Title: Chasing China
Author: Kay Bratt
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Opening lines: ‘…“Let her chase her dreams – remember, they almost always return home,” he murmurs as she leans her head on her shoulder, tears streaming down her face…’
Reading CHASING CHINA took me through a range of emotions – anger, sadness frustration and eventually joy. Mia is a Chinese girl who was adopted by an American family, a loving family. She has had a wonderful childhood but as she approaches adulthood she decides to fly to China and try and find her birth family.
All Mia knows is what her adoptive parents had been told – that she had been found wondering alone at a train station at around one year of age – and then spent three years in a state-run orphanage before being adopted at age four. Mia has set up an interpreter/guide and a tour of the orphanage that she had been adopted from. When she gets there she is horrified at the dilapidated building and fittings and at how the children are treated. There are so many children that in order to feed, clothe and educate them all every second of their day is strictly scheduled, and the nannies don’t have time to give praise or affection even if they wanted to. Mia wonders where all the generous donations given by the parents of the adopted children is actually going. The Director of the orphanage is reluctant to answer Mia’s questions and dismisses her with the promise of later, the next day her interpreter rings her and says the second meeting has been cancelled and she will get back to her later to reschedule. It doesn’t take Mia long to realise ‘later’ is not going to happen. Luckily she meets Jax another Chinese-American who is in China on an internship, who offers to help her. Mia also meets up with a group of foreign women; expatriates who are in China for a year or two, who have chosen the orphanage as a charity. Through the ladies, and Jax, Mia starts to learn more about life in China and hears of a secret organisation designed to link lost Chinese children with their parents. Can they help her before Mia gets into deep trouble; someone is trying very hard to stop her getting to the truth.
CHASING CHINA is a very interesting read. Author Kay Bratt spent time working in Orphanages in China so has first-hand experience. Bratt was able to talk in an easy to read way about Chinese culture, economic policies and the fall out as well as atrocities. She doesn’t condemn or praise various practices; she just states it how it is.
The characters were well developed and believable, it is a small book so there was not a lot of time to do super in depth character growth, but I think Brett handled it well. There was time for Jax and Mia to develop a relationship from passing buddies to something much deeper – but that was secondary to the search for Mia’s past, so didn’t intrude. The ending was possibly a little far-fetched but CHASING CHINA is fiction based on fact. Sadly I feel that many, many Chinese children will never know the true circumstances of how they came to be available for adoption – although what happened to Mia is certainly plausible for many cases – but getting the actual truth might not happen in many cases. Which is very sad.
Mia’s story, and the story of Chinese street kids, needs to be told. And there are ways that they can be helped.
Rating: B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.
For more about the author – Click Here