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The Diary of Ma Yan: The Struggles and Hopes of a Chinese Schoolgirl

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  653 Ratings  ·  101 Reviews
Wednesday, November 7

My father gave me and my brother a little money. My stomach is all twisted up with hunger, but I don't want to spend the money on anything as frivolous as food. Because it's money my parents earn with their sweat and blood.

I have to study well so that I won't ever again be tortured by hunger. . . .

In a drought-stricken corner of rural China, an educati
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published May 31st 2005 by HarperCollins (first published January 1st 2002)
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Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all) Start by reading it. It's not that long and it's not hard to read, since it was written by a teenage girl.
Then compare and contrast Ma Yan's situation…more
Start by reading it. It's not that long and it's not hard to read, since it was written by a teenage girl.
Then compare and contrast Ma Yan's situation with your own. Think about what it must be like to be in her place. Draw a few conclusions.
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Community Reviews

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Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
For most in the first world it's hard to remember or even realise that for an enormous proportion of the world's children, even a basic education is a privilege--or indeed an impossible dream. Ma Yan's diary is a testament to this: given the most basic education in a school without even a library, she dreams of an "ideal" job in her future that will release her parents from grinding poverty and back-breaking labour.

The Communist training shows through in her constant self-criticism, making her
Aug 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: WHINERS!
This is one of those cases where the story is AMAZING, the book itself is decent. Ma Yan's STORY is inspiring, heartbreaking, and in many ways unbelievable to us pampered ones. We just can't fathom surviving on a single bowl of rice a day, owning only one change of clothes, spending months at a time without parents while they travel far away in search of work, suffering merciless beatings at the hands of teachers, walking five hours to school (in the snow, of course), living in a one-room house ...more
Kenneth Zhu
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I decided to read this book because I thought this book will be interesting for me to read. Also, this book looks so attracting to me that I want to read it. I think this book will let me write a good review and use the time precisely without wasting the time and it will let me finish the book as soon as possible.
This book will fit the category of “A diary, autobiography or biography” because this book is a diary book. This book will tell us what is happening in their lifetime as they are living
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Aug 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Patricia
Every teacher should read this and share it with their students! We take education here for granted, but in some countries it's something you have to work hard for. This is an inspiring story-- I couldn't put it down.
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't imagine being that poor. Or being that hungry. Or having to endure physical abuse from the teachers and mental abuse from my mother. Yet still feel the need to be top of the class and prove that mother and father's hard work is not in vain. I'm glad she made a large amount of money off the book, transitioned the lives of her family and is able to help other Chinese girls attend school when they otherwise would have been left to work the lands.
I admire Ma Yan as a person so much. Through her true diary entries she reveals her dreams of making it through her education and getting a good career to get her family out of poverty. You can’t help but love and root for this girl! She has such determination, she’s constantly saying how she must continue to work harder and harder in her studies. She’s not the best in her class, but she has SUCH a strong work ethic.

Ma Yan is so selfless, she wants more than anything to ease the suffering of her
Rana Ansari
Jan 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
While fiction is fabricated from beginning to end, and nonfiction is generally sensationalized, this is the raw and unedited diary of a thirteen year old Chinese girl revealing her constant struggle to get an education despite the minimal resources, harsh conditions, and grinding poverty. Her everyday life no matter how sad and trying, her inscribes in the diary are invariably filled with hope, zeal, and determination.
Reading this in preparation for a regional summit in which my students are participating. The book is a little boring, but the issues it raises are good and will hopefully compel my students to appreciate their own eduction.
Anne Marshall
Mar 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: auto-bio
Heartbreaking and yet hopeful. Really well written and the results of her book sale are wonderful
Megan Anderson
This is one of those stories where you wonder if serendipity really does exist. Pierre Haski, the man who originally translated and published Ma Yan’s diaries in a newspaper, was really just there to take some photos of backwater China, which in 2002 had barely changed in hundreds of years. Ma Yan’s mother was the one who actually gave him the diaries, and he said when he read them, he knew he had to do something to help the teenager achieve her dreams.

The diaries cover only a few months of two
بثينة الإبراهيم
تختلف قصة مايان عن حكاية ملالا، التي حظيت باهتمام واسع جدًا، رغم أن هنالك من مثيلاتها كثيرات وربما يفقنها في التجربة والمعاناة دون أن يحصلن على القدر نفسه من الاهتمام. ما يان، فتاة صينية مسلمة تعيش في أشد مناطق الصين فقرًا، اضطرت والدتها لإخراجها من المدرسة لعجز الأسرة عن دعمها ماليًا، ثم أعادتها ثانية بعد ما رأت من إصرارها. أنقذت الأم ما يان من مصير مظلم مرتين، فكانت هي العرابة دون أن تحتاج لجنية طيبة تمنحها حذاء وعربة تغير حياتها، كل ما فعلته الأم أنها قدمت دفاتر يوميات مايان لصحافيين أجانب كا ...more
Andy Raptis
Oct 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Nothing really great in literary terms, but what do you expect from a thirteen year old girl? There are also some annoying inserts by the French editor which interrupt the flow of the main story.
There is also a very good film adaption which didn't do well in terms of distribution. It seems that the makers of the film forgot to secure the copyrights that's why the plot is much different from that of the book. As a matter of fact its a much more accomplished work than the published diary. Definite
Oct 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, china
Very good. Hand this book to your kids when they start complaining about anything.
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Read this in half a day.
Nov 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
It was a very informative book that helped me understand how good I have it. It taught me to appreciate more and to spend less on pointless things.
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
An insightful and at times heartbreaking look into the realities of growing up in rural China.
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Short, quick easy read.

Amazing how much struggle this girl and her family endured for her to have an education.

Very eye-opening as to how life is for people in this remote, rural part of China.
Feb 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
De Franse journalist Pierre krijgt tijdens een bezoek aan een Chinees plattelandsdorpje een brief en bladzijden uit een dagboek in zijn handen geduwd. Later blijkt dat de 13-jarige Ma Yan de schrijfster hiervan is.
Via haar dagboekaantekeningen komen we meer te weten over haar leven op het Chinese platteland en hoe moeilijk dit vaak is.

De burgers van het platteland zijn een beetje de vergeten groep. De woon- en werkomstandigheden zijn slecht, net als het onderwijs en de gezondheidszorg. Ook is
The Diary of Ma Yan, by Ma Yan and Pierre Haski, is the story of a teenage girl living in a remote area of China. Her diaries were given to a French journalist as he traveled through her remote village in northern China. In her journal, which was translated from its original Mandarin, into French, and later English, Yan tells of her quest for an education. Her Muslim family is desperately poor and raising the funds to attend school requires extreme sacrifice for her parents. If Ma Yan quits sch ...more
Jonathan H
Apr 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: form-1-shelf
I believe Ma Yan’s message in The Diary of Ma Yan is that education and a hard ethic work is the only way out of poverty and starvation. This novel takes place in the rural area of Ningxia China during the early 2000s. Ningxia is home to the Hui people, a minority in China. The Hui people are Chinese-Muslim opposed to the other religions in China. The Diary of Ma Yan is told through the eyes of the ambitious young schoolgirl, Ma Yan. Ma Yan’s family is extremely poor and don’t have regular meals ...more
Aug 08, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amber Garabrandt
Mar 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
*Minor spoiler alert* I honestly can’t say what made me pick up The Diary or Ma Yan, but I am so glad I did. It really illuminates the differences in culture; what we take for granted here in America is what they dream of. An education, in her small village in China (Zhangjuashu), can very much be the difference between starvation and hope for a happy life. Coming from a peasant upbringing, she sees her parents and grandparents working constantly, back breaking work in the fields. Throughout th ...more
Linnea McGowan
Aug 18, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: myworldsquared
Miss Heather suggested I read this book because she loved it... but I must admit that it didn't touch me the same way.

I can see how this would be very powerful for people who have not been exposed to it, but sadly, I have been. I am very familiar with the give and take of the Chinese parents and students, and how much pressure the students put of themselves to be the best. I am very familiar with telling my former students that I'm so proud of how much they have been learning, that the grade do
Harun Harahap
Buku Harian Ma Yan ini ditulis oleh Pierre Haski..Pierre Haski menerima buku ni dari Bai Juhua, Ibunda Ma Yan, saat ia mengunjungi ningxia..

buku ini tentang perjuangan Keluarga Ma Yan..untuk bertahan hidup dan melanjutkan sekolah..merka sangatlah miskin namun mereka mempunyai keyakinan kalau pendidikan adalah sesuatu hal yang sangat penting..maka berkat kerja keras sang ayah, Ma Dongshi, dan ibunya, Bai Juhua..Ma yan bisa terus bersekolah..mereka mencari Fa Cai..dengan cara ilegal dan mesti perg
May 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
WHAT THE BOOK WAS ABOUT: It was Ma Yan's diary so it was pretty much just about her life. Several times she was concerned she wouldn't be able to ever go to school again, several times she's starving of hunger, and her mother is sick. The book is really cool and it's really neat how it teaches you a lot about China.
WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THE BOOK: I liked that it was real and how it taught me about China, mostly Chinese currency. The publishers also stopped the diary every once in a while to explain
Jun 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: diari
Breve, ma toccante, con tanto di risvolto finale lieto e in bocca al lupo per il tuo futuro, Ma Yan. Il diario la segue per un breve periodo, ma rende perfettamente l'idea della povertà, delle condizioni di vita a casa e a scuola e dei rapporti familiari e sociali. Domina un gran senso del dovere ed un profondo rispetto nei confronti dei genitori, la madre in particolare. Verso di lei Ma Yan prova un affetto struggente, la pensa in continuazione e desidererebbe con tutto il cuore ricevere un com ...more
The Diary of Ma Yan is a very insightful, beautiful read. Fighting against hunger and poverty, along with traditional mindsets and the discouraging opinions of family members, Ma Yan successfully rises above her adversity to achieve her dream of furthering her education and providing for her family.

However, now, we need to take this with a grain of salt.

According to those running the organization for the children of Ningxia, China has changed since this book was published. Though Ma Yan became a
Dina P.
Dec 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Buku ini bercerita tentang kisah nyata Ma Yan, seorang anak perempuan petani penggarap yang sangat miskin di sebuah desa yang juga sangat miskin di pelosok Cina. Dan di Cina yang budaya patriarkinya masih tinggi, Ma Yan yang merupakan anak perempuan satu-satunya harus terus-menerus dihantui ancaman berhenti sekolah karena biayanya terlalu tinggi.

Tapi Ma Yan dan orang tuanya, terutama ibunya, tidak pernah menyerah. Mereka terus bekerja keras di ladang sampai berminggu-minggu demi mendapatkan uang
Sophie Zapoli
This book was an inspiring and eye-opening testimony to the importance of an education that brings the statistics, testing, and proven facts about the benefits of education to life on a level of intimacy with Ma Yan, just one representative of so many who suffer as she does just to learn. The Diary of Ma Yan is a story that isn't just to be enjoyed, it's a story that teaches and makes us rethink each time someone wants to complain about going to school or being "hungry" ever again. The luxuries ...more
Jun 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: china
I read this book a year or so ago, and then just read it with my two 9-year-old children. The book is a combination of diary entries by a young teenage girl in rural China and commentary by the man who was entrusted with the diaries. She works extremely hard to go to school--and her mother sacrifices a great deal in order to pay her school fees.

My kids are fascinated by Ma Yan's life, which could not be more different than theirs. They find it hard to believe that someone can be so poor, can go
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Ma Yan was a teenager, thirteen and fourteen, from Ningxia, China, when she wrote these diary entries. At sixteen, Ma Yan hoped to attend a university: "I want to study journalism," she said. "My purpose is to keep the whole world informed, to report the poverty and real life in this area."
More about Ma Yan...