Author writes well, but I had a problem with the format. Would've been great as a blog, or series of essays, or a (long) article; however, as a non-fiction book, the "Everything's from China!" point is made early on ... and then over and over again, reducing the book to a not-always-interesting memoir instead.
Although I thought this book was a quick, enjoyable read that got you thinking about the pervasiveness of âMade In Chinaâ products, I was bothered by the author's state of mind through much of the boycott. I'm not sure if she exaggerated for comic effect or was really that crazy or obsessed, but it started to rub me the wrong way. I do think it raises interesting questions about how many products are Made in Chinaâ¦.I defy anyone who reads this book to not start checking labels!!
Vitallia reviewed A Year Without 'Made in China': One Family's True Life Adventure in the Global Economy on
Helpful Score: 3
This book kept me entertained from the beginning. Though I doubt I too will attempt to go for a year without buying things made in China, the authors struggles have made me more aware of how difficult it is to find things made in other countries. Now, I find myself looking at the label and wondering "do I really need this." This is a book I would recommend to anyone, and is one I will more than likely read again.
I expected alot more from this book, since alot of friends raved about it. As a matter of fact, I forced myself to try to finish it, and finally gave up 3/4's of the way thru. It seemed the book was focused on the trouble she had getting her kids toys that weren't made in China, and a lot of time trying to figure out how to break her own rules, by asking other people to "gift" them things that were made in China.
Having enjoyed another similar book (that one on not buying anything for a year), I looked forward to this one. In some ways a harder challenge, since there are a lot more gray areas. I was hoping for an entertaining book with some solid information and causes for thought.
Unfortunately, the author dived into the challenge "just because" and didn't really get any farther. She didn't examine her lifestyle, the bigger picture, or do much research other than calling a few companies and catalogs to ask about where things were made.
This was shown most explicitly in explaining to her son why they were doing this. He grew more frustrated as the year went on, and if I'd received the explanations he did "so other countries can sell stuff also" I would have gotten frustrated as well. She needed to think about it herself before imposing it on her son--and she needed to look for ways to make it less frustrating for him.
Which brings me to another thing that drove me nuts about the author--she complained about everything she couldn't find, but she never tried another method. Re-use and gifts were allowed. She connived for gifts. She never set foot in a thift, resale, or consignment shop, let alone a rummage or garage sale. A lot of the toys she was so stressed out about could have been found (or equivalents) second hand. She missed a hugely obvious way to adjust lifestyle, buy nothing that came directly from China, and not cause her children stress.
She also missed a large teaching moment when she let her son buy a cheap plastic pumpkin that he was bored with a couple weeks later She started to ruminate on cheapness and how their life was better with less impulsive clutter--but she never actually delved into what would be a really interesting commentary on commercial culture illustrated by the amount of cheap made in china--nor did she take the chance to educate her son on deciding what is a worthwhile way to spend money--balancing cost and pleasure.
Was the book entertaining? Yes. Did it give any real cause to think, offer any larger picture items, give any indication the author learned anything or will make (or did make) any lifestyle changes because of her experiment? No--which is too bad. The book could have been so much more than fluff.
It fortunately is a quick read, because the entertainment was fading as it went on.
I have to admit that I'm a sucker for stories of those who've found interesting ways to curb their consumerism. I spent a year (2007) participating in the Compact - a vow not to buy anything new (other than food, medical necessities, and a few other exceptions), and I think it changed my life for the better. I enjoyed the author's honesty, her writing style and sense of humor. If you've ever challenged yourself to do something "just because" and discovered something about yourself in the process, you may identify with the author as I did.
I agree with other reviewers that I had higher expectations of this book. It was a quick read, but rather superficial and overall left me uninspired. As a geographer I was especially disappointed in her cavalier distinctions regarding Hong Kong & Macao.