Kay Bratt’s Favorites; China-Inspired books of 2015

Written by Kay on . Posted in Book Recommendations, China-Inspired Book Recommendations

I began this career as an author of China-inspired stories because I love to read them. I also like to share my favorites with others, who like me also enjoy entertainment combined with learning about other cultures. Give me a good story set in China, or some other Asian country, and you might as well send out a posse to find me because I’m going to be offline for a piece of time. So in case you missed it during the year, here are some of my favorite China-Inspired reads that I devoured in year 2015.

SusanKason

First on the list is a memoir called Good Chinese Wife, by Susan Blumberg-Kason. “Falling in love with a foreign culture can be a tempting love affair: one that gives you a chance to escape yourself and the constraints of your own upbringing. But when it goes wrong, it goes really wrong, as Susan Blumberg-Kason’s gripping memoir amply illustrates. GOOD CHINESE WIFE is a refreshing, painfully honest look at what happens when the mask of romance, both cultural and personal, is dropped, revealing the stranger beneath.” – Lisa Brackmann, author of the New York Times bestselling Ellie McEnroe series. You can get your copy [here.]

silk

 

Next is a book that will probably stay on my list of favorites for a very long time. The Girl Who Wrote in Silk is a story that pulled me in and kept me there until the very last pages. Even the summary is spellbinding and I find it amazing this this is a debut book by the author, Kelli Estes. If her first book is this good, I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

From the book page summary:

The smallest items can hold centuries of secrets…

Inara Erickson is exploring her deceased aunt’s island estate when she finds an elaborately stitched piece of fabric hidden in the house. As she peels back layer upon layer of the secrets it holds, Inara’s life becomes interwoven with that of Mei Lein, a young Chinese girl mysteriously driven from her home a century before. Through the stories Mei Lein tells in silk, Inara uncovers a tragic truth that will shake her family to its core — and force her to make an impossible choice.

Get your copy [here]

ghost bride

A hauntingly beautiful tale of one woman’s quest for answers as she tries to save her own future, The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo is culturally rich and sprinkled with just enough other-worldly details that you’ll find yourself enamored and pulled in enough not to let go until you find out what will become of the ghost bride.

From the book page summary:

After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim’s handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy–including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets–and the truth about her own family–before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.

Get your copy [here].

driven out

Next is a book I’ve been reading and re-reading for research as I am writing my next series. Driven Out by Jean Pfaelzer has opened my eyes to a part of American history that I never knew existed. You will be shocked, and then proud of how hard Chinese immigrants fought to claim their new lands.

From Amazon book page summary:

In Driven Out, Jean Pfaelzer sheds a harsh light on America’s past. This is a story of hitherto unknown racial pogroms, purges, roundups, and brutal terror, but also a record of valiant resistance and community. This deeply resonant and eye-opening work documents a significant and disturbing episode in American history.

Get your copy [here].

 And two favorites from years gone by, in case you don’t have them in your library I highly recommend you get them! daugher

Wild swans

And though I haven’t yet gotten a chance to read it, I can’t wait to dig into the newest by Mingmei Yip.

witch

“Inspiring, courageous story…Yip’s prose is simple yet descriptive, immersing the reader in the sights, sounds and smells of rural and urban China.” 
Booklist on Secret of a Thousand Beauties

Get your copy [here].

red

If you are looking for something poetic and lyrical, look no farther than Red Butterfly by A.L. Sonnichsen.

A young orphaned girl in modern-day China discovers the meaning of family in this inspiring story told in verse, in the tradition of Inside Out and Back Again and Sold.

Told in lyrical, moving verse, Red Butterfly is the story of a girl learning to trust her own voice, discovering that love and family are limitless, and finding the wings she needs to reach new heights. Get your copy [here] 

palest-ink-final

And of course I hope that if you haven’t yet grabbed your copy of my latest China-inspired book, you’ll consider reading The Palest Ink.

It comes in E-book, Hardcover, and Paperback and the print version is on sale at Amazon from Jan 12 – Feb 12!

The Palest Ink is a beautiful, moving, gripping, mesmerizing story of ordinary people caught in extraordinary circumstances. It is a story of bravery and honor, of love and compassion, as well as growing up and taking chances.

The Palest Ink is certainly the best novel I have read about Maoist China; simply superb!” —Fresh Fiction

Series_Set

And if you want to devour more than just one book of the same characters, feel free to sink into my best-selling series, The Tales of the Scavenger’s Daughters, for a story of love, loyalty, and family in modern day China. With over 2000 combined Amazon reviews, it has stolen hearts of readers from all around the world.

Get your copies [here]

The Palest Ink Celebration Giveaway!

Written by Kay on . Posted in China-Inspired Book Recommendations, Contests and Give-A-Ways

Ho Ho Ho!

To celebrate the release and fantastic launch of The Palest Ink

Palest Ink 3DI’m giving away FIVE Kindle Fires!

KindleFire

How do you enter?

1) Take a selfie of you holding a print or e-reader copy of The Palest Ink.  

(But in yours, make sure your face shows!)

iPad_mockup_1

2) Post your photos with the hashtag #ThePalestInk to [YOUR] Facebook, Twitter, and/or personal blogs.

You can post it to one or all three.

Each posting will equal one entry.

 

3) Comment below that you’ve done it and on which platforms so I can verify and add your entries to the spreadsheet

The fine print…

The photo must be a selfie of you with the cover of the print version or the cover page on your Kindle/eReader

Only entries to Facebook, Twitter, or personal blogs will count

Entries must use the hashtag #PalestInkGiveaway to qualify

Due to Cost of Shipping, Contest is only open to US and Canada recipients

Winner will receive an unregistered Kindle Fire and must register it to their own account

IRL friends and family members of  Kay Bratt are not qualified to win

Prize Details:  Kindle Fire, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB – Includes Special Offers, Black

4) Want to get 5 extra entries?

Here’s how:

Post a review on Amazon & GoodReads for The Palest Ink. (But only if you’ve read it!)

In a separate comment on this blog, post your name with a link to your review.

WINNERS WILL BE DRAWN ON  DECEMBER 10.

 

Edited on December 10 to add……And the winners are as follows:

Starla Germeraad

Tammy Leon

Kristin Hillukka

Debbie Udycz

Trish Coleman

Have you read all five books in the series? If not, I know what would make a wonderful gift this season to yourself, or another bookworm in your circle!

Series_Set

All Books in the Series also Available in Audio MP3 & CD for the Commuter in your Family!

TPI Audio

Order Now for A China-Love Christmas!

Written by Kay on . Posted in China News & Tidbits, China-Inspired Book Recommendations

christmasBall

If you or yours have a love for China, it’s time to get thinking about putting some China-love gifts under the tree.

Don’t wait too long…custom gifts take a lot of time and effort. Need some ideas?

Here are a few of Kay’s Favorite Things…

Ruffled Feathers Lydia Love dolls

The Lydia Love Dolls are always sweet to see in the arms of a little one.

$40 + $6 for shipping, contact Valerie Almquist @ Ruffled Feathers FB

Twins

You can sponsor a child in China, or give the gift of a donation in a loved one’s name! We all know I am obsessed with twins (I am one!) and I’ve sponsored these twins, Frances and Jack Robert, to give them the chance to experience life outside of an orphanage via foster care.

Go to Love Without Boundaries to learn more.

MeiMei

Custom charms from Jiayin Designs is a great gift for the younger or older ones,

… and the proceeds support Chinese Nationals doing purposeful work in China.

$55 each (must order by mid-Nov for customized characters).

Contact Kelly @ Jiayin Designs and see other ideas for China-inspired gifts there too!

red butterfly

For the middle-grade or older reader in the family, Amy Sonnichsen’s debut book, Red Butterfly, would make a lovely gift.

In Red Butterfly, A young orphaned girl in modern-day China discovers the meaning of family in this inspiring story told in verse.

Available here on Amazon.

ChinaHome

Adoption maps have gained popularity recently and I found one on Etsy you may be interested in.

$9.90 + shipping, click here.

CorolleDoll

Of course, we can’t ignore the sweetness of a soft Corolle doll!

At the time of this post, it’s 50% off on Amazon Prime at only $20.46!

Click here.

Palest Ink 3D sm

Lastly, I fully recommend if you have a bookworm in your family that you go ahead and hit the button to buy my latest release, The Palest Ink.

Available in a beautifully embossed hardcover edition, it would make a wonderful gift. You could even send it to me and I’ll autograph it and send it back!

(You pay shipping costs)

Kay’s best selling memoir, Silent Tears, a Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage, exposed the horrors of life behind the walls of a Chinese orphanage.

Now she returns with a thought-provoking novel set during the tumultuous Chinese Revolution.

The Palest Ink, a prequel to the beloved Tales of the Scavenger’s Daughters series, weaves a heart-rending story around actual events most of the world has no idea even transpired.

SeriesGraphic3

OR……you can buy the entire series and wrap them up with a pretty red bow!

Available on Amazon

 

China Ends One Child Policy but is it a Little Too Late?

Written by Kay on . Posted in China News & Tidbits

The Mothers’ Bridge of Love by Xinran  [Illustration by Josée Masse] Featured in Time Magazine’s Top Ten Children’s Books of 2007

The Mothers’ Bridge of Love by Xinran
[Illustration by Josée Masse]Featured in Time Magazine’s Top Ten Children’s Books of 2007

A Little Too Late?

 

While many around the world yesterday were surprised and pleased by the breaking news that China has scrapped its infamous one-child policy for a more relaxed two-child policy, others felt the impact in a much more personal sense.

As Jenni ‘Fang’ Lee, a young woman adopted from China put it, ‘how can something so political feel so personal’? Jenni is one of over seventy thousand adopted from China since the country opened its doors to international adoption decades ago. Many like Jenny were relinquished (a more accurate and compassionate word than abandoned) because of illnesses or disabilities their birth family could not financially support. But for those who were separated because of fear of the heavy fines and penalties a second child would bring—or even the loss of jobs or persecution of family members as punishment—today’s news is bittersweet.

Over thirty years ago the one-child-per-couple policy was launched with the idea that implementing a strict family planning policy was the only way to control the rising population of over a billion Chinese, and reach a goal of modernization by year 2000. Human rights groups have long claimed that the policy is directly responsible for the high numbers of abortions—those voluntary for sex-selection and those forced by family planning officials—which China has worked to keep hidden. Not as widely acknowledged was the subsequent issue of infanticide due to the long held belief that a newborn daughter is not as valuable to a family as a son, and if a couple could only have one child, a son it must be. Another repercussion of the policy has been the ever increasing gender imbalance, resulting in more illegal trafficking of women to villages and cities suffering from too many men and not enough women to marry.

But as of Thursday, October 28, many applaud the news that all Chinese couples will be allowed to have two children without fear of governmental repercussions.

‘”To promote a balanced growth of population, China will continue to uphold the basic national policy of population control and improve its strategy on population development,” Xinhua, China’s state run new agency reported, citing a communique issued by the ruling Communist Party. “China will fully implement the policy of ‘one couple, two children’ in a proactive response to the issue of an aging population.”’

But what about the damage already done? Does this change mean that many of that country’s undocumented ‘ghost’ children can now be claimed? Perhaps even given the coveted hukou legal identification that is required to attend school, receive medical care, travel, and even marry later in life? Or will those children who were already living in the shadows of a policy gone wrong be forced to remain there with ripples of their undeserved punishment passed down from generation to generation? *China’s 2010 census estimated that there are over 13 million people without the official documentation (hukou) that will enable them to move freely around China and live normal lives.

ghost child

As for how the changes will affect children still in orphanages across China, Amy Eldridge, Founder of Love Without Boundaries, an organization that supports orphans in China says, ‘”I know so many people were overjoyed at the news today that the one-child policy is officially being retired, but I honestly don’t anticipate any change in the often overwhelming needs of Chinese orphanages.”’

Amy makes a very valid point, as I look back and remember my years working as a volunteer in the orphanage and the fact that almost every child I met had some sort of disability or illness that was the catalyst for the separation from their biological family. Read more about my time there in my memoir, Silent Tears; A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage

Despite the harsh criticism of motive, and the outspokenness of those who say the government still has no business regulations how many children a couple can have, most of us can agree that this policy update is a positive step for the future of China’s social welfare system.

However, as the world acknowledges that China has taken a step in the right direction in the subject of human rights, we must not forget the adoptees around the world and those left undocumented in China, who because of the repercussions of a draconian-style edict such as the one-child policy, will forever wonder if this new change has come a little too late.

 

 

The Palest Ink by Kay Bratt! Now Available on Amazon!

Written by Kay on . Posted in Book Recommendations, China-Inspired Book Recommendations

Palest Ink 3D sm

I can’t believe after an entire year of researching, writing, editing, cutting, polishing, sweat and tears……it’s finally launch day for the book that my editor called my tour de force! Readers asked to know more about Benfu during the Cultural Revolution, and I’ve given it to them. Available as of today, you can order HERE at AMAZON! (bites fingernails in hopes that you all will like it!) Just in time to purchase the beautifully embossed hardcover to give as a holiday gift, too!

Want to know more about the story? Here you go….

A sheltered son from an intellectual family in Shanghai, Benfu spends 1966 anticipating a promising violinist career and an arranged marriage. On the other side of town lives Pony Boy, a member of a lower-class family—but Benfu’s best friend all the same. Their futures look different but guaranteed…until they’re faced with a perilous opportunity to leave a mark on history.

At the announcement of China’s Cultural Revolution, Chairman Mao’s Red Guard members begin their assault, leaving innocent victims in their wake as they surge across the country. With political turmoil at their door, both Benfu and Pony Boy must face heart-wrenching decisions regarding family, friendship, courage, and loyalty to their country during one of the most chaotic periods in history.

The prequel to the beloved Tales of the Scavenger’s Daughters series, The Palest Ink depicts Benfu’s coming-of-age during the tumultuous years of the Cultural Revolution.

What others are saying about The Palest Ink:

Bratt brings to life the struggle of two individuals during China’s terrible time that all should know about with an honest, yet compassionate style. She brings us as close as we ever want to be to an evil time, yet shows some found the courage to preserve their dignity. A must read. — Mingmei Yip, Author of Skeleton Women and other China-inspired novels

The Revolution itself is well documented and the historical significance of Chairman Mao’s Red Guard leaves fear in its wake. The danger and fear that come through the writing create discomfort and unrest, much as it must have been during the times. The danger is palpable, and adds to the chaotic feelings left after the reading of this work. If you enjoy history, revolution, courage, romance and family, then this will make a great work for your library. Kay Bratt has given us a work of intensity. Blogcritics.org

The Palest Ink, the story of Benfu’s early years fills in so many gaps in my knowledge of China during the Cultural Revolution, a topic that is practically taboo in China right now. This prequel to the four “Scavenger’s Daughters” books  shows me what the Chinese term ‘eating bitter’ really means. Kay Bratt sure has done her research, and presents the tale of those tumultuous years in a fascinating narrative. –Sibylla Grottke, WanderlustAndChineseInk.com

 

SerieswTPI

A Son, Survivor, and a Leader (behind the curtain of the Cultural Revolution)

Written by Kay on . Posted in Book Recommendations, China News & Tidbits, China-Inspired Book Recommendations

Xi Jinping during a visit to Beijing in 1972. He has rarely spoken publicly about his experiences as a teenager in the capital during the early years of the Cultural Revolution. Credit Xinhua Press, via Corbis

Xi Jinping during a visit to Beijing in 1972. He has rarely spoken publicly about his experiences as a teenager in the capital during the early years of the Cultural Revolution. Credit Xinhua Press, via Corbis

In a recent article in the New York Times titled Cultural Revolution Shaped Xi Jinping, written by Chris Buckley and Didi Kirsten Tatlow, the world is given a rare glimpse at China’s Cultural Revolution.

Jinping, the son of an unseated official, speaks of surviving the Cultural Revolution; a time in history that impacted many of China’s families and put them through turmoil, destruction, and even death. Can you imagine being denounced by your own mother? Criticized and disowned, acts of betrayal probably uttered through tears by the woman who gave him birth and loved every hair on his head? In my mind, I can see the boy standing stoically, struggling to be a man and accepting his fate so that his mother would be left alone and not persecuted alongside him. Despite his courage, her role as the pampered official’s wife was reversed and she was sent to do hard labor on a farm.

According to the article, Jinping’s father was exiled from home and taken to a city where he was displayed in the back of a truck, through the streets as the locals beat him. From the New Yorker, Born Red by Evan Osnos; ‘In January, 1967, after Mao encouraged students to target “class enemies,” a group of young people dragged Jinping’s father before a crowd. Among other charges, he was accused of having gazed at West Berlin through binoculars during a visit to East Germany years earlier. He was detained in a military garrison, where he passed the years by walking in circles, he said later—ten thousand laps, and then ten thousand walking backward. Jinping was too young to be an official Red Guard, and his father’s status made him undesirable. Moreover, being born red was becoming a liability.’

Also from Born Red; ‘A recent state-news-service article offers the mythology: “Xi [Jingping] lived in a cave dwelling with villagers, slept on a kang, a traditional Chinese bed made of bricks and clay, endured flea bites, carried manure, built dams and repaired roads.” ‘

Jinping’s life went from normal to devastating in a few short years but he didn’t blame Chairman Mao for all of the bad luck that fell upon his family. Quite the opposite, he felt an urgency to prove his loyalty and he dedicated himself to the party.

Much happened in between but years later when the horror of the revolution was over, Jingping and his brother were reunited with the father who had suffered much physical and mental damage from the isolation and torture he’d been through. The first moments must’ve been heart-breaking as a father didn’t even recognize his own sons. According to the NY Times article, the father wept and Jinping offered him a cigarette.

The old, battered man asked him why he also smoked.

Jinping gazed into his father’s eyes and spoke of the ordeal they’d both experienced, similarly but separately, in the years they’d been apart.

And his father considered it, then gave his quiet approval of a son who had not only survived what many did not, but like a phoenix from the ashes he’d turned tragedy into triumph and became the president of China, Xi Jinping.

If this small piece of history interests you and makes you long to read more about the upheaval of the Cultural Revolution and how people survived it, I hope you’ll take a peek at my latest novel, The Palest Ink, available for pre-order now on Amazon.

Palest Ink 3D sm

The Palest Ink

A sheltered son from an intellectual family in Shanghai, Benfu spends 1966 anticipating a promising violinist career and an arranged marriage. On the other side of town lives Pony Boy, a member of a lower-class family—but Benfu’s best friend all the same. Their futures look different but guaranteed…until they’re faced with a perilous opportunity to leave a mark on history.

At the announcement of China’s Cultural Revolution, Chairman Mao’s Red Guard members begin their assault, leaving innocent victims in their wake as they surge across the country. With political turmoil at their door, both Benfu and Pony Boy must face heart-wrenching decisions regarding family, friendship, courage, and loyalty to their country during one of the most chaotic periods in history.

The Palest Ink depicts the coming-of-age of two young men during the tumultuous years of the Cultural Revolution. Available for Pre-Order on Amazon here.

Red Butterfly, A China-Inspired book by A.L. Sonnichsen

Written by Kay on . Posted in Book Recommendations, China-Inspired Book Recommendations

The Red Butterfly

by A.L. Sonnichsen

 

I’m sure you’ve heard the buzz about a new China-inspired book  that hit the market on February 3. If not, believe me, you will. And just so that you won’t be the only one left not knowing what it’s all about, go ahead and snag a copy! A poignant story beautifully written, I give it the official Kay Bratt recommendation. Here’s a bit more about The Red Butterfly by A.L. Sonnichsen.

Book Description: A young orphaned girl in modern-day China discovers the meaning of family in this inspiring story told in verse, in the tradition of Inside Out and Back Again and Sold. Kara never met her birth mother. Abandoned as an infant, she was taken in by an American woman living in China. Now eleven, Kara spends most of her time in their apartment, wondering why she and Mama cannot leave the city of Tianjin and go live with Daddy in Montana. Mama tells Kara to be content with what she has…but what if Kara secretly wants more?

Told in lyrical, moving verse, Red Butterfly is the story of a girl learning to trust her own voice, discovering that love and family are limitless, and finding the wings she needs to reach new heights. Age Level: 8 – 12 3 – 7   Available on Amazon (Here)

RedButterfly

Reaching Out….

Written by Kay on . Posted in A Bratt's Life

Luna

About six weeks or so a terrible thing happened. Amanda called home crying that her beloved cat, Luna, had gotten out and was lost. She was devastated and that began several weeks of exhausting trips back and forth (200 miles round trip), hanging flyers, posting pictures, and walking….looking….walking….looking….

Alas, we have yet to find Luna.

However, after one call from a stranger who swore he’d seen her in his apartment complex, I was doing a few paces around and ran into an elderly woman. I told her why I was lurking around her building and she invited me in. I didn’t really have time, but who says no to a sweet elderly lady? I went in and she and I had a long conversation in which she told me she was named Tereatha and was born in 1921. She said she feeds the stray cats in the neighborhood, and names all of them. (I’m thinking they aren’t stray if she’s feeding them and naming them!) One huge black and white cat came up to her glass door while I was there and she said he was John the Baptist, then put out a bowl of food for him.

While we talked, I felt that she was alone and asked if she had family around. She said she has one nephew in Arizona and when I just came right out and asked her if she gets lonely, she said yes, but she has Jesus.

Tereatha burrowed deep into my heart that day. Just as God probably intended that she would. I’ve thought about her many, many times since then and today I drove the 200 miles round trip to let her know that she’s not as alone as she thinks. Amanda and I took her a bag of gifts and when she opened the door and I asked her if she remembered me, she said yes and went to her table and pulled out of a stack of papers the note I’d written with our number on it in case she saw Luna. She said I’d made her day when I came in and talked to her that day, and when I left she had gotten on her knees and prayed for us.

When I handed her the bags of gifts, she kept giggling like a little girl and asking if I had the right person! She held her arm out once and said, “touch me, make sure I’m not dreaming.” When she got to the chocolate, I asked if she was allowed to have it and she said, “I’m not supposed to but you just watch me.”

We talked for a long time and she made us laugh with a lot of her sassy comments. She was also excited that her nephew is coming this week to visit her from Arizona. When I told her I needed to get on the road and once again reminded her to call Amanda if she needs anything at all, she told us to wait. As we sat looking around her tidy little living room, complete with a large selection of family photos (of which she had introduced many of them to us while talking), she ran into her bedroom and brought out a little devotional calendar to give Amanda. For me, she went to her kitchen and pulled out two cans of soup, then tucked them into one of the Christmas bags I’d given to her.

It might not be much, but I know this….

Those two soup cans will stay in my cupboard probably forever. As a reminder to me to never get so full of myself that I can’t reach out to someone else who needs to be reminded that she still counts.

Tereatha thinks I made her day. But the truth is,

….she made mine.

Tereatha_Christmas2014

 

Wouldn’t You Like to Meet Your Birth Mother?

Written by Kay on . Posted in A Bratt's Life, Adoption Stories

At the end of Labor Day weekend, Ben and I boarded a flight home from the Chinese Heritage Camp in Denver, Colorado. Flying coach, we squeezed our tall bodies into our seats and readied ourselves for the uncomfortable experience. The flight attendant (I’ll call her Kelly) greeted us and as she oversaw other passengers, she talked to us. Completely entertaining in her giddy exhaustion after a long day of traveling, she got around to asking us why we’d been in Colorado. I explained the adoption camp, and  we talked about why I was there.

When the couple in the exit aisle proved unable to meet requirements, Kelly had us switch seats. It was a win for us because we instantly had the coveted leg room, and Kelly said it was a win for her because she got interesting people to communicate with. (Her jump seat was directly in front of me)

Once the flight was underway, she told me that it was ironic that we had connected that day because she is an adoptee. She explained that some forty-odd years ago her birth mother gave her up for adoption and she spent her first few weeks of life in a children’s home before being adopted.

Kelly said she’d had a wonderful life with awesome parents, and she was grateful to her birth mother for giving her that gift. She also said that over the years, she’s gotten the question a number of times; wouldn’t you like to meet your birth mother?

I asked her, “Well, what do you tell them?”

She smiled and explained to me that no, she would never want to meet the woman who gave her life. Why? Because she likes the image she’s held of her in her mind for all these years and would never want it shattered. You see, Kelly fully believes that her birth mother is kind, generous, and gave her a gift the day she relinquished her to a new fate.

Adoption.

It’s an amazing thing.

The Love of a Birthmother by Susan Scharpf

The Love of a Birthmother by Susan Scharpf

 

Behind the Story; the Chengguan in China and Bitter Winds

Written by Kay on . Posted in Book Recommendations, China-Inspired Book Recommendations

Over the years that we lived in China, I ran into my fair share of the chengguan, otherwise known as the street police. The Chengguan are a unique Chinese institution: something less than a police officer, but more powerful than an average person. These urban management officers are hired by municipal governments to carry out undesirable tasks  (Definition from TeaLeafNation article) My interaction with them was limited to seeing them coming through the various markets to harass store owners. When a uniform was spotted, a murmur would move through the lines of stalls and many would completely shut up shop as they passed through, rather than deal with their abuse.

With the ease of photos and the internet now, there are many new stories coming to light of abuse and even death caused by these chengguan, especially those whose power has gone to their heads. In 2013, a 56-year-old farmer named Deng Zhengjia brought his watermelons to a nearby city. When the chengguan confronted him about selling on the street, they took some of his watermelons and ordered him to move to an approved stall. He and his wife obeyed, but when the chengguan came around again, this time they took more than watermelons, they took his life. All because he dared to question their authority and begged them to leave him be. Fortunately, his wife was there and was able to be with him as he took his last breath.

watermelon

Suspicously when his daughter took to Weibo, the Chinese twitter, about what happened to her father, her posts were soon deleted and replaced with a statement that the government had acted fairly in the situation. Censorship along with abuse and murder! When the people tried to get the chengguan to take responsibility by guarding the body for an autopsy, they were soon beaten down too.

Another instance of the chengguan acting inappropriately is when they rounded up all the beggars at a festival and put them in portable jail cells along the sidewalk.

beggars

The photos that accompanied the story are heart-breaking, and were the catalyst for Lily’s story in my novel, Bitter Winds. Lily is blind, and when she is mistakenly taken for a beggar, the chengguan interrupt her life. Her sister, Ivy, must find a way to free her from the grasp of corrupt officials. The two become desperate to each help the other, and the bonds of sisterhood cannot be broken as they work to be reunited.

SD_BitterWinds

Read more about Lily and Ivy and their fight for freedom in Bitter Winds, available here at Amazon.