An incredibly accurate depiction of a Chinese-immigrant family who fled to America after Tiananmen Square incident. However, I fear this book is written almost *too* specifically for the aforementioned demographic. As a Chinese-American, I could pick up on the voice of frustration hidden in the protagonists narrative, but I honestly feel those who have little knowledge of Tiananmen Square will only be confused by this book. For one thing, I feel people will be confused why most of the Chinese depicted in the novel, many with advanced degrees, would not only voluntarily find menial labour jobs, but that they would enjoy it. Also, Americans have great trouble understanding how many Chinese families live separately- husband and wife in different countries, child living with grandparents- for the sake of immigration policies/laws. And finally, unless one has experienced it firsthand, it is really hard to understand the extent and gravity of oppression suffered by many in China during that time. This book, though well written, was entirely too personal for most to fully enjoy.
I loved this book. And as an American-American, I still managed to pick up on the different subtleties Ha Jin worked into the narrative as he describes Nan, Pingping, and Taotao's struggles with their homeland and America. Don't think that just because you don't have a similar heritage as the author you can't enjoy this book. Besides, Ha Jin proves over and over again that he writes in a (beautiful) way that makes even a story like this very easy for anyone to relate to.