The Lost Daughters of China is that rare book that can be many things to different people. Part memoir, part travelogue, part East-West cultural commentary, and part adoption how-to, Karin Evans's book is greater than the sum of its parts. Evans weaves together her experience of adopting a Chinese infant with observations about Chinese women's history and that country's restrictive, if unevenly enforced, reproductive policies. She and her husband adopted Kelly Xiao Yu in 1997, and anyone curious about adopting from a Chinese orphanage--which houses girls and disabled boys--will learn about the mechanics and the emotional freight of the two-year process. Borrowing an image from Chinese folklore, Evans conveys herself, her husband, and their daughter as tethered by a red string that yoked them across an ocean and an equally awesome cultural divide.
The elegant prose is spiced with bits of ironic cultural dissonance. A discount shopper, Evans "felt more than a little strange buying China-made [baby] clothes with which to bundle up a tiny baby, one of China's own, and bring her home." On a bus tour through southern China, she is one of a "bunch of Americans with Chinese infants singing 'Que Sera Sera' in the middle of a sea of traffic. Will she be happy? Will she be rich?" To suddenly hear Doris Day over the horns of a Kowloon traffic jam is heady stuff indeed.
The Lost Daughters of China is at its best when describing Evans's tally of emotional loss and gain. At one point the bureaucratic adoption process is unaccountably delayed, but her father dies during that time and she's able to sit by his bedside. The most mysterious example of this emotional calculus is Kelly's birth mother. Evans invents many plausible scenarios that caused this unknown woman to abandon her three-month-old daughter at a market. These incomplete, necessarily provisional stories help give a face to the larger cultural processes that compel new parents to abandon 1.7 million girl babies annually. The stuff of headlines--human rights, infanticide, rural and urban poverty--is rendered personally relevant in Evans's compelling book. --Kathi Inman Berens
"This book calls attention to the pressing issues of abandoned baby girls in China, the result of a combination of historical and cultural prejudices against women and the current draconian, one-child policy. The Lost Daughters of China is an evocative memoir that will not only attract parents or would-be parents of Chinese baby girls but will touch the hearts of us all." (Chicago Tribune)
Proclaimed an instant classic upon its hardcover publication, The Lost Daughters of China is at once compelling and informative. Journalist Karin Evans tells the story of adopting her daughter, Kelly, who was once one of the hundreds of thousands of infant girls who wait for parents in orphanages all over China. Weaving her personal account with extensive research, Evans investigates the conditions that have led to generations of abandoned Chinese girls and a legacy of lost women.
With a new epilogue added for the paperback edition, this book will appeal to anyone interested in China and in the emotional ties that connect people regardless of genes or culture. In the words of bestselling novelist Amy Tan, The Lost Daughters of China is "not only an evocative memoir on East-West adoption but also a bridge to East-West understanding of human rights in China."
If You Enjoy "The Lost Daughters of China (Paperback)", May We Also Recommend: