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Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother: Stories of Loss and Love
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Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother: Stories of Loss and Love

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  1,750 Ratings  ·  253 Reviews
Following her internationally bestselling book The Good Women of China, Xinran has written one of the most powerful accounts of the lives of Chinese women. Her searing stories of mothers who have been driven to abandon their daughters or give them up for adoption is a masterful and significant work of literary reportage and oral history.

Xinran has gained entrance to the m

Hardcover, 239 pages
Published March 8th 2011 by Scribner (first published 2010)
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Petra Eggs
This was a rant, now it's a review.

This book is the back story to all those little Chinese girls people from the West adopt. It's heartbreaking to see that the Chinese government with its policies on land grants and extra food distribution - on the birth of a boy child only - together with the one-child policy have set the scene for the murder of new-born baby girls, which is expected and never prosecuted. Those who can't bear to 'do' (as the euphemism goes) their daughters, or pay the midwife t
Larry Bassett
Feb 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone involved with adoptions of girls from China
Shelves: china, nonfiction
I have an adopted Chinese daughter. We call her Mei Mei which means little sister in Mandarin. I think about her birth parents regularly and imagine that they must think about her as well. In the orphanage she was called Fu Ping. She was born in Aksu, Xinjiang, China but she is pretty much an American child now at the age of nine. She came to us from China at the age of 3 underweight, speaking no English, shy, and eating every morsel of food on her plate down to the last grain of rice. From her ...more
Jul 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Xinran is that rare, rare non-fiction writer that puts you completely into her interview conversations, as if you were standing next to her or sitting beside sucking up the bowl of noodles one at a time, just as she is. And listening.

Not only with accurate dialog but with each figment of emotional or locational context to that exact interview. And in doing so she imbeds you within the cultural and societal diameters of all consequence and onus. She is a gifted writer with an incredible backgroun
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Xinran has given myself and all others adopted from China such an incredible gift by writing this book. Before reading this book, I had a very different-and angry-way of viewing my traumatic situation. Her heartwrenching stories about the Chinese mothers' situation has changed everything for me. Each time Xinran told a story about a Chinese mother I would think, this could be MY birth mother. She painted a mental portrait in my mind of a woman who brought me into the world, and a woman who, thou ...more
Indira Iljas
Feb 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: china
Memiliki anak laki-laki nampaknya masih merupakan hal dominan yang diinginkan oleh setiap keluarga. Dari masa kehamilan awal, banyak orang yang menginginkan anak pertama mereka adalah laki-laki. Masih menurut kepercayaan yang dianut oleh masyarakat, memiliki anak laki sebagai anak pertama tentunya diharapkan dapat terus melangsungkan generasi penerus keturunan, disamping dengan memiliki anak laki maka akan banyak pula keuntungan yang didapatkan oleh sebuah keluarga. Dan sepertinya hal ini masih ...more
Lisa Dyer
Feb 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Journalist, women's advocate, and adoption charity director/founder, Xinran provides an incredible insight into the stories and insights into the women and their families in China who give up their daughters.

Intercountry adoption is a personal interest of mine, and I found this book heartbreaking and an eye opener. There are so many reasons why children are abandoned or worse in China. Many people immediately turn to the 'one child policy' as a blanket reason. There are pressures from family to
Jun 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Any family thinking about adopting a child from China, MUST read this book! It lays out the laws of adoption, gives extremely credible cultural perspective and gives a compassionate voice to and for the many Chinese women who, heartbreakingly, were forced to abandon or place their beloved children in orphanages.

Xinran does an incredible job at addressing the unimaginable heartache and pain millions of Chinese mothers suffered as they were pressured to abandon their children in the street, leave
André Sá
Feb 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vamos ler mais mulheres! Livro incrível e extremamente triste... recomendo a todos como forma de compreender os desafios e sacrifícios que mulheres em outras culturas tem que superar
Sep 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm a devoted reader of Xinran's books, beginning with The Good Women of China, which transformed the world view of anyone who read it and who cared at all about the world's biggest country. Her writing lays out clearly the realities of modern China and helps you understand what that country is about by speaking openly of topics that virtually every other writer keeps taboo. In doing so, Xinran both brings China closer and makes it seem more strange. For example, anyone can understand the heartb ...more
Sophie VERStand
Xinran schildert in ihrem Buch 10 Schicksale von Frauen, die aufgrund der 1-Kind-Politik in China ihre Tochter weggeben mussten/töteten oder selbst zu diesen verlorenen Töchtern zählten.
Die Vielfältigkeit der verschiedenen Erfahrungen hat mich sehr schockiert. Eine Gesellschaft, in der Frauen als deutlich minderwertiger betrachtet werden als Männer, ist einfach grauenvoll.
Dank des Unwissens über Genetik in gewissen Landesteilen werden die Frauen [vor allem in ländlichen Regionen] dann verstoßen
Erica T
Jun 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was an intriguing book detailing the conditions in China that have lead to the abandonment or murder of newborn girls in China. I assumed the one-child policy was the main/only reason but the book also addresses the land grants and food distributions for families with boys rather than girls as well as the need to have a son to carry on the family line.

Xinran has met with and received letters from many Chinese women who have faced the dilemma of giving birth to a girl and how their choice t
Mar 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: saggistica
Il fenomeno dell'abbandono delle bambine nelle zone rurali della Cina è tristemente noto, ha radici profonde e antichissime legato al poco valore che l'essere donna ha in quel paese. Ma le testimonianze raccolte e narrate dalla giornalista Xinran non hanno uno scopo divulgativo o di approfondimento sociologico; vogliono essere d'aiuto a tutte quelle bambine adottate all'estero che si chiedono: "chi sono? Perché mia madre non mi ha voluta? Non c'è risposta, lo sappiamo, ma Xinran vuole dire che l ...more
Apr 02, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm having a hard time quite knowing how to rate this book, it was a hard book to read in a lot of ways. I'm a mother of three beautiful China dolls and for that reason I read this book. I wanted to be able to understand and be able answer the questions I know will come up some day. Although I had some idea why these beautiful girls were and are abandoned, this book gave me a better idea AND coming from Chinese women's perspective helped even more. Someday when my girls are ready and wanting to ...more
This book has to be one of the most eye-opening, heart wrenching and influential books I have read this year. It tells the story of Chinese mothers who were oppressed under the rule of socialism and the one-child policy, and who had to abandon their daughters to orphanages, streets and hospitals, or who even had to kill their own child. The stories are awful. I never knew the actual ramifications of the one-child policy and how it has affected the Chinese people especially in the rural area. I'm ...more
Kawtar Morchid
Dec 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gloomy, 2016
Poignant and sad stories about mothers who abandoned their children. The reasons were quite diverse but they were all due to social pressure.An enlighetning novel on the consequences of the single child policy in China. A must read for anybody who wants to have an insight on the conditions of abandoned girls in china.
Oct 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everybody should read this book. It's such a powerful and important read. I cried multiple times while reading it.
La Cina è lontana, la Cina è in crescita, la Cina ha una popolazione enorme che mangia i gatti e i cani, che sfrutta i lavoratori, che non muore mai quando emigra all'estero, che non fa benzina ai distributori. Cos'altro sappiamo? Quanto di più conosciamo dietro ai luoghi comuni sulle pagine dei nostri giornali, quando va a fuoco una fabbrica tessile, quando qualcuno nomina la politica del figlio unico? Xinran ci racconta il dramma di quella politica che ha costretto migliaia di famiglie ad abba ...more
Feb 16, 2012 rated it liked it
(See more of my reviews at

Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother: Stories of Loss and Love by Xinran
It seems that most Americans know someone who has adopted a baby from overseas (and by “know” I don’t mean read about Angelina Jolie’s growing menagerie in the weekly tabloids), many of those being baby girls from China. There is endless speculation about why the adoption rates coming out of China were so large for so long (they’ve fallen off precipitously in
Xinran has written a love letter. It is written from the heart of China to all her adoptive daughters that are spread throughout the world. Like all love stories, beauty, pain, self-sacrifice, commitment, endurance, separation and reunification are all themes. Xinran pierces the silence of Chinese women, illuminating the complex realities of the one-child policy, abandonment, adoption, social relationships, poverty and survival. It is a difficult read, full of harsh realism. It is not a book you ...more
Rolly Stardust
Questa recensione la trovate su La Biblioteca di Amarganta

E’ nel giorno di Santa Lucia che mi accingo a scrivere questa recensione. Per qualche motivo mi sembra appropriato.
Ho pensato a lungo a questo libro, e a come scrivere questa recensione. Tuttora non so bene cosa dire o come impostarla.
Vi so solo dire che io non ho pianto: mai, dall’inizio alla fine, ho versato una sola lacrima. Non so se è perchè non sono madre, non sono adottata, non sono cinese o non sono umana, ma non ho pianto. Ma non
Interessante saggio sul problema "bambine" in Cina.
Xinran, una giornalista, è una donna fortunata: nata femmina, è stata pur sempre tenuta dalla famiglia d'origine. Uno dei suoi maggiori rimpianti però è il non essersi mai sentita amata dalla madre. Questa mancanza la spinge ad approfondire il tema della nascita di bambine in territorio cinese, specie durante la triste legge del figlio unico. Gli episodi raccontati variano per geografia: dai villaggi rurali che sembrano fermi a qualche secolo pr
May 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was hesitant to read this book because I knew how emotional it was going to be. Working in adoption, specifically as the coordinator of the waiting child program in China for my adoption agency, I work as an advocate to find families for these sweet children who have been abandoned by their birth families. I know the reasons why they are abandoned. I know the political and cultural reasons and what the research says. I know there are no other reasons or methods for these little ones to be plac ...more
I think most people in the world know about China's one-child policy and the baby girls who are often aborted, abandoned, adopted out, or killed after birth. This book is a compiled by a native of China who works in broadcast and journalism. She shares stories of women she sought out for interviews and women she came across in the course of her work or in her daily life.
If there is anyone who thinks that the women who rid themselves of their baby girls in whatever way are heartless, this book w
Apr 03, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author Xinran wrote this book to help children who were given up for adoption to understand the circumstances which lead to their mothers making such a decision. The book is essentially ten chapters covering ten different circumstances which led to children being abandones. Throught the stories she is able to talk about political, economic and other forces placed on women in China over the past fifty years in particular. As well she is able to trace the development of state sponsored orphana ...more
May 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cina
le figlie di cui la Cina pensava di poter fare a meno

Sono anni che in Cina le bambine vengono considerate una disgrazia,
l'ignoranza, la politica del figlio unico e infine la sciagurata procedura di assegnazione della terra fanno si che chi partorisce una femmina decida di abbandonarla, o addirittura ucciderla, per tentare di avere un maschio.
l'autrice è una giornalista che si è accollata lo straziante compito di indagare la realtà attuale del fenomeno, ascoltare le donne che si sono sentite in d
Il libro è una sorta di inchiesta sul fenomeno diffuso dell'abbandono delle figlie femmine da parte delle famiglie cinesi, una 'sorta' perche' e' molto incentrato sul carattere sentimentale di tale fenomeno (il titolo in inglese e' "Message from an unknown Chinese mothers: stories of loss and love"), in cui e' assente qualsiasi aspetto di ricerca scientifica: sono vari racconti in cui l'autrice espone alcune vicende realmente avvenute di cui e' stata testimone in prima persona. Per quanto possa ...more
Michelle Sallay
May 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It feels weird to give this book anything less than 5 stars, but in all honesty I'm not sure I will ever give a non-fiction 5 stars...:)

I'm in the middle of the adoption process for China and this book is a must read for anyone considering adoption in China or adoption in general. Actually, I think this book should be required reading for teenagers in the United States so that they can have a sliver of understanding of what it is like to be born into a country that promises you nothing.

The stor
Mar 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A tragic and enlightening look into mothers and baby girls in China. It is written for Chinese girls that have been adopted by foreign families, so that they can have an idea of why their mothers may have given them up, and to know where they came from. Written by Xinran, a Chinese woman who had a radio show and collected stories of women all over China. As she studied these women, she learned more and more about the stories of mothers who had to give up their babies.

So many stories, so many wo
Jessica  Fraser
May 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Another book of heartbreaking stories from Chinese women, these from mothers (and fathers) whi give up daughters for various reasons: ignorance of sexual functions, and ending up unmarried and alone and pregnant; old traditions of sons being firstborn and earning land; being too busy working to give a child a good life; being unable to support the baby, leaving it at an orphanage, and upon returning to claim the child the place is closed and the babies gone; wanting a daughter to have a good lif ...more
Dorothy Fleming
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Took me a long time to read this. Had to put it down every so often, because of the sad stories.
Some hit too close to home. I feel so bad for the heart-broken mothers, for the way their girls were treated and the awful ending for some of those poor baby girls.
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2017 Reading Chal...: Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother 1 12 May 20, 2015 06:23PM  
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  • The Chan's Great Continent: China in Western Minds
  • Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage
Xue Xinran, who usually writes as simply "Xinran", was a radio broadcaster in China before moving to Great Britain and beginning to publish books. She currently writes as a columnist.
More about Xinran...

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