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Daughter of Heaven: A Memoir with Earthly Recipes
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Daughter of Heaven: A Memoir with Earthly Recipes

3.21  ·  Rating details ·  122 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
The powerful yet touching memoir of a Chinese-American woman and her grandmother by an extraordinarily talented author who has been compared to Amy Tan and Maxine Hong Kingston.
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 4th 2005 by Arcade Publishing (first published 2005)
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Feb 26, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I picked up Daughter of Heaven from the dollar store a few weeks ago. It looked like a memoir about food, and even had the added bonus of real Chinese food recipes. All that for $1? Why not?
It turned out to be a book relating the events of the author's life as they revolved around food. Some chapters were sumptuous and fabulous in description, others were mini-essays about the ancient history of China, and others on the author's strong dislike for her father.
Halfway through the book, I determine
Feb 28, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book for the author's fascinating family history and the mouth-watering recipes she included.
Donna Hutt Stapfer Bell
A memoir with recipes

Brutally honest in its emotional content, this frank recollection of a life lived with human people as parents, teachers, friends and enemies has clear,concise recipes for meals-as-memory from one embroiled in diaspora, finding, losing and re-finding identity. Bracing, honest and delicious.
Jan "don't blame me, I also voted for Hillary"
Lesli Li's memoir of her paternal grandmother Nai-nai touched me deeply. Don't be confused into thinking this is a cook book; rather, it is a story of family wherein food is often used to enrich our understanding of everything. I have read a lot of books about China, both nonficton and fiction. I learned more about Chinese culture from Leslie Li's honest heartfelt story of her family than almost all the other books combined. She also shares many recipes with her readers. The prospect of preparin ...more
Jun 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adultlit
This is an autobiography of a Chinese-American woman who writes about her food memories as a way of understanding her heritage. In some ways it is like The Joy Luck Club, because the author as an American raised is struggling with her parents and grandparents, whose lives were wrapped up in historical events she doesn't remotely understand. In other ways her life is quite different from Amy Tan's fictional daughter: as a New Yorker whose family was also European and who lived in the suburbs, she ...more
Jan 11, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: foodies, history buffs, anyone interested in the immigrant experience
A memoir by a Chinese American writer that focuses on family history and family relationships through the lens of traditional Chinese cookery. The relationships of the most significance are Ms. Li's with her father and with his mother, Nai-Nai. I loved reading about the touched that part of me that loves movies like Eat, Drink, Man, Woman, Like Water for Chocolate, and (my favorite) Tampopo that explore how food is way more than fuel to keep our bodies alive. Food is love, sex, power - ...more
Cathie Whitmire
Though I enjoyed the overall story, I am reminded once more of why I don't like auto-biographies in general. In many spots, the author came across as a whiny, self centered, brat. That said, I'll tell you what I LIKED about the book.

The descriptions of the daily life of her ancestors were rich, and colorful. I wanted to meet them, and the glimpses of them as they aged were poignant, sometimes repugnant.

The author also helped the reader to understand the behavior and culture of her particular fa
Maybe I was biased from the start, since in the introduction the author clearly states that she "recoils from the kitchen" and has better things to do than hunt down ingredients from gourmet stores. Nothing quite like insulting the most likely audience for your book. The book lacks structure, the author jumps around from story to story, sometimes interrupting herself with a random memory or flashback. She is terribly into metaphor, so much so that when she wants to tell you something is really h ...more
Mar 18, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club, 2010
It is slow to start, but once I adapted to her roundabout communication style, I was able to relax and enjoy. I think this book was, in some ways, more for her to learn about herself and understand why she is who she is, than for us, the readers. It deals with a Chinese-American woman's experiences growing up in 1950's New Jersey and the tensions & cultural differences in her family between the different generations - mainly with her father. An interesting story and it reminded me to look mo ...more
Jan 26, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I never, ever, read non-fiction books. But, my dad got me this for my birthday so I thought I would read it to make him happy. By chapter 3, I thought this book is really good! I absolutely love the recipes in between the chapters!
This is a sort of biography-ish book about Leslie Li and the rest of her family, but most importantly her grandmother, Nai-Nai. It talks about Leslie growing up and going to France and China and Guilin, her grandmother's native town. This is simply a beautifully desc
Jun 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed reading this memoir. I got this book from the library as I was looking for food memoirs but this turned out to be much more. Liked the author's writing style, narrating from memory but with a touch of imagination and nice interpretation of events in a historical context. Reading this book piqued my interest in Chinese history and I spent some time on wikipedia learning about the various dynasties that ruled and the numerous wars they went through. I would suggest readers to have some bas ...more
Mar 22, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The book felt disjointed, so I tried to think of it as though someone were telling stories from their life; as we usually do not learn about someone straight through from childhood until adult experiences. Reading about other cultures is always interesting, esp. when someone's background warrants knowledge. Her memories are explained through food, which sounded wonderful. My grown boys, as well as their friends (after a hug) are usually greeted with "when did you last eat?" I only wish I were ca ...more
Feb 04, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was ok. I went into it thinking, Joy Luck Club, but it was more of an auto and family biography. The author jumps around a lot, which made me lose interest. Also, I was annoyed by the over-usage of what my dad would call "fifty cent words". Reviews from other authors said that the last third of the book was better and tied up loose ends. It just didn't keep my interest and, at about 60% on my Kindle, I just couldn't get up the enthusiasm to keep reading.
Marjorie Elwood
For a while, I found this memoir too piecemeal, as it jumped from character to character, and then to recipes. The last third of the book, however, ties together the threads into a strong and heart-breaking narrative about her family. What makes it work so well is the universal nature of the themes she explores. The ending gave me goosebumps.
Oct 24, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asian, memoir, cultural
An okay memoir - somewhat disjointed and meandering, some intellectual stuff. The stories set in China, particularly those about grandmother NaiNai are most interesting, involving history and the ever-fascinating and complex Chinese culture. Best recipe included: Soy Sauce Chicken
Judy Bevilacqua
A frank memoir with some extraordinary recipes. The author brings us into her memories - happy, sad, angry and frustrated - and adds authentic family recipes which somehow makes it more personalized. I'll be reading it again to catch some of the nuances I'm sure I missed on the first read-thru.
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not a smooth read, but worth the effort for an insight into certain Chinese traditions and for learning a little about Chinese history. I persevered with this book and went on to read up on the life of Songren Li. Have also ordered the first book written by this author about her grandfather.
Sep 03, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice stories, great recepies.
kind of boring, not as "foodie" as I wanted it to be
Dec 09, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wandering but Delightful non the less ! Very Simple Chinese recipes - was hoping for a little more .
Very prolific writer - her sentences are beautifully written. I plan to try out some of her recipes as well.
Doug Gruse
Aug 25, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved Leslie Li's stories of growing up as a Chinese-American, especially her tales of her Old World grandmother.
Sep 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Insight into contemporary Chinese heritage...biography. I really give it 3 1/2 stars.
Carol Yee
This should have been a good book, but there were too many errors in what she wrote.
Aug 06, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: foodiebooks
I like the first half of the book, but the second half felt disjointed and self-indulgent. Recipes, though. I love the recipes.
Janet Eshenroder
May 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yes, there are recipes that look heavenly. Mostly, I loved Leslie's stories. They were enchanting.
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