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A River of Stars

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  4,148 ratings  ·  618 reviews
In a powerful debut novel about motherhood, immigration, and identity, a pregnant Chinese woman makes her way to California and stakes a claim to the American dream.

Holed up with other moms-to-be in a secret maternity home in Los Angeles, Scarlett Chen is far from her native China, where she worked in a factory job and fell in love with the owner, Boss Yeung. Now she's car
Hardcover, 289 pages
Published August 14th 2018 by Ballantine Books
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Stacey The author’s web site has a book club kit with 14 questions. The same questions were at the end of the ebook that I borrowed.
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Average rating 3.58  · 
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 ·  4,148 ratings  ·  618 reviews

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4.5 stars

Those who live in Southern California may remember that several years ago, there was a huge boom in “birthing tourism” where pregnant women in China would pay a lofty sum for the “privilege” of traveling to the United States to give birth so that their babies would automatically get American citizenship. The most notorious of the “maternity centers” that made these types of arrangements for the women were all located in San Gabriel, an area that was (and still is) home to a large commun
Celeste Ng
A RIVER OF STARS splits "the Chinese immigrant story" into a kaleidoscopic spectrum, putting human faces to the many groups—rich and poor, privileged and marginalized, documented and not—who come to America. Vanessa Hua’s debut is an utterly absorbing novel about the ruthless love of parenthood and the universal truth that sometimes family runs deeper than blood alone. ...more
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
4 refreshing stars to A River of Stars! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Happy Publication Day to A River of Stars, a wonderfully told story of the Chinese immigrant experience from the perspective of a new mother.

A River of Stars focuses on Scarlett Chen, a factory worker who has an affair with the married owner, Boss Heung. Scarlett is pregnant, and doctors tell her that she and Boss Heung will be having a boy, which is everything to Boss. He has three daughters and has always desired a son. Boss Heung becomes ob
Angela M
Sep 05, 2018 rated it liked it

3.5 stars

There are a number of things that I liked about this book. It covers the tough and highly relevant, timely issue of immigration. We get a view of the inequities in Chinese society in its view of people and the awful conditions in the factories and the difficulties of immigrants once they arrive in the US. I mostly liked it for the character of Scarlett Chen, who is determined to do what it takes to give her American born child the opportunities she herself never got as a country girl in
Theresa Alan
Dec 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Scarlett Chen is thirty-six-years old when she has an affair with her married boss at the factory she works at. He sends her to America to a house for pregnant women where they’re told the only things they can eat and do. He does this to give what he thinks will be his first son all the advantages America offers. Scarlett realizes that he’ll take the baby away from her, so she goes on the run to protect her child. Even though she hadn’t planned on having a kid and certainly not under these circu ...more
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
At Perfume Bay, the mothers were treated like children, so that their children would obtain the most precious gift of all: American citizenship.

Scarlett has been sent to California by her much-older, married lover to deliver their child, his only son, on American soil. She's stuck in a home with some other expectant mothers, guarded by an unpleasant harridan named Mama Fang. When Scarlett's sonogram reveals a big surprise, she and a pregnant teenager go AWOL, each hoping to find the American dr
Jan 26, 2019 rated it liked it
A slow, moving story about two pregnant women, Scarlett and Daisy, who escape a dangerous situation and flee to San Francisco’s bustling Chinatown. There, they raise and nurture their children while carving out their own piece of the American dream. Behind the scenes, the father of Scarlett’s child, Boss Yeung, wants to find Scarlett so he can reclaim their child and maintain his legacy.

I liked this book a lot for its portrayal of the immigrant experience in America. Scarlett and Daisy both exp
“Here in America, she might change the world—but she had to hurry before someone else did.”
Scarlett Chen's married lover requests she travel from China to America to give birth to their son. The benefit of having American citizenship in the family is priceless. Of course, Scarlett will have to give the highly desired baby boy to him and his wife thereafter. In return, she will have freedom and a generous amount of money for her sacrifice and silence. So with few other options, Scarl
Elyse  Walters
Audiobook read by Jennifer Lim
This is an audiobook I was looking forward to. I bought this about a year ago - an Audible purchase. Time got away from me - and it took me this long to get to it.
I remember loving other members reviews - plus I’m interested in Asian-American culture.
But I’m not going to finish it or rate it.
I listened to the Audiobook a couple of hours.
I didn’t enjoy the slapstick comedy. A character DROPPED THE BABY. Was I suppose to laugh?
The baby-dialogue was tedious.

May 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf-dropped
I feel bad. I made it 2/3 through this book but just couldn't go any further. I enjoyed the characters and was interested in the story but it didn't seem to be progressing. It felt stagnant. I expected more from the narrative and interaction between the primary characters but it felt bogged down in so much superfluous language rather than moving the story forward at a quick enough pace to hold my attention. I wish I knew how the sorry ends but after struggling with this for well over 2 weeks, it ...more
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Vanessa Hua's first novel is wonderful. I enjoyed this novel about Scarlett Chen, a Chinese woman factory manager who is impregnated by her rich lover boss. He sends her away to Perfume Bay, a place in America where Chinese women are housed and where they can deliver their babies. The goal ofcourse is to have the baby in US soil with automatic American citizenship. Scarlett is really a very interesting complex character and I admire her pluck. There are many themes that bring this novel together ...more
Lisa Wolf
3.5 stars

A River of Stars was my book group's pick this month, and I ended up listening to the audiobook. So, some pluses and minuses: The narrator was pretty good, doing (I'm assuming) a good job with the Chinese phrases, which gave the story a nice, rich feel as a "listened-to" book. While the initial set-up -- an off-the-books maternity home for Chinese women of wealth, to ensure that their children would have the advantage of US citizenship -- is interesting, the story really picks up once S
Sherwood Smith
The title is a graceful nod to the fundamental Chinese myth of the cowherd and the weaver girl, which, though ancient, as buried in it some key ideas about the double blade of parenthood and filial obedience.

This novel, rich in detail about Chinese Americans and Chinese immigrants, takes a compassionate but unsentimental look at motivations for Chinese coming to America.

Scarlett Chen, our main character, becomes pregnant by her lover and owner of the factory she works for, Boss Yeung. He’s a sel
2.5 stars

I so wanted to like this book especially after reading the inside cover flap. The story sounded interesting and thrilling. The opening chapters were intriguing but the more I ventured into the story, the more it fell flat. I kept hoping to eventually care about the characters and was desperately seeking some type of epic climax in the story. It never came. I felt like I was on a never ending Ferris Wheel....going in circles, going nowhere. It was a chore to finish.
Scarlet’s determination kept me reading, as well as her transition from someone not overly interested in her impending motherhood, to a fiercely enterprising and loving person. The story mostly follows her, though we do get the occasional chapter told from the perspective of not quite antagonists to Scarlett: the father of her baby, and the manager of the tightly controlled home for the pregnant women where Scarlett initially lands after arriving in the US.
I really liked the developing relations
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fresh-meat, literary
Here's what I liked about A River of Stars:

** Here come some spoiler-y bits **

1. The premise; a pregnant, unwed mother named Scarlet is sent to the USA by her lover so her child will have American citizenship.

When she discovers the gender of her baby is not what her lover desires, she seeks to escape the regimented home she has been sent to and make her own way, with the unlikely help of an American Chinese teen, Daisy.

Scarlet realizes that in order to give her child every opportunity she can
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
A moving novel that focuses on Scarlet, as she’s pregnant and trying to find her way and stake a claim to the American Dream for herself and her unborn child. Vanessa Hua’s was enthralling, and moving. It’s a story that timely and filled with vivacious characters while on their journey trying to create a new home. Highly recommend for those readers who love stories about immigration, identity and character driven stories.
Kate Olson
Dec 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
PHENOMENAL! I am kicking myself for waiting so long to read it - WHY DID I WAIT? The ferocious power of a mother’s desire to provide a better life for her child combined with the struggles of immigration to America, fascinating details about Chinese culture and female friendships, all set in the teeming neighborhood of San Francisco’s Chinatown - I can barely describe this one except to say that it exceeded all of my expectations. Hopeful against all odds with the tiniest hint of suspense, this ...more
Nov 16, 2018 rated it did not like it
I'm honestly struggling to think of anything positive to say about this one...

I think the premise had great potential, but that's about it. I just had one too many issues with this one to rate it higher than one star:
- the characters are totally impossible to relate to. I don't mind dislikable characters in novels, but these were flat and void of personality. I couldn't give you more than a sentence description of any of the characters, even after spending over 200 pages with them.
- you'd think
Kirstin Chen
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A truly stellar debut novel about motherhood, immigration and the search for the American dream. I fell for Scarlett Chen from the very start—and would have happily followed her for another 100 pages!
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book for the incredible bravery and determination of its protagonist, Scarlett Chen. Pregnancy, motherhood, immigration, entrepreneurship... this book tackles so much and never stopped surprising me. An amazing, captivating read.
Stacey A.  Prose and Palate
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-reads
LOVED IT. Review to come.
Lolly K Dandeneau
May 17, 2018 rated it liked it
via my blog:
'Mama Fang held everyone’s wallets, passports, and their cash in the safe in her office, part of her pledge to take care of every detail. That meant Scarlett couldn’t pay for the fare and couldn’t leave the country. And if she asked Boss Yeung for a ticket, he’d refuse.'

Scarlett Chen becomes pregnant by her lover and owner of the factory she works for, Boss Yeung. A self-made successful business man with three daughters and a wife yearns for wha
Nov 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: review-copies
A River of Stars by Vanessa Hua analyzes the many challenges faced to find one's identity as an immigrant, the struggles of new motherhood and the complicated relationship that is female friendship. It is a tale of hope and survival with quite a bit of drama, and some tidbits on Chinese culture. Although it gets a bit slow following the halfway mark and at times lacks consistency, I would still recommend you give it a try if literary fiction with an immigration theme sounds like something that y ...more
Dec 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaways-arcs
As I meandered through this book I knew I wouldn't love it but I stuck with it and was glad I did. If you like slow reads, and especially if you enjoyed the likes of Pachinko, then this one should be on your TBR. Though I also finished Pachinko with some pretty lukewarm feelings, Vanessa Hua's debut novel is much more condensed and that better served the slow-moving story. There is actually quite a bit of action but it is spread out and separated by long bouts of banality, which, though oft beau ...more
Kathryn in FL
Ms. Hua writes a creative, funny and yet serious story on the topic of treatment of women in China.
Two women unite forces when they realize that they are not going to be allowed to raise their babies. Ms. Hua is a gifted writer, invoking emotions in the reader about the injustice done to the main characters while at the same time giving us insights about the motivations of those who impact their lives. She has a fresh voice and though the subject is serious, her delivery keeps the reader investe
R.O. Kwon
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Vanessa Hua’s A River of Stars is an epic, necessary tale about a pair of pregnant women on the lam from a maternity home. They flee to San Francisco's Chinatown, where they try to make a life for themselves and their expected babies. This is a moving, wildly entertaining, and compassionate debut. ...more
Book Concierge
Hua’s first novel looks at the immigrant experience from a slightly different angle: wealthy Chinese who pay a high fee to ensure their pregnant partners will stay in a secure location until they give birth to babies who will automatically have the always-coveted native-born U.S. citizenship.

The story focuses on Scarlett Chen, the mistress or Boss Yeung. Boss already has three daughters with his wife, but ultrasound has shown that Scarlet is carrying a boy, so he wants to be sure to give his s
Iryna *Book and Sword*
Took my time reading this and enjoyed it very much. It wasn’t always believable, and the plot wasn’t always consistent, but in the end it was a great story, with even greater writing.
Sep 04, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
Vanessa Hua has a GREAT concept. I wanted to read this book because the synopsis makes it sound incredible — it’s the kind of story I would expect Celeste Ng to write, which is high praise. Yet it is just let down so heavily by the pacing, the tone, and the writing style. (So basically all of the things that make a story work.) My goal was to make it to 100 pages and then pass judgment from there, but I only made it to page 84 before I just couldn’t do it anymore. I took a lot of notes while I w ...more
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Vanessa Hua is author of DECEIT AND OTHER POSSIBILITIES, winner of the Asian Pacific American Award for Literature and a finalist for the California Book Award, A RIVER OF STARS, a national bestseller and best books pick by NPR and the Washington Post.

A National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellow, she has also received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award

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