Joanie's Reviews > Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother: Stories of Loss and Love

Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother by Xinran
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's review
Jun 01, 11

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2011, bios-memoirs, from-asia-with-love, non-fiction
Read from May 21 to June 01, 2011

A woman was like a pebble worn smooth and round by water and time. Our outward appearance was changed by the fate meted out to us in our lives, but no water could alter the heart of the woman and her maternal instincts.

A translated collection of stories about daughters and loss.

Xinran brings together various tales of mothers abandoning their daughters, through her travels over the years and letters received from listeners back when she was a radio presenter. There's a desperate attempt by her to compile this book in order to begin to answer the question of 'Why?,' asked by the many adopted daughters in China. Their origins may never be solved but this book gives possible reasons for why their mothers made the difficult decision to give them up: family pressures, tradition, poverty, the one-child government policy, etc. It's almost unfathomable for me to even imagine the situations laid out by these painful stories, but Xinran is able to bring these problems closer to us all, whether or not we are mothers, daughters, adopted, does not matter.

We meet a peasant girl who's married off but never gets the approval of her in-laws because she does not birth sons for her husband, and consequently is forced to live in shame as he is off having an affair while she saddles the responsibility of caring for the rest of the family. The in-laws hate her, she has nobody to turn to, and fortunately finds work, but is unable to handle the fact that city folk give birthday parties to little girls, and only wishes that she could've seen her daughters be so happy, if only they had the chance to live. It's one among the many stories of heartbreak these mothers go to.

The stories are delicately handled, and translated quite lyrically. I haven't read Xinran's other works but I am curious enough to. She's got a noble cause going and I hope this book is widely read, as at least a semblance of comfort to those affected.

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Reading Progress

05/30/2011 page 80

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