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Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  3,053 Ratings  ·  321 Reviews
When her family relocated to rural China in 2003, Kay Bratt was thrust into a new world, one where boys were considered more valuable than girls and poverty and the one-child policy had created an epidemic of abandoned infants. As a volunteer at a local orphanage, Bratt witnessed conditions that were unfathomable to a middle-class mother of two from South Carolina.

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Paperback, 430 pages
Published July 3rd 2008 by CreateSpace
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Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader & Traveling Sister
This was another Kindle Unlimited audio. I've really been enjoying my "free" audios lately.

I had listened to about half the book before I read some of the reviews. I probably should not have read the reviews! Up to that point, I was listening with my whole heart to Kay Bratt's experience volunteering in a Chinese orphanage. It was written (and narrated) in a journal-type style, and some some of thoughts were scattered, but for the most part it seemed organized. Much of what Kay witnessed was he
May 07, 2010 rated it liked it

This going to be a tough read. Because of the excruciating subject matter? No. Because the author is annoying and unskilled? Yes.

I'm not the PC sort and I laugh in the face of tolerance but this depiction of China and its people says more about the writer than it does about the culture of which she writes. She hasn't had a nice thing to say about anyone since the plane landed. She even seems upset when they speak to her in Chinese at the Chinese fast food restaurant. In China. She even insists t
Nov 19, 2012 rated it did not like it
I gave this a one star.
Wish I could give it less.
I am only on page 401 of 4655 of this ebook.
Why? Prepare for my rant:

I don't like the author. At all. Some white woman coming to a foreign non-white country expecting a silver spoon, expecting everyone to make her feel like she is back in the US. Fuck you, lady.

Thought it was interesting how she never mentioned having a bad back during the 21hr plane trip, the 2 uncomfortable hotel stays. Until we get to the housekeeper. She'd rather do her cookin
Courtney Jimmie
Jan 01, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read2013
The writing is bad; no one can say otherwise. In fact, it seems that the author compiled blog posts/journal entries without editing them for focus. That is the smallest of this books problems, though.

This book is NOT about orphanages nor about orphans. This book is about a self-important woman going on and on about herself. Granted, it's commendable that she volunteered at an orphanage, but the book reads like, "Look at me! I'm doing volunteer work! Aren't I wonderful and selfless?" Again, this
Jade C
Jul 12, 2013 rated it did not like it
I was very excited to read this book after reading "messages from an unknown Chinese mother" because it gave me great closure being adopted from china around the same time some of her comments took place. However I was greatly disappointed to read this book ( and by read I mean struggle to read past the first five chapters without wanting to throw this book out the window) and find that it was the whining diarys of a middle class white woman.

I really hate being such a bum in my review but this
Kelli Oliver George
May 24, 2014 rated it did not like it
A few chapters into this and it officially became a Hate Read. Was this author self-published? I personally know AMAZING authors struggling to get published, yet this horrible dreck seemingly passed off as a BOOK oddly got published. What the hell??

I was hoping to get a sensitive, thoughtful analysis of the situation in Chinese orphanages. What I got instead was an author so self-absorbed she seemed to have forgotten that she was in CHINA, a Communist country with a population of over a billion
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was ok

I'm hesitant to use a pop culture term, but it's what immediately comes to mind - this book in deeply rooted in a "first world problems" perspective. Although I enjoyed the sections that focused on the orphanage, the author's ego got in the way of the book as a whole. She clearly considers upper-middle class American culture to be vastly superior to Chinese culture and makes no effort to hide it, and it takes over the narrative. I selected the book as my Amazon library pick for August - thank g
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
First timers to a Chinese orphanage have the same questions: "Why do babies share bottles when they are sick? Why are the toddlers using the same spoons? Why aren't there any toys to play with? Why do the ayis refuse to show compassion?" Kay Bratt had the same questions when she began to volunteer at the orphanage. She learned that her role was giving love and compassion to the babies and toddlers. The orphanage was bleak and dirty. Babies lived in cribs most of the time with fevers, wearing soi ...more
Aug 01, 2009 rated it did not like it
Occasional interesting glimpses of orphanage life are present in this book - but difficult to find amidst her proclamations of how only her volunteers show the babies any tenderness, and where would everyone be without her?

I have seldom been so offended by the point of view from which a book was written. I plan to return my copy.

I believe this falls in the category of "Great White Hope" literature.
Michelle Szetela
Feb 25, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The living conditions are truly abhorrent in at least one Chinese orphanage. However, as much good as the author did in volunteering her time, acquiring badly-needed supplies for the children, and convincing others to volunteer, I got the following impressions of the author:

* She did not seem to make a single Chinese friend during the years she was there, instead predominantly interacting with those in her expatriate community.
* She repeatedly mentioned her "passion" with working with children
Jul 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: bratt
22 jul 16,1st from bratt for me. musta been one of those advertising pages on the open the kindle up, turn it on, there it is, something like that. looked like a possible, cover, title, so i took a chance. change of pace.
onward, ever onward.

25 jul 16, finished.

reading this, i wondered why the author never once considered the perceived hostility from the orphanage workers, other than to recognize there was hostility. why? the author was able to leave china numerous times, vacat
Mar 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: teens-and-adults
This kindle book was on sale and I was interested in the subject so I bought it despite reading reviews that the author is really annoying. And YES she is really annoying and unaware of her privileged status. (An example is that at one point she mentions a Chinese nanny earns four dollars a day. Later the author goes shopping and buys some fruit and vegetables and feels it is a great deal at less than two dollars. HELLO, do the math. Those purchases are almost equivalent to half a nanny's daily ...more
Lori Anderson
Feb 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, asia
My husband and I considered adoption from a Korean or Chinese orphanage and had heard a lot about the neglect that was prevalent there. I accidentally ran across this memoir by Kay Bratt and learned a lot.

Kay followed her husband to China with her young daughter and while her husband worked at setting up a new facility for his work in China, Kay threw herself into working to bring about change in a Chinese orphanage.

One thing Kay emphasized -- don't go into a Chinese orphanage going gangbusters
Apr 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Although I admire Kay for getting up and actually doing something and bringing these horrors to my attention I didnt really like the book and it became a chore to finish. The decision to go to China was very hurriedly dealt with and for such a big move they seemed poorly prepared.

The book starts with promise with a chinese woman abandoning her baby near the orphanage. However the rest of the book is a diary format of Kay's time in China and it became boring and repetitive. I was uneasy hoping t
Aug 27, 2008 rated it did not like it
Some painful and touching glimpses of a Chinese orphanage from the inside, buried in haystacks of mundane details of a American trying to live like an American in China. It's a vanity press book and the names and places have all been obscured, so there is no way of verifying the story in any way, which means it could be pure fiction...
Jan 21, 2013 rated it liked it
You open your eyes, and see darkness.

Wait, no, it's not exactly darkness. It's the moment before the sunrise, soon peering from the windows. It will be morning soon.

It's cold, very cold. They did not turn on the heaters again.

You shift uncomfortably on your wooden bed. You have bed sores all over, and you feel too stiff to move. Besides, you wouldn't really be able to move, as you're fastened to the bed with a clasp.

You long to get up, to be held, to feel human warmth. You, however, dread the in
Theresa Revilak
Oct 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was not the kind of book you just relax and read. It was a hard read, from the first page on to the end. I do a lot of orphan advocacy and I thought I knew a lot about orphanages, but reading it first hand, as someone who was there regularly and allowed in the rooms they normally do not allow people in, oh wow. I just have no words of the daily life for these kids. Kay worked with the babies especially and would try so hard to ease their life in every way she could. The workers in the ...more
Larry Bassett
Feb 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: china, wishlist
Our Chinese daughter came from the far western province of Xinjiang where a major culture is Uyghur muslims. This book takes place in an orphanage close to Beijing a very different area and dominated by Han Chinese the majority Chinese population. We adopted our daughter within the timeframe when this book was written as a special needs child. She came to us at the age of 3 1/2 with a repaired cleft lip but a remaining cleft palate. By US standards she was significantly malnourished and underwei ...more
Feb 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The writing was done well. I can't imagine being so involved emotionally day in and day out for those babies and feeling so helpless at times.
Nov 22, 2017 rated it did not like it
I wish I can give it less than 1 star.And I wish I had never read this book. All this book is about the author's hate to China, and she describe herself as a saint, every Chinese she met is disgusting, and what she need to do is save every life in China. --Thank you , Chinese people don't need a white woman like you , you can get back to your own "civilization".
Dec 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read and reviewed my own copy of this book for Wicked Reads.

This book was quite different from anything I have read before. It was more emotional and enlightening than I was expecting and I'm glad I read it.

Kay Bratt moves with her husband and daughter to China and there she is thrust into a completely different world with eye opening experiences that will impact her life forever. She finds herself trying to adjust to a new culture and decides to do some volunteering to help fill her time.
Sep 27, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ugh, I can't explain how irritated I was reading this book. One of the most annoying things the author chose to do was to write about happy things or things that she got something out of in the first person singular using "I", however, if a child "went missing" aka died (even though for some reason the author likes to put in alot of suspension of disbelief and thinks they went somewhere else other than the orphanage) she would talk in third person plural using "we." It made the book feel disinge ...more
MaryJo Dawson
Nov 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Kay Bratt's account of her years volunteering in a Chinese orphanage, only a decade ago, was both heart breaking and encouraging. She clearly shows what an individual can do to make a difference when determined to see a situation through. Seeing such need and deprivation was overwhelming at first, and like anyone else would have, she wondered if she could improve the lives of these children and bear to face the heartache on a regular basis. When the reader looks back with Ms. Bratt after three y ...more
Feb 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs
In 2003 Kay Bratt was leaving her comfortable life in the United States and heading to rural China for four years as her husband was sent there to head up a team that was opening a new factory. Amanda, their youngest daughter would be travelling to China with them but Kay’s eldest daughter, Heather, decided to stay in the United States and live with her birth father.

Kay’s first impression of China was disappointing at best and it took her quite some time to become used to the poverty, the over-c
Beth F.
Nov 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Like a book about an orphanage in China could be anything but incredibly depressing, this book lived up to my expectation of it. It began with a tragic story of a mother who was left no option but to abandon a child she was fully bonded to and loved deeply. Imagining myself in that mother’s shoes made it hard to breathe and I cried through most of the epilogue.

Whenever a book elicits such a strong physical reaction, one of two things usually happen:

1 – I fall in love
2 – I fall in hate

Oddly, thi
Evlyn Vander Vliet
Dec 16, 2015 rated it did not like it
After now finishing "Wish You Happy Forever" by Jenny Bowen, I'm changing my 3 star rating of "Silent Tears" to 1 star, mainly due to my disgust with Kay Bratt.

If you've read "Silent Tears," please go NOW and read Jenny Bowen's much more inspiring account of how she saw a need within China's orphanages and actually reached across cultures to do something about it, instead of simply whining and blaming the Chinese, to finally give up and go home (as Kay Bratt did).

I understand not all of us (cer
salena ponce
Dec 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I feel the need to defend this author. I don't think of her as privleged, she is simply an American who experienced extreme culture shock and wrote about her thoughts candidly. This is a memoir, so if you purchase the book, you should appreciate that. Why censor her thoughts? The story would not be genuine. In fact, I believe she is an amazing person who overcame numerous obstacles in a country where children weren't given the same opportunities that we grow up with. I believe that it is because ...more
Nov 16, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
dnf @ 22%

I don't want to read about how you think you're doing SUCH A GOOD (voluntary) THING, but you're annoyed by dumb stuff (how another volunteer dresses?), and you constantly get all worked up about cultural nuances. I also don't want to read about how you hold yourself to White Savior standards, and judge others for doing what they can in the circumstances (YES, even if that means some emotional detachment).

I don't know. If you know me in real life, you know I have a BIG heart for adoptio
Apr 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
[sigh] I haven't thought about orphanages for a long time. I think that life ebbs and flows--and I just haven't been in "that place" for a few years. This book is tough to read, but I found myself finding a redemptive element in the end; despite the not-so-happy ending.

Truthfully, based upon my own personal experiences, I've seen some of what she describes--and not just in Chinese orphanages. I think that this is a global issue. It is a difficult thing to think about when we have to consider the
Apr 12, 2010 rated it liked it
The author is an American expat living in a small town in China. She starts volunteering at an orphanage with awful conditions, and tries to bring some humanity to the lives of the poor children who are stuck there. Some of her descriptions are horrific and really made me wonder about the Chinese people: people who would abandon a girl child for no other reason than her gender, or abandon a child with a disability because of the shame it caused. An interesting if repetitive book. The woman seems ...more
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Madison Mega-Mara...: Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope... 1 3 Aug 16, 2012 11:59AM  
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Kay Bratt is the author of eleven full-length novels and two children’s books. Her writing became her solace and support while she navigated a tumultuous childhood, followed by a decade of abuse as an adult. After working her way through the hard years, Kay came out a survivor and a pursuer of peace—and finally found the courage to share her stories. A wise man once told her to “write what you kno ...more
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“the Chinese method, the outside of a high-rise building. They wrapped their legs around a rope while sitting on the paint bucket attached,” 0 likes
“other days I think that with more commitment and intervention,” 0 likes
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