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The Same Moon (Journey to the West #1)

4.28  ·  Rating Details ·  47 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
Pearl Zhang was born in Sichuan Province in China, and grew up during the Cultural Revolution. She was raised in a typically Chinese manner, went to school, got a job and got married, and her whole life path had been mapped out, or so it seemed.

She then seized the opportunity to study in the United Kingdom – and stayed. How did Pearl adjust to the Western way of life, and
ebook, 513 pages
Published February 2nd 2011
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Jun 28, 2011 Katy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Katy by: Junying Kirk
Shelves: ebook, i-edited
Disclosure: I read and reviewed this book from an e-book provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review in July 2011. I later edited the book for the author.

My Synopsis: Pearl Zhang was born in the Sichuan province on mainland China in 1961. She was raised in a traditional Chinese manner, went to school, got a job, got married, had her single child … and then her life changed. She was given the opportunity to go study at Warwick University in United Kingdom for one year – and stay
Peter Tieryas
May 06, 2013 Peter Tieryas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very passionate and emotional book about the life of Pearl Zhang that is semi-fiction, semi-autobiographical. There are many moving passages as we see Pearl endure the swings life throws at her and yet she grows and evolves with each step. Junying Kirk evokes the innocence of youth all the way to the disillusionment and new hope Pearl eventually finds through her descriptive prose. There are some very painful and disturbing moments, ones that, even as a reader, feel "like a knife stab ...more
Donna Carrick
Jul 28, 2011 Donna Carrick rated it it was amazing
The full spectrum of human experience...

The Same Moon by Junying Kirk is the tale of Pearl Zhang, a "spicy Sichuan girl" who grows up during Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution. More than just another "coming of age" novel, I found this to be a wonderfully-rendered character study. At all times fighting for freedom, Pearl entertains personal aspirations that are not in keeping with the expectations of her society.

It would be an injustice to call The Same Moon a mere love story, although love is c
John Dolan
Dec 06, 2013 John Dolan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'The Same Moon' chronicles the early life of Pearl Zhang whose childhood was spent in Sichuan during Mao's Great Leap Forward. Although spared some of the horrendous follies that many Chinese peasants suffered during this period - and millions died in the great famine - her life was nonetheless hard and punctuated with tragedy. Ms Kirk paints a picture of a loveless upbringing where notions of duty, both familial and state, take precedence over an individual's dreams and desires.

Some Western rea
Sandra  Valente
Dec 04, 2012 Sandra Valente rated it really liked it
4 1/2 stars.

E-book copy provided by author

I'll start by mentioning the fact that I've worked on this book. Ahhh, you might say; she's biased. Not in the least. I'm nothing if not honest, and won't wax lyrical about a book I didn't enjoy. Had that been the case, this review would not be here - at all. My thoughts, views or comments hereof have not been influenced in any manner, shape or form. Just because I work on a book, does not mean I will like it (the story, characters and so on), and I won
Vanessa Wu
Oct 25, 2011 Vanessa Wu rated it it was amazing
I read this book more than a month ago and let it settle in my mind before writing this review. I did this deliberately because I think few readers could have the same response as me to this book or read it with the same appreciation. I do not know the author exactly but I feel I know her through our shared experiences.

Like me, she is originally from China, has an academic background and was steeped in English language and literature before coming to England and continuing her studies here. In T
G.S. Johnston
May 09, 2013 G.S. Johnston rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s not often you read a novel that is so edifying it’s hard to put down. There are a few example of this – Our Sister Killjoy by Ama Ata Aidoo and My Place by Sally Morgan, both post-colonial writing.

In a lot of ways, The Same Moon falls under the same rubric as these. An intensely personal tale but based in a world I had no idea about. Not only does Junying Kirk’s novel skilfully describe a very different world, the first person narrative explores the completely different mindset of a commun
Sep 09, 2011 Jenna rated it liked it
I still can't quite decide what genre to identify "The Same Moon" with. It has a little bit of everything: drama, romance, but it's pretty much the life story of Pearl, the main character.
Honestly, my first impression of The Same Moon isn’t good, I thought it was going to be a looong read. As I started to read it I thought it had an “autobiography-like” format, where the protagonist was telling her own story. As I went on, I found her stories interesting. However, there were lots of things go
Matt Posner
Oct 10, 2011 Matt Posner rated it it was amazing
The Same Moon is a novel in memoir form by my friend Junying Kirk. Made from a mix of fascinating details from daily struggle and the intense and poetic feelings of men and women in love, it chronicles the life of a Chinese girl growing to womanhood, first under the oppressive yoke of Maoism, and then, as a graduate student, in the United Kingdom. Protagonist Pearl Zhang grows up unaware of her beauty, enduring both physical and emotional torment, and then enters into a series of disappointing a ...more
Sep 21, 2011 Vered rated it liked it
The Same Moon follows the story of Pearl through her childhood and early adulthood in China to her first several years in the UK where she pursues her dream of higher studies. The first half of the book provides a fascinating glimpse into the day-to-day reality of a young person growing up in China, and her perceptions and observations of a country in transition from strict communism to a relatively more open society. The traditional culture is also brought to life through Pearl’s narrative. Whe ...more
Mar 19, 2011 Junying rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Recommends it for: Anyone curious
Yes, I am reading my first book again, and I've lost count as to how many times I have read it by now - after all I wrote it, albeit some years ago! Yet, this is the first time I actually hold a printed copy in my hands, fondly touching the beautiful cover which my artist friend Yongqun Guo expertly painted (dated also some years ago), and Eri Nelson, my author friend helped turning it into a superb cover. The Chinese mountains and pine trees in the mist evoke so much emotions inside me, as well ...more
Jess Scott
May 13, 2014 Jess Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautifully-written book by a highly literate author who has a respect for the written word. No gimmicks, no hype, nothing that's cheap about the all-important subject of coming of refreshing! Reading the chapter titles alone is stimulating, because you get a glimpse of the structure of the book without being told the exact details (which of course, entices you to want to see how the story plays outs).

The realism of the book draws the reader in effortlessly. The journey is ep
Eri Nelson
Nov 21, 2011 Eri Nelson rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Yes
From the first moment, the lovely Pearl who shyly hid her smitten entrancement over the captivating Rain, took hold of my conscious thought and swept me away with its exquisite sway.

As I read further, loosing myself within the richly enchantment of words, the notice of classic reads caught my interest. How many times I too could claim to the marvelous reads as to the likes of Jane Eyre, Anna Karenina, Jane Austin, and so many more. Perhaps it was too early to say but my fondness for this charmin
Bin Yuan
Jun 02, 2011 Bin Yuan rated it it was amazing
To me, The Same Moon accounted a true and first hand experience from the author that brought up powerful feelings inside me. On reading it I have gained a deep understanding of the world in which we live, through the author's vivid descriptions and sharp observation. I was taken to a journey I have never been before, even though I came from China.

This is the story of Pearl Zhang and her family in China, It is through their lives that family history unfolds and tragic secrets are exposed. The au
May 22, 2013 Maureen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Pearl grows up during Chairman Mao's cultural revolution and has aspirations uncommon to most within that society,at that time. However,she has to make some huge sacrifices along the way, to make those aspirations a reality. The style of writing felt almost biographical at times, and took me into a world of which I had little knowledge. I particularly liked the first part of the story in China , though having said that, Pearl has such an interesting life wherever she is! Junying writes in such v ...more
Oct 15, 2012 Vicki rated it liked it
I do believe that the only other book I've read by a Chinese woman is Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior. I love The Same Moon and saw some similarities to Kingston's book.

The story is well-written (although it does have some editing issues) and Junying's writing style is very personal. Kirk has a way of writing in vivid detail, giving the reader a good visual to "see" what she is describing.

The characters are strong and and the reader gets to see what it's like growing up in one country a
Tabitha Ormiston-Smith
May 08, 2012 Tabitha Ormiston-Smith rated it really liked it
I loved this book. It's beautifully written and despite the autobiographical style of writing, the action never flags. I was gripped by it right from the start and can't wait to read the next in the trilogy.
First of all I want to thank Junying Kirk for the 2nd book (of this series) I won here. Without it I guess I wouldnt have found this series and bought and read part one.

When I started reading The Same Moon I honestly was a bit confused. The time changed from 1981 back to 1980 and then again to 1981. But I quickly understand and got used to her writing style.

Written in the main characters (Pearl Zhang) point of view I was able to have a sight into her life in China and in the UK. The life she had
Dannie Hill
Aug 06, 2011 Dannie Hill rated it really liked it
I found The Same Moon by Junying Kirk to be a delightful read. From the beautiful cover to the end of an interesting journey in the life of Pearl Zhang. Pearl was born and lived into her twenties in mainland China during the harsh days of Communism. A period of turmoil and strife.

It was very interesting to learn about how Pearl and others lived, loved and learned in an all but secret time to the Western world. Pearl’s childhood was hard but she always put education as a goal to strive for and be
Sinead MacDughlas
Aug 23, 2011 Sinead MacDughlas rated it really liked it
An extremely enjoyable read

This book is written in a fictional memoir style, making it easier for me to become emotionally attached to the main character, Pearl. I followed her journey from East to West eagerly. It's easy to tell the author has a deep working knowledge of the culture and history of China. Some people may be put off by the depth of detail, and the amount of historical background, but I loved finding out more about a culture that already peaks my interest. Several times I found my
Eden Baylee
Nov 21, 2011 Eden Baylee rated it it was amazing
As a Canadian born Chinese, I didn't have the history of China as a foundation for reading this book, but growing up Chinese in a very traditional home, even in French-speaking Canada afforded me great insight into Ms. Kirk's sometimes painful adjustment to her new life in England.

I've greatly enjoyed Ms. Kirk's writing on her excellent blog where she chronicles many of her real-life travels. Though The Same Moon is a book of fiction, I suspect it is deeply steeped in the experiences of the auth
Angela Maldita
Oct 16, 2011 Angela Maldita rated it liked it
I honestly don't know what to say about this book. I love it... but well... I don't hate it either... maybe its just because its not my genre.

First, what I love about this book is that its very vivid. It's like I've been there, done what the character has done and travel to those country as well.

Ms. Junying is very good in words, on describing things, on relating what she feels to the readers. Incorporating good phrases here and there as well added an impact to the book.

I guess above it all, Ms.
Kate Bowyer
May 10, 2011 Kate Bowyer rated it really liked it
If you're looking for a book to take you away to a foreign land than this is for you. We get to live through Pearl in China and than in the UK as she struggles to fight for what she wants and has to make some big sacrifices on the way.

It's funny to see how families around the world are not so different sometimes even if cultures are very different. I really enjoyed getting to know China and as I read it I was thinking back on where I was in my life as to what was going on in China and know how
Casey Sheridan
Oct 14, 2013 Casey Sheridan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading The Same Moon immensely.

Junying Kirk has a soft, compelling way of telling the story of Pearl.

The Same Moon is touching and poetic.

I look forward to reading more of Ms. Kirk's books.

Jess Scott
Nov 13, 2011 Jess Scott marked it as to-read
Excerpt + author interview @

Will read soon :)
Apr 25, 2013 Judie rated it did not like it
I read all the reviews on "The Same Moon" and it seems that I didn't try to read the same book as everybody else who commented. The writing style is juvenile, her life laid out in a series of facts, and I just couldn't relate to Junying as a young woman. Obviously, this book wasn't for me, but many others thought it was good. I never finished the book.
Vivek rated it it was amazing
Feb 22, 2013
Karen Cole
Karen Cole rated it it was amazing
Jul 04, 2015
Carol Ann
Carol Ann rated it liked it
Jun 04, 2013
Cheng rated it really liked it
Apr 29, 2014
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Junying Kirk was born a Spice girl from Sichuan Province in China. In the summer of 1988, a British Council scholarship led her to study English Language Teaching in the UK, which eventually adopted her. She has worked as an academic, administrator, researcher, teacher, professional interpreter and cultural consultant. Currently working as International Partnerships Manager in a large UK universit ...more
More about Junying Kirk...

Other Books in the Series

Journey to the West (3 books)
  • Trials of Life
  • Land of Hope

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