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River of Stars, by Vanessa Hua.

June 18, 2018

River of Stars
River of Stars, by Vanessa Hua.  Katherine Tegen Books, 2018.


2 stars

An improbable story about two pregnant, unmarried women from China who run away from the home to which they have been sent and hide with their babies in poverty in San Francisco.

Vanessa Hua is a native of San Francisco. Her father is Chinese.  For two decades she has written articles about China as a columnist and reporter for The San Francisco Chronicle.  Her journalism has received a number of awards, and she has published a book of her short stories, Deceit and Other Possibilities.

Hua’s novel features to two very different women. One is a factory worker from mainland China who was gotten pregnant by her boss who wanted a son.  The other is a teenager born in America to Chinese parents who had later returned to Taiwan with her. Now a teenager, she frantically wants to find her baby’s father, another teenager.  The two women meet at a “home” for rich, pregnant Chinese wives who want to give their babies the privileges of American citizenship.  In a moment of chaos, the pair escape the home in Los Angeles and make their way to San Francisco where they take refuge in an old apartment building.  Life becomes a daily adventure as they have their babies and try to support themselves.

Neither the women or plot were able to draw me into this book.  I particularly disliked the section which th young women fake being lesbians.   I assume Hua is better at journalism than fiction.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 18, 2018 3:00 pm

    Sounds implausible and not one I would want to read though I would like to find more Chinese authors.

    • June 23, 2018 9:19 pm

      Sorry to be slow responding. I haven’t read many Chinese authors either, but there are a couple I can suggest. Lisa See is a Chinese American who has written a bunch of books in and about China. My favorites of hers are Shanghi Girls and Dreams of Joy. Do Not Say We are Nothing, by Madeline Thien is big and complex, but very good if you are willing to make the effort. I have also liked books by Xiaolu Guo. You might search my blog under China for others, but those are the ones I have liked best.

      • June 27, 2018 3:56 pm

        I tried Lisa See but found it a bit too light for me. Madeline Thien I thought was superb and I really don’t understand why it didn’t win the Booker Prize. I think I have something by Xiaolu Guo – The Red Azalea maybe?

  2. June 29, 2018 12:08 pm

    I agree about See, but the others I have read are even less substantial. I liked Xiaolu’s memoir, Nine Continents. She didn’t write Red Azalea. It has been on my TBR shelf forever, and I’d have to go look to see the author.

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