By Qian Julie Wang
Rating: 5/5 Stairs
Beautiful Country is a really beautifully written, page turning, and at (many) times a heart-breaking memoir. Ms. Wang writes about her experience as a young child (age seven) traveling to the United States from China and the struggles she and her mother and father faced living in the U.S. as undocumented immigrants. Her story is uniquely told through the eyes and understanding of a child leaving the life she knew and the struggles and hardships she finds in this strange new world.
Ms. Wang vividly describes the struggles she faced – working in a sweat shop, having no understanding of the English language, constant fear of deportation, very little money for basic needs – and the toll these took on her family. Her story is one of both struggle and perseverance, and at times she finds joy in the simplest things – discovering Clifford the Big Red Dog, family dumplings on Sunday, teaching herself English at school.
At times this memoir was difficult to read, thinking about this child living in poverty in a strange country, her parents – highly educated professionals in China – barely able to feed and cloth her. It is a moving and important look at the “American Dream” and the struggles immigrants face when they make the decision to leave everything behind in the hopes for a better life.