Beautiful Country

Doubleday. Sept. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9780385547215. $28.95. MEMOIR
In this powerful debut, Wang reflects on her childhood experiences as an undocumented immigrant. Her family traveled to the United States to escape communist rule in China when she was seven years old. The family settled in Manhattan’s Chinatown, where they experienced disillusionment and poverty as they worked exploitative jobs while fearing the ever-present threat of deportation. Wang tells her family’s story from her then-perspective as a child who was attempting to understand her new life. She makes frequent comparisons to her life in China and the United States as she learns to navigate a new culture and language and finds solace in her small but powerful collection of books. Wang’s relationship with her parents becomes complicated when their mental health becomes more fragile, and her mother’s health declines. Finally, Wang’s mother feels compelled to make a change that will alter the family forever. Wang doesn’t gloss over the hardship and trauma she experienced as an undocumented immigrant in the United States. She movingly tells how undocumented families like hers are often overlooked and their experiences ignored.
VERDICT A haunting memoir of people and places that will stay with readers long after the last page.
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