A memoir? It felt more like an adventure novel to me! Anchee Min, the author, comes to America on a student visa with $500 borrowed from an aunt and no English speaking skills whatsoever. Memorizing a “speech”, she convinces the Chinese government to give her a student visa to go to art school in the US. She is so terrified that they will interrupt her and ask her a question in English that she hurries through her prepared recitation and miraculously gets her visa. That’s when the adventure begins.
Ms. Min is 27 years old, in a foreign country and watching Sesame Street to learn English. Without a command of the English language she finds it hard to get a job, make friends, and keep up in her classes. She carries a dictionary with her wherever she goes and tries to look up every word the teacher writes on the blackboard.
She works very hard to make a life for herself in America with the ultimate goal of earning a green card. She pushes herself and lives on very little, even living in a storage closet to save money!
I was in awe of Ms. Min’s determination. As she becomes Americanized she still finds it hard to let go of the Chinese culture that is so deeply a part of who she is. At times I wanted to shake her and say “loosen up a little and enjoy life instead of working from sun up until sun down!” But all the hard work has payed off for Ms. Min as she is now the author of several best selling books. I really enjoyed this memoir that didn’t always read like a memoir. 4 stars
*Thank you Bloomsbury Press for sending me a copy to review