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'Hunger was a constant, reliable friend in Mei Guo. She came second only to loneliness.'
In China she was the daughter of professors. In Brooklyn her family is illegal.
Qian is just seven when she moves to America, the 'Beautiful Country', where she and her parents find that the roads of New York City are not paved with gold, but crushing fear and scarcity. Unable to speak English at first, Qian and her parents must work wherever they can to survive, all while she battles hunger and loneliness at school. Thus begins an extraordinary story that describes, in vivid colours, days labouring in sweatshops and sushi factories, nights scavenging the streets for furniture, and the terrifying moment when the family emerges from the shadows to seek emergency medical treatment for Qian's mother.
Qian Julie Wang's memoir is an unforgettable account of what it means to live under the perpetual threat of deportation and the small joys and sheer determination that kept her family afloat in a new land. Told from a child's perspective, in a voice that is intimate, poignant and startlingly lyrical, Beautiful Country is the story of a girl who learns first to live - and then escape - an invisible life.
© Qian Julie Wang 2021 (P) Penguin Audio 2021
A powerful, gripping insight into the world of an undocumented migrant in New York . . . beautifully written, with vivid scenes that linger in the mind long after finishing it
Astonishing . . . In restrained but beautiful prose, Wang honours her family's sacrifices, but alerts us to the urgent realisation that they should not be necessary
Deeply compelling . . . I was moved by the love and resilience of this family thrust into darkness. The book casts an urgent light on a reality that extends way beyond America's borders
A story that needs to be heard. Moving, beautiful, heartbreaking and even funny . . . I never wanted it to end
Intricate and penetrating . . . a beautiful and hopeful read that also underlines what can truly happen to people who are simply seeking refuge
This beautifully expressed memoir of the immigrant experience charts her parents' struggles to survive as "illegals" in New York while their daughter battles hunger and loneliness at school, and is all the more moving for being related from a child's point of view
A vital and unforgettable read
Consider this remarkable memoir a new classic
A potent testament to the love, curiosity, grit, and hope of a courageous and resourceful immigrant child. Engaging readers through all five senses and the heart, Wang's debut memoir is a critical addition to the literature on immigration as well as the timeless category of childhood memoir
Heartrending, unvarnished, and powerfully courageous, this account of growing up undocumented in America will never leave you