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Living Treasures

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  137 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Nautilus Book Awards Winner
Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal
Living Now Book Awards Medalist

A woman can have a career and family, but which comes first?

A starving panda eats a hen in order to nurse her cub in the dead of winter—there begins the perilous adventure of Gu Bao, a girl who grows up under the Chinese government’s one-child policy. Bao falls in love wit
Paperback, 229 pages
Published October 23rd 2014 by Harvard Square Editions
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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In China, women are pressured, and in some cases forced, to abort if they already have one child. Abortion is extremely common and widely accepted. Hence, the women in China say:

“It’s a rather common occurrence, [like eating] an ordinary kind of food. There’s nothing worth talking about.”

Yang Huang, a Chinese author, showed us how harsh the situation in the rural areas in China was when the one-child policy established by the government, in her debut book, Living Treasures . Living Treasures w
Release Date October 23, 2014

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 f
Roberto Mattos
Jun 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a very well written and very touching story, about a young lady named Gu Bao who is studying to be a lawyer so she can protect people against government abuse in China. Her life takes a turn during the student's demonstration against the government in Tiananmen Square in June 1989. She becomes involved with a soldier, and her story develops at a nice pace. Her struggle dealing with her parents over an abortion, her move to live with her grandparents for a while, and the development of a ...more
Jul 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In the novel Living Treasures Yang Huang's exquisite writing will engage all your senses- transporting you to China and the world of the novel's heroine, Gu Bao, a young law student living during the time of the Tiananmen Square protests. Bao's story is gripping and suspenseful, but Huang expertly weaves in moments of quiet, almost magical, beauty that will make you want to linger on pages even as you can't stop turning them. Huang's novel is a reminder of those moments in life when we have to m ...more
Oct 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015, historical
It was clear to me when reading this book, that it was a book written for western audiences, not for a Chinese one. Not just because the chances of it getting past the Chinese censor are likely slim to none, but rather because the narrative of the story being told is frequently interrupted to pass information to the reader - or as I prefer to call it, info dump. This would not have been necessary for a Chinese audience, or really anyone with any passing knowledge of current affairs.

Opening secti
Qin Zhang
Jun 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read the galley proof of Living Treasures. Yang is a gifted story teller. The Living Treasures doesn't read like a debut novel. I love how Bao grow from a naive college student to a wise and determined women fighting for her and others rights. A must read if you're interested in contemporary China. ...more
Clare Willis
Aug 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Yang Huang is a born storyteller. Her luminous tale of one woman's struggles with love, cultural repression and the forces of nature is also the greater story of a country on the brink of transformation ...more
Aug 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Facing a personal tragedy, Bao escaped to China’s remote countryside where giant pandas roam. But soon she were dragged into a woman’s struggle to have a second baby, where the local official brutally enforced China’s one-child policy. Finally Bao found her strength and devised a plan to rescue the mother and unborn child, but would she succeed?

I had to read up on the one-child policy. This is a unique policy in China to slow the population growth. Each couple is allowed to have only one child.
Aug 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-2014-books
After seeing this book receive such warm praise from San Francisco Book Review, I decided to check it out. I was a bit intimidated though when I opened the book and had trouble understanding the recent history and politics of China. Once I had a handle on what the 1989 Tiananmen Student Movement and the One-Child policy mean, I really enjoyed the story.

I loved the diverse cast of characters: a college student, a soldier, and a village woman, how their lives intersected, and the misery of one pe
Sep 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads, 4-stars
Living Treasures takes place in 1989, a time of great upheaval and social unrest for many places in the world, but certainly for China. Gu Bao, a law student attending Nanjing University, becomes pregnant and must make a choice: raise the one child she will be allowed to have, or have a secret abortion and continue her studies. There are no alternatives, no middle ground. The consequences of her decision affect much more than her own life in very surprising ways.

Huang's writing is immersive with
Aug 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: panda-books
After reading the back cover, I was so looking forward to reading a book about panda. I was disappointed that the book is more about a young woman than the giant panda.

The giant panda is the living treasure of the world. Obviously it should be protected. Everybody knows that the giant panda eats bamboo, lots of it. But author Huang is right that the giant panda is actually classified as a carnivore; they will eat honey, eggs, fish, rats, bananas, and oranges when available. In the thick forest,
Sep 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is a Goodreads win. Thank you.

One may think this story is about Panda's, one would be wrong. Although we all love China's Panda's, this story is not about Panda's. This is a love story, a story of a young student finding her way in a China that is changing. A story of a girl who is much loved by her grandparents and parents, and has won the love of a young man. Unfortunately she becomes pregnant, and not married, aborts her child. In her grief she meets a mother who is fighting to hav
Aug 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Living Treasure paints a lyrical and compelling picture of a young woman’s tumultuous journey from the remote mountains of Sichuan Province to the barricades of Tiananmen Square and back again, putting her own life on the line to challenge China’s one-child policy.

— John Byrne Barry, author of Bones in the Wash Politics is Tough. Family is Tougher.
Amy Glynn
Aug 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Yang Huang is a gifted storyteller who brings a strong eye and a delicate hand to forging connections through symbol and metaphor. Living Treasures is a poignant and fascinating exploration of how we shape and are shaped by the events and environments that choose us. - Amy Glynn, author of A Modern Herbal
Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Living Treasure is real, stunning, heartbreaking and intense.
The first 100 pages I wasn't sure how I felt about the book. It seemed to jump from incredibly intense to suddenly silly and childish. I felt as if the author was having a hard time keeping everything "contained" and at time couldn't keep the book on track. That was the initial thoughts- soon, however, the bigger picture starting coming out and I was seeing the book
Bill Wolfe
Sep 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Read my full review here:

Yang Huang’s debut novel immerses readers in a time and place with which they may be somewhat familiar: China in 1989, just before and after the massacre of young protesters at Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

While it must have been tempting for Yang Huang to write an explicitly political novel about those people and events, she has instead chosen to focus on the love affair of an 18-year-old college student, Gu Bao, and a 22-year-old
Reader Views
Mar 16, 2016 rated it liked it

Yang Huang
Harvard Square Editions (2014)
ISBN 9780989596053
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (03/16)

“Living Treasures” by Yang Huang is a moving story about Gu Bao, a young girl who grows up to be a law student at a Chinese university during a turbulent time in Chinese history. The year is 1989, around the time of the Tiananmen Square protest, when Bao falls in love with Tong, a young soldier. Though Bao risks expulsion for having relations of any kind, and Tong could lose
Sep 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received this book from Goodreads Giveaways. What follows is my honest review of this book.

What an incredible debut novel! I knew I would love this story from the minute I saw the exquisite cover! Yang Huang has crafted a story that touched my heart deeply. The characters were developed so completely and the scenes described in such great detail that I felt as though I was with Bao in China as she grew from a young college student into a mature woman. I admired Bao's strength and courage she d
Oct 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I liked this little book. At times it moved a little slowly, but it was easy to see that the story would eventually get going. It was well-written and the action was easy to follow. This book represents a good insight into Chinese culture, and the eventual conflict was both believable and engaging, and inspired much empathy as the reader. I liked the characters and the story, they were layered and complex. The book plays on the natural inclination of humans but also the rigid training and social ...more
Sarah Swedberg
Sep 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was very happy to have won this book in a giveaway.

Set in the midst of the student uprising of 1989, this book weaves together culture (both urban and rural), politics, and love.

Gu Bao is not a participant in the Tiananmen Square protests, but is a keen observer of what is going on around her. She is in love with Tong, a soldier, despite the fact that her heart is with the protestors. When she becomes pregnant, her parents pressure her to have an abortion. She would not be able to continue w
Oct 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was pleased to be asked to review this beautifully written book from

This is a story written in China’s turbulent times. Gu Bao is a law student in 1989 at the time of the Tiananmen Square protest commonly known as the June Fourth Incident or the 89 Democracy Movement in chinese. The world could only look on as this became the Tianamen square massacre.

Bao meets a student called Tong, but there is heartache as the romance has to remain a secret due to the system. circumstan
Phyllis Krall
Dec 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This story takes place in China during the turbulent times of student unrest in 1989. China had a one child per family law and many sterilizations and needless abortions were forced upon those who did not follow this ruling.
Gu Bao is a young law student, who questions China's government, especially when she finds herself pregnant with the baby of a soldier she falls in love with. She sees how a mother panda protects her child like a treasure. Bao also tries to help a young mother hiding in the
Susan Bazzett-Griffith
I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

I am shocked by how beautiful and important and relevant this novel is, especially from a new author. I was not expecting to enjoy it, to be honest, but the story of Bao, Tong, Orchid and Candor was absolutely mesmerizing. The overwhelming themes of love and family and choice and human rights are a strong undercurrent to the tumultuous love and coming of age stories within this novel. I can't even explain how much I a
Tracy Campbell
May 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Living Treasures is a beautifully written story of Gu Bao, a succesful university student in China who finds herself in a situation that could ruin everything she, her parents, and Chinese society hold dear - she gets pregnant. Her transformation from a naive, quiet and reserved girl into a brave and determined young woman is truly wonderful to experience. Bao's determination to overcome her situation leads her to a meaningful and selfless decision; one that surprises everyone including Bao hers ...more
Rubery Book Award
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a compelling novel exploring 1990’s China against the long shadow of the recent past through the eyes of Gu Bao, a female student. We see her as a child with her grandparents in a small village, where she witnesses a starving panda desperate to feed her cub, and later in the aftermath of the terrible events in Tiananmen Square. At its heart is the injustice of the one-child rule and the brutal corruption of officials in their determination to enforce the law. Yang Huang writes with fresh ...more
George Wang
Dec 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Living Treasures tells a story of China, weaving together its strength and its darkness. Huang leads readers through a vivid journey that at times seems autobiographical. As she confides her innermost secrets, you feel the story is personal and Bao is real.

Against the dire circumstance of repressions and injustices in China, the author still holds her hope high for a fairer China. A fatalist would have given up long time ago. “It’s Chinatown”, as one sensible guy once advised Jack Nicholson. Th
Carol Lundberg
Nov 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Loved it! The story of Bao and the others kept me reading long after I should have been asleep and I finished the book quickly. The combined themes of personal relationships and human rights made this a very compelling story for me. I also adored the imagery of the novel, with the descriptions of the environment and food so detailed my mouth watered! Yang Huang is a terrific writer and I will definitely look forward to her future works.
Sep 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I received this book from the Goodreads Giveaway. And I'm glad I did!
The story follows the life of Gu Bao as she deals with the changes in her life and those around her. The development of Bao's character and relationships are well written. I enjoyed reading this book and, at times, couldn't put it down. I will definitely be recommending this book for others to read.
Vincent Roos
Sep 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
For me, it was quite awesome reading about the tumultuous Tiananmen Square protest in 1989. I truly learned a lot. Ms. Huang, did an exceptional job making this story appear real-life like. She appears to have a stellar future as a fiction writer. Cant wait until 10/23/2014 to own a copy. Of course, I am going to tell all of my friends!
Lesley Fowler
Oct 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book was brilliant. I would like to thank Yang for giving me the opportunity to read this book. The one child laws of China is something we don't really think about but is hard to comprehend. There must be millions of couples who fall pregnant a second time and I hope what I read doesn't really happen, but sadly it probably does.

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Yang Huang grew up in China and has lived in the United States since 1990. Her novel MY GOOD SON won the UNO Publishing Lab Prize. Her linked story collection, MY OLD FAITHFUL, won the Juniper Prize, and her debut novel, LIVING TREASURES, won the Nautilus Book Award silver medal. She works for the University of California, Berkeley and lives in the Bay Area with her family. To learn more about Yan ...more

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