Often brilliant, insightful, humorous, poignant and certainly unflinchingly descriptive, this book was a rewarding read. I learned much about the lives of young, ambitious Chinese girls leaving their home provinces to find work in Dongguan or Guangdong assembling electronic parts or working on handbags in crowded, hectic factories.
The author details the various fleeting accomplishments, relationships, ambitions and the social stratas involved in the lives of a few girls like Min and Chunming, who you will come to know quite well.
Chang has a knack for letting scenes speak for themselves – “On weekend afternoons, the Hopeful Computer Training Center was crowded with workers sitting at computers learning Word and Excel. (A sign outside advertised, in English, Microsoft Worb.)” She takes you on hilarious side trips into hyped up etiquette training sessions and inane adventures of an “Assembly Line English” training academy along with the fun involved at the Donnguan Making Friends Club.
Underneath this interesting, personal and often twisting travelogue through Chinese cities is the author’s own homecoming to her ancestral hometown of Liutai.
The book ends with an interesting look at Chunming, ever trying to reinvent herself, venturing into direct sales in the area of health foods. You’ll get an inside view of a company sales convention and the goings on there.
Be prepared to learn and laugh too.