl from Nanjing who is torn between following her dream to become a medical doctor or running away with her brother's friend.

Yanyan is this young protagonist and she is quite the rebel during the late 1920s after the Cultural Revolution.
Her father is quite open minded because he had spent several years working in France and one of the English-speaking countries.
Her mother? Quite traditional especially with regards to matters like social etiquette for "proper" young ladies i.e. mixing around with boys, courtship and marriage.
Lucky for Yanyan, her mother tries to keep up with the times and change with them in support of her husband's modern ideas.

She also has two older brothers from whom she can get interesting discussions other than the usual topics for young Chinese ladies in that era. Can you believe that Chinese ladies from the upper class during that time spend most of their time playing mah jong and gossiping?

OMG... Anyway, I am now in the part where she is at the crossroads of her life: should she follow her heart and run off with the charismatic, handsome and exciting Liang Baoshu who is half a Manchurian? Or should she use her head, listen to her father's advice and reflect on her family's love to pursue her dream? By the way, this involves going to the US to live in a foreign land, eating "Western" food and learning a new culture...

I have not finished An Ocean Apart, a World Away but I find it an interesting read that looks at Chinese culture especially from a Northerner's perspective and a comparison with American culture.

Checking out her books on Amazon, I find that she's written some books for junior readers too. I wonder if I can find them anywhere in Asia at a reasonable price???

Also, I find it quite scary how many crazy and conflicting thoughts are racing through young people's minds even if they look impassive on the outside. You really never know what they are thinking!!!

I definitely want to find the first book, Ties That Bind, Ties That Break , which is about Yanyan's best friend who had her marriage engagement broken off because she refused to have her feet bound...

About the author Lensey Chao Namioka (simplified Chinese: 赵来思; traditional Chinese: 趙來思; pinyin: Zhào Láisī, born June 14, 1929, Beijing, China) is a children's book author and mathematician. (Source: Wikipedia)

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