MINNEAPOLIS — "Beautiful Country: A Memoir" is now a New York Times best seller, notable book of 2021, and one of Barack Obama's favorite books of the year. Author Qian Julie Wang shares stories of her arrival from China into poverty in the richest country in the world as an undocumented child living in Brooklyn, New York in the mid-90s.
I am not Chinese. I was born in this country. But those are not requirements to empathize with Wang's story. All she requires is humanity.
Wang is strong in the effortless way she takes the reader back into their own childhood. When you discover how she pulls together words into sentences and descriptions, you might feel like you are reading the diary of a child. That's a gift to be able to find the voices of old versions of yourself by excavating what might feel like distant memories and somehow give readers what appears to be a true picture of the thoughts of a little girl in those many precarious, sometimes dangerous, and life-changing moments.
It might feel like a reflection of your diary in some instances.
Our country continues to tussle with what immigration policies should look like. This memoir feels like a bit of a reality check. A hardened reminder there are tolls taken on those human beings living in the shadows.
Wang gives us just a glimpse of the darkness, and in turn, sheds light into the shadows.
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