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Living Treasures

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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 with a handsome soldier during the tumultuous Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. The demonstrations transfix her fellow students and kill one of her friends. Bao finds herself pregnant and faces the end of her academic career. Her grieving parents arrange for a secret abortion and ship her off to her grandparents’ house in the remote countryside where she was raised.

Bao searches for her inner strength while exploring the evocative Sichuan mountain landscape. She befriends a panda mother caught in a poacher's snare, and an expectant young mother hiding from villainous one-child policy enforcers bent on giving compulsory abortions. All struggle against society to preserve the treasure of their little ones. Can Bao save a rural family from destruction, and help a giant panda along the way? She devises a daring plan that changes the lives of everyone around her.

A deeply moving story of family, passion, and courage, Living Treasures is both a gripping page-turner and an incisive social critique, portraying a young woman’s quest for romance and justice in a rigid society. Bao, a law student, aspires to have both a career and family, but which comes first? A baby rarely arrives at a convenient time. The decision about the woman’s body is not an easy choice but rather a compromise that comes with a dear price. Bao’s struggle encapsulates many women’s journeys through life, as they experience the triumphs, suffer the heartbreaks, and learn to live with the consequences.

229 pages, Paperback

First published October 23, 2014

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About the author

Yang Huang

10 books167 followers
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 Yang and her writing, visit www.yanghuang.com or follow her on Twitter: @yangwrites.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 46 reviews
Profile Image for Aditi.
920 reviews1,333 followers
December 18, 2014
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 was a Bellwether Prize finalist, which is a strong historical novel set in China against the one-child policy.

Set in China during the tumultuous Tiananmen Square protest in 1989, Living Treasures portrays the crusade of Gu Bao, a girl who grows up under the Chinese government’s one-child policy. The Chinese government has enforced strict controls to keep the country from environmental destitution and poverty ever since Mao’s ban on family planning left China a legacy of 1.1 billion people, 20% of the population on earth.

Bao searches for her inner strength while exploring the Sichuan mountain landscape. She befriends a panda mother caught in a poacher’s snare, and an expectant young mother hiding from villainous one-child policy enforcers bent on giving compulsory abortions. All struggle against society to preserve the treasure of their little ones. Bao devises a daring plan that changes the lives of everyone around her. Will Bao earn a second chance to save a family from destruction? What price will Bao pay to prevent a full-term abortion and save a panda cub?

18-year old Gu Bao's life, who is a first-year law student changes drastically on June 1989 when a student demonstration against the government in Tiananmen Square goes out of control. However, she herself was not present in the demonstration, but on that very day, Gu Bao falls pregnant with her young soldier lover. Following which Gu Boa's parents forced her to abort the child by brainwashing her. Gu Bao went to her grandparent’s village, where she grew up, to have the procedure. It is where Gu Bao realizes the harsh condition of expectant mothers, forced to abort their child by the one-child policy enforcers. Gu Bao jumps to rescue a young expecting mother who went into hiding in the woods, even if she has to sacrifice her own ability to become a mother.

Gu Bao is a brave and strong-willed character. I never came across a woman like who would jump into fire just to save another's. Moreover, Gu Bao's demeanor astounded me when her parents forced to abort her own child. She did not even utter a word for her defense. She simply obliged.

What is astonishing is that this story's backdrop is actually set on a poignant love story whose strings will pull you deeper into the core of this heart-touching story. Though the relationship was highly forbidden on the face of Bao's parents, teachers and law, still their blossoming, passionate chemistry will fill you up with warmth. Not only has that Huang skillfully interwoven various issues faced by a young unmarried woman back in 1989 in China. It seems Huang used the notion of China's national treasure- Giant Panda, metaphorically to contrast the stark in-differences faced by an expecting woman and the mother Panda trying to nourish her cub.

Yang Huang intricately detailed and delicately captured the bright landscapes, culture, superstitions, heritage, sights, and sounds of Pingwu County countryside and the city of Nanjing. Reading which will completely transport your mind and soul into the forbidden lands of China. From the very first page, I felt that very essence of China that drew my senses as well as my heart into the very core of the story.

The third-person narration is lyrical yet literary and flows like a free-flowing river. Living Treasures is a gripping and extraordinary historical and cultural novel that declares author Yang Huang as a talented, master storyteller.

Verdict: This historically as well as culturally-rich novel set in China will only swoon your heart and mind.

Courtesy: I would like to thank the author, Yang Huang, for giving me the opportunity to read and review her debut novel.
Profile Image for Dianne.
6,766 reviews590 followers
October 15, 2014
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 fellow students. When a demonstration results in soldiers being called in, Bao meets a young soldier who steals her heart and her virginity. Confused, ashamed, yet craving this young man, she battles a war within between tradition and honor towards her family and the feelings she has for Tong. Forced to choose between her education, her goals and Tong after discovering she is pregnant, family pressure wins and she has an abortion, turning her back on the man she loves. Forced to recuperate in her grandparents’ very poor and very small village, Bao realizes how the weight of the government is truly crushing these hardworking people. It is time for Bao to do the right thing and stand up for those who are too afraid of the repercussions of such acts. Will it cost her re-kindled love with Tong? Will it cost her life? If she doesn’t take a stand, who will?

With so much beauty and wonder in China, it is hard to reconcile what the Chinese people must deal with on a daily basis. Bao’s character is conflicted, confused and determined to make a difference, while lacking the maturity to find a starting point, yet as the story progresses; her personal growth is like watching a flower slowly opening to its full brilliance. The patience and love exhibited by her grandparents is a thing of beauty to watch. Yang Huang has written a smooth and flowing work of art through words that showcase the inner turmoil of the characters. The vivid scenes that are described transport the reader from their reading chair to the magic and beauty of a country torn apart by corruption and the lust for power. When an author can deliver you across continents to witness the world they have created, they have done a masterful job of writing.

I received this copy from Harvard Square Editions in exchange for my honest review.

271 reviews3 followers
June 7, 2014
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 friendship with an expectant mother who is hiding in the mountains from one-child policy enforcers to safely deliver her baby, all these situations are richly described, exploiting all the psychological angles, showing the struggle in Bao's young mind to do the right thing.
This novel makes us wish that this was really just a work of fiction and nothing that is described here really did happen in China, but I believe that this is only a wish. When a government tries to repress the free will of its people, it loses legitimacy and from there on, does not represent the people's will anymore.
I recommend this book to the permanent library of all readers who enjoy a very well written work of fiction, on a very timely subject, that will keep them entertained for hours.
I received a copy of this book from the author through the publisher (thanks, Simone from Harvard Square Editions!) and I was not requested to write a positive review. Opinions expressed here are my own.
3 reviews1 follower
July 13, 2014
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 make hard, sometimes heartbreaking, choices, and how those choices reveal who we are and what we truly believe in. Gu Bao and her courageous choices will stay with you long after you've finished reading- and, if you're like me, leave you hoping for a sequel.
Profile Image for RitaSkeeter.
693 reviews
June 18, 2017
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 sections of the book are set in 1989 during the time of student protests in Beijing, events that would lead to the Tiananmen Square massacre. I'm a bit uncertain why the author set her book during this period specifically. Although the protests were occurring in the background, and the death of a friend in Tiananmen is mentioned, it wasn't explored really at all. I'm supposing it was to paint a scene of an oppressive government, but it didn't (in my opinion) achieve that as this situation was not explored. The author does mention the misinformation fed to the people about the incident. This was interesting to me. When visiting China a few years ago a tour guide we had did not know what happened in Tiananmen, and said no-one he knew did. The tight control of information in China is real.

With that as a backdrop, the real purpose of the book is about the one child policy in China. Let me re-phrase that: it's about some corrupt officials who are involved in the administration of the one child policy. For it to be the former I would expect some focus on the reason for the policy. This book doesn't explore that at all. Regardless of how I feel about that policy as an individual, over population of the world is a very problem and I don't know how we are going to solve that. This book explores corrupt officials who perform forced abortions (including of term babies), and forced sterilisation of women. Barbaric regardless of your view on the one child policy. But ultimately the stories failed to move me, and I think this is because the book was agenda driven rather than writing of people I could relate to. Bao did not ring true as a character to me.

I wish I loved this book as much as the majority of reviewers. This is a subject that is important to explore. But I wish it had pursued its agenda through relatable characters that I developed empathy with.

I also just want to quickly mention the cover art; is this not the most beautiful artwork on a cover? Seriously beautiful - 5 well deserved stars to the artist.
Profile Image for Qin Zhang.
152 reviews
June 9, 2014
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.
Profile Image for Clare Willis.
Author 7 books21 followers
August 11, 2014
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
1 review1 follower
August 9, 2014
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. Enforcing this policy leads to many human rights violation, such as forced abortions, especially late-term abortions.

Living Treasures is a heartbreaking and heartwarming story of a young woman’s journey. In one short summer, she grew from a timid student to a brave defender of human rights. I’m drawn to Bao with empathy and compassion. There were tragedies both at the national and personal levels in the book, but we see rays of hope. Bao had what was in her to determine her own fate and help the weak.

A story with a perfect ending that I won't share here, for fear of spoiling it for the reader. Suffice it to say that you will love Bao and cheer for her all the way. Five stars.
1 review1 follower
August 9, 2014
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 person led to liberation of another. The book takes over a dramatic three months period in 1989 , when we get to see a lot of changes in people’s lives. It's very rich from the descriptions of college dormitory to the amazing landscape in rural China. I especially loved the bee swarming scene.

Living Treasures is an easy read. The sentences and paragraphs seem tight, at times I felt the book is too tight and polished. I enjoyed the descriptions of giant pandas and Chinese cuisine thoroughly. But these are not for everybody.

My advice would be to brush up on the contemporary history of China and check out a sample chapter if you're able, to see if you like this. It is worth it! This book definitely appeals to fans of literary fiction and book clubs.
1 review
August 9, 2014
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, species of bamboo die off in a cyclical pattern, about once every seven years. When this happens, the lack of food forces the pandas to go down to the village to grab whatever they can to survive. So what happened in the prologue is well documented. Pandas survive for thousands of years eating bamboo and everything else.

The giant panda didn’t make another appearance until later in the book, when Bao returned to her grandparents’ village to have an abortion. By then, it was caught in a poacher’s trap, heartbreakingly helpless.

I rated the book 1 star because it gave me the impression that the book is about panda, but it’s actually a book about a young woman’s struggle against an unjust society.


To be fair, this is a wonderfully written book, and I couldn’t put it down. I understand that both panda and the young lady Bao are supposed to be living treasures, but the reality is so different. I won’t fault the author for a somewhat misleading book cover. 5 stars from me.
Profile Image for Jan.
683 reviews16 followers
October 13, 2014
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 have a second child and is in hiding. Gu Bao helps this family, and with the help of her brave young love, fights the local Government, to make sure this child is born.

In the pages one moves with the student, as she grieves, grows up and grows stronger in her struggle to help bring China forward in an ever changing world. I enjoyed reading.
Profile Image for John.
Author 5 books22 followers
August 8, 2014
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.
Profile Image for Amy Glynn.
Author 6 books3 followers
August 11, 2014
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
Profile Image for Jes.
66 reviews14 followers
November 4, 2014
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 as how it really was.
Foreword Reviews called it "Deeply human and sympathetic". That review stayed with me the whole book. I was absolutely taken with Gu Bao from the start- a small child on a mountain to a university student in the heart of China. Her fears, heart and courage seemed to connect with me the same ways and I was never disappointing with her decisions.
That being said- having finished the book, I'm not sure where I standing with Tong. I didn't like him much at the start and throughout the book he waved on my certainty for him. He seemed to be a bit too "talk and no walk" for me than I'd have liked and I couldn't agree with most of his choices. Starting with his terrible knowledge on their first night together and ending with his vows and cuddles, I wasn't sure he could be the best for Bao- despite what they'd been through together. However, their romance was hardly the books main plot.
Living Treasures is the ideal book for anyone looking for something honest. It's got the magic and adventure of any other book but with the bitter after taste of bad decisions actually being seen through. It's a generous book with life lessons by the dozens. Gu Bao lived with her grandparents as a child, and only saw her parents every summer-busy people as they were. It's at her grandparents home where she first witnesses a miracle- a giant panda and it's cub. The memory of the giant panda eating their chicken, Cauliflower Tail, to feed it's cub teaches her more than she thinks and years later, when she's faced with loosing her school, home and dignity, does the lesson return.
A sudden pregnancy and then hurried abortion gives Gu Bao little time to prepare and in the span of weeks she loses her love and her child. Sent to live with her grandparents once more, she relearns the importance of parenthood and doing what you must for your child. Only without her own offspring to care for, Bao finds solace in another mother who's hiding from authorities in an effort to keep her second child.
Gu Bao becomes attached to the pregnant mother, as well as her first born, Daisy who she starts to visit and dote on often. True to life though, there are hurdles and anguishes to be overcome and suddenly Bao is forced with another sacrificing choice- run away for fight for another life.
Yang Huang's book is what I would describe as a tender bruise. Poking it hurts and looking at it might be awkward, but it's got a story and the pain is real. If you read one book this year, consider this one- it's full of real, achievable, human magic- you might even learn something too.
69 reviews3 followers
November 16, 2014
Read my full review here: http://readherlikeanopenbook.com/2014...

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 soldier, Tong, and the ramifications it has for their future. The political unrest serves as a foreboding backdrop for the domestic drama occurring first at Nanjing University and later in the Pingwu region of Sichuan province in mountainous central China.


The story develops in ways one wouldn’t necessarily expect and turns into something of a thriller in the final chapters. Bao, initially timid despite her academic and career ambitions, develops into a determined and spirited young woman who is willing to take on people and institutions she would have feared to challenge only months earlier.

Yang is equally adept at exploring the political situation, both at the political and personal levels, and capturing the texture of hardscrabble Chinese country life. She avoids heavy-handed polemics by depicting the effects of Chinese government policies on a handful of its citizens. As always, we experience the universal themes of oppression, resistance, and triumph through the particular instances of well-drawn characters, here Bao and Orchid. These are flesh and blood people, not mouthpieces for the author’s political harangues. Yang rightly keeps the plot focused on the human side of the nation-changing events taking place in the background of life-changing situations faced by the characters.

Profile Image for Lynn.
75 reviews4 followers
September 25, 2014
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 displayed through all the sad events she encountered in this story; how she struggled to right the political wrongs of China's one-child policy in a very personal way, putting herself in great danger for the well-being of another young woman and her unborn child; how she selflessly helped the pandas and their cubs, how she nurtured others, and of course how she found it in her heart to heal and continue to strive to make China a better place for all to live. I loved the interactions between Bao and her grandparents throughout the story, especially the connection she developed with her Grandfather through his sharing his love of bees and beekeeping. And of course the ending ... which I certainly will not give away here ... but which held so much hope for Bao and Tong and their future together.

Thank you to Yang Huang for the signed copy of this beautiful book. This was a story which I hated to see come to an end.
Profile Image for Alex.
7 reviews
December 17, 2014
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 re-enforcement of the sometimes stern Eastern culture. I felt the joy of a girl having a secret like the panda and her secret boyfriend, but I felt the sense of hopelessness one feels when they want to be with someone they know their family will not approve of. This book is a good read for anyone looking to a good introduction into books that are heavy in cultural references, or just an engaging read. It doesn't take too long and will leave you satisfied on the whole. I'd recommend this book to a friend, though not a friend with a short attention span or a penchant for quick, easy or low-brow fulfillment. This book would ordinarily be a fairly fast read, but with the fall and holiday season, it took me a little longer.
Profile Image for Sarah Swedberg.
283 reviews5 followers
October 2, 2014
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 with her studies in the law as a mother. She returns to her grandparents' village for the procedure and recovery.

Bao had spent time as a child in the village, but her life had changed. She is no longer comfortable in the rural life, but slowly finds her way through the differences and back to loving and appreciating her grandparents. She becomes entangled in the politics of the one-child policy, bringing food and company to a woman hiding out in the mountains because she is pregnant and wants to keep the child, despite already having a daughter.

The story is compelling, the characters nuanced and never exactly what they seem at first.
505 reviews15 followers
February 23, 2015
I was pleased to be asked to review this beautifully written book from www.librarything.com.

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. circumstances occur that Bao is forced to make hard and what we would see as impossible choices, her life verus the state and her family -the latter wins. She is strong willed and inteligent and she can clearly see that the system is not right and what it is doing to the people.

This is a beautiful romantic story with the back drop of China, the system and political scene of 26 years ago. The characters are written well and the author effortlessly makes them so real. The author captures all of this giving the reader an insight into this world and a time that we looked on in horror and disbelief.

This book has to be up there in the top ten in 2015.
445 reviews6 followers
January 4, 2016
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 woods because she is pregnant with her second child.
I loved this book, which is beautifully written. The story takes the reader back in time to mainland China during a period of unrest and rigid rules. It was mesmerizing up until the surprising ending which was so unexpected. I highly recommend "Living Treasures which will keep you thinking about Gu Bao and her struggles.

Profile Image for Susan Bazzett-Griffith.
1,735 reviews46 followers
November 21, 2014
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 adored it, and I am honored to have won this signed copy. I will be recommending it to any friends and family interested in contemporary comparative literature. Yang Huang is a genuinely gifted writer who brought me to tears with her prose and story-telling ability, and I will eagerly anticipate her future work! Five stars.
Profile Image for Tracy Campbell.
63 reviews
June 1, 2015
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 herself.

The story provides a whole new insight into China's politics and culture that is both disturbing and intriguing, and allows the reader to experience life from the perspective of the Chinese people. I look forward to reading more of Yang Huang in the future.

Note: I received this book from Ms. Huang through Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Rubery Book Award.
209 reviews13 followers
July 27, 2015
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, clear simplicity, and the voice of her narrator is strong, clear and moving.

Rubery Book Award
1 review
December 12, 2015
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. The survivor instinct kicks in and many would just walk away from it. Yang Huang wants none of it. She is an optimist.
December 3, 2014

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.
Profile Image for Odilia.
4 reviews
October 21, 2014
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.
1 review
October 10, 2014
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!
Profile Image for Lesley Fowler.
68 reviews3 followers
January 12, 2015
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.

Profile Image for Edie Black.
Author 1 book6 followers
October 1, 2014
Living Treasures is beautifully written with wit, real-life complexity and warmth. Yang Huang captures what it’s like to be a young woman living in rural China during a time of upheaval. It’s a compelling, engrossing and moving story.
1 review
October 21, 2014
Im gonna love it the intro seems interesting, it's my kinda book. Good job
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