by Yang Huang
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I feel like I have unearthed another hidden gem! Living Treasures by Yang Huang is a beautiful tale of a young woman’s struggle for her own independence as well as the independence of the Chinese people from the brutal government control and abuse. Determined to become a lawyer and advocate for her people, Gu Bao attends university, but finds her sheltered world hasn’t prepared her for life on her own up close and personal with the unrest that is stirring among her fellow students. When a demonstration results in soldiers being called in, Bao meets a young soldier who steals her heart and her virginity. Confused, ashamed, yet craving this young man, she battles a war within between tradition and honor towards her family and the feelings she has for Tong. Forced to choose between her education, her goals and Tong after discovering she is pregnant, family pressure wins and she has an abortion, turning her back on the man she loves. Forced to recuperate in her grandparents’ very poor and very small village, Bao realizes how the weight of the government is truly crushing these hardworking people. It is time for Bao to do the right thing and stand up for those who are too afraid of the repercussions of such acts. Will it cost her re-kindled love with Tong? Will it cost her life? If she doesn’t take a stand, who will?
With so much beauty and wonder in China, it is hard to reconcile what the Chinese people must deal with on a daily basis. Bao’s character is conflicted, confused and determined to make a difference, while lacking the maturity to find a starting point, yet as the story progresses; her personal growth is like watching a flower slowly opening to its full brilliance. The patience and love exhibited by her grandparents is a thing of beauty to watch. Yang Huang has written a smooth and flowing work of art through words that showcase the inner turmoil of the characters. The vivid scenes that are described transport the reader from their reading chair to the magic and beauty of a country torn apart by corruption and the lust for power. When an author can deliver you across continents to witness the world they have created, they have done a masterful job of writing.
I received this copy from Harvard Square Editions in exchange for my honest review.