Beautiful Country - Qian Julie Wang

Beautiful Country

By Qian Julie Wang

  • Release Date: 2021-09-07
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
3 Score: 3 (From 80 Ratings)



An incandescent memoir from an astonishing new talent, Beautiful Country puts readers in the shoes of an undocumented child living in poverty in the richest country in the world.

"Extraordinary…Consider this remarkable memoir a new classic."—Publishers Weekly, *Starred Review*

In Chinese, the word for America, Mei Guo, translates directly to “beautiful country.” Yet when seven-year-old Qian arrives in New York City in 1994 full of curiosity, she is overwhelmed by crushing fear and scarcity. In China, Qian’s parents were professors; in America, her family is “illegal” and it will require all the determination and small joys they can muster to survive.
    In Chinatown, Qian’s parents labor in sweatshops. Instead of laughing at her jokes, they fight constantly, taking out the stress of their new life on one another. Shunned by her classmates and teachers for her limited English, Qian takes refuge in the library and masters the language through books, coming to think of The Berenstain Bears as her first American friends. And where there is delight to be found, Qian relishes it: her first bite of gloriously greasy pizza, weekly “shopping days,” when Qian finds small treasures in the trash lining Brooklyn’s streets, and a magical Christmas visit to Rockefeller Center—confirmation that the New York City she saw in movies does exist after all.
    But then Qian’s headstrong Ma Ma collapses, revealing an illness that she has kept secret for months for fear of the cost and scrutiny of a doctor’s visit. As Ba Ba retreats further inward, Qian has little to hold onto beyond his constant refrain: Whatever happens, say that you were born here, that you’ve always lived here.
    Inhabiting her childhood perspective with exquisite lyric clarity and unforgettable charm and strength, Qian Julie Wang has penned an essential American story about a family fracturing under the weight of invisibility, and a girl coming of age in the shadows, who never stops seeking the light.


  • Great book club pick

    By akbaird
    Beautiful Country is a deeply moving memoir that shows the struggles that this author’s family went through with living in poverty, dealing with racism, discrimination, learning English, and just trying to navigate the American life. The book begins with an account of her parents life in China growing up in political turmoil. This author then goes on to describe how her family immigrated to America on tourist Visas and how they lived undocumented. This author overcame so much to eventually become a lawyer! This debut author writes a remarkable book that’s puts the reader in the shoes of her families journey of being Chinese immigrants and gives them a understanding of what they went through. A book that will really open the readers eyes to to the horrors and accomplishments of their immigrant experience! It’s an inspiring read, so be sure to add to your Fall TBR list. A great book for book clubs!