"A lot is expected of a young Chinese girl. My Half of the Sky
by Jana McBurney-Lin is the story of Li Hui, a young girl who has just achieved marriageable age. She seeks to make the most of herself, but the expectations all around her make it difficult, as her parents seek to use her as pawn to their advantage, and she is faced with what she believes to be true love. She must balance career, romance, and family, all to somehow make everyone happy, a tough endeavor indeed. An engaging and entertaining read from beginning to end, My Half of the Sky
is a poignant tale of the modern Chinese woman, and recommended for community library collections.
—Midwest Book Review
November 6, 2008
"You'll be rooting all the way for Li Hui as she struggles, ahead of the curve, to be her own woman in an emerging, modern China. Jana McBurney-Lin's My Half of the Sky is a beautiful, witty, touching debut novel."
—Thomas B. Sawyer
best-selling author of The Sixteenth Man,
Head Writer of TV Series "Murder, She Wrote"
"McBurney-Lin tells a wonderfully entertaining story with the traditional coming-of-age theme (which is experienced universally)...weaving in the cultural challenges of growing up in China's rapidly changing social system."
—Mary Warpeha, US-China Friendship Association, Book Review, March 2010
"It is a rare womenís novel that sensitively describes the life of a young educated woman in modern-day China in its full complexity, without resorting to unnecessary sentimentalism. Janaís deep knowledge of the realities of life in China and Singapore makes the reading extra rewarding. In fact, with every new page the novel gets harder to put down and you find yourself gobbling it up before you know it. Finally, the author has given a voice to the Li Hui in all of us, as we struggle for the golden middle between tradition and the modern momentum of our world."
—Isabella Sluzek, Friends of the Museum Book Review, July 2008, Singapore
"A complex and mesmerizingly original tale of a young Chinese woman caught between the modern world and the pull of her ancient culture. McBurney-Linís intimate portrait of China sparks with insights and is peopled with characters so rich and alive, they seem to breathe on the page. Dazzling and unforgettable."
—Caroline Leavitt, Author, Girls in Trouble, Pictures of You
"McBurney-Lin's debut novel is a gift. Li Hui is a memorable heroine, a young woman torn between her heart and her culture.Her daunting journey is a trip into China's complicated soul, and a deeply moving exploration of love, honor, duty, and loss."
—Frank Baldwin, Author, Balling the Jack, Jake & Mimi
"My Half of the Sky heralds the arrival of a fantastic new storyteller. With artistry and precision, Jana McBurney-Lin's clear-eyed prose takes the reader on a new journey into a past world that speaks to a modern sensibility, a modern world, a modern woman. This is a book to be treasured."
—Emily Rapp, Author, The Poster Child
"My Half of the Sky is a hard book to put down, but you will force yourself to do so just to make the reading experience last longer."
Book Reviewer, Valley News
"My favorite book in the world is The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Doystoyevsky. My second favorite book in the world is My Half of the Sky by Jana McBurney-Lin."
Bookstore Owner, The Kaleidoscope: Our Focus is You, Hampton, IA
A beautifully written unique story about love, family obligations, and the Chinese culture. I couldn't put the book down and have recommended it to many friends! I won't say anything more so as not to give the story away...just that I've never been inspired to write an online review until now. You gotta read it!
My Half of the Sky is a character driven story that engages the reader from page one to page 533. I really identified with the main character Li Hui and found myself rooting for the good guys and snarling at the bad guys. The ending was a cliff hanger which makes me hopeful there just may be a sequel.
Fascinating and wonderful story of a smart, thoughtful young woman from a traditional Chinese family and her search for love and a meaningful life. This book is a real page-turner and a dellight from start to finish.
Very few books have hit me the way this book has. Something about Li Hui's voice has gotten into the pores of my skin and stayed with me, even during the hours I'm not actually reading it. As I go through my day, I seem to see things differently, with a shifted perspective. I'll wonder why, and then it connects up–it's the book, still in my mind, in my senses.
A wonderful read–I highly recommend it.
On a long plane ride across the country, My Half of the Sky made time fly. From the first chapter, plan on being compelled by Li Hue's journey and her "voice" in describing what happens. Books are page-turners either because they have a riveting plot, a richly-drawn character, or if they are well-written. In My Half of the Sky, you can count on all of the above.
It's terrific. I've had no sleep because I couldn't put it down! The back cover describes it as "If Jane Austin were to write about women in modern China". I highly recommend it.
The independent bookstore newsletter, BookSense, is great at highlighting books that you otherwise might miss. So it is with one of its August picks, "My Half of the Sky," which has an off-beat publisher and could easily be lost in the shuffle. For readers who like novels about China, it is a treat. "My Half" brings us a modern China that doesn't include zippy, hooked-up urbanites or the ghost-haunted past. And yet, Li Hui's story could be set in just about any era, proving that the more things change . . . you know where I'm going with this.
Li Hui trains to be a teacher but when her father does not approve of the posting she receives, it's back home to her "village," which is how she refers to her hometown of a million people. She wants to be a modern woman and hold up her half of the sky (as in the Mao saying "women hold up half the sky") although culture and her own personality will make that difficult. Filial duty is foremost to her, even though her father is a shameless gambler who is always putting the family in a bind. She is reduced to standing in the park holding a sign that reads "tutor." The matchmaker is scouting marriage possibilities even though Li Hui is a poor prospect because she is educated and has a shifty dad. The girl is earnest, hardworking, and obedient. She tries to make the best of everything. Watching her struggle to cope when surprising possibilities spring up is pretty interesting.
Author Jana McBurney-Lin lived many years in Asia, and her familiarity with regular people's everyday lives is what gives "My Half" its appeal. Some of the writing is a little awkward, there are some editing glitches and the conclusion is a little far-fetched, but I enjoyed "My Half" from start to finish. This is the real China. Go visit.
I loved this book! I loved the characters, the rich descriptions of life in China, and the deep insights revealed throughout the book. Jana McBurney-Linn's story of a young girl in China struggling with a changing culture is universal and so relevant to today's world. This is an important book which kept me up far too late for many nights!
Li Hui's struggle to honor her parents and herself in modern China is told with humor and wisdom. The characters feel so authentic from the petty tea shop employer who resents Li's ideas that make the shop successful to the mother-in-law who only sees Li as a means to grandchildren. Each carefully laid plan for her life is overturned by her father's ever increasing gambling debts and finally Li has to defy his wishes and take back her own life. The American woman married to the Chinese professor in Singapore seen through Li's eyes is revealing and often made me laugh at the truth of the caricature. I think you will enjoy this Chinese female journey of self-discovery.
A delightful book, giving a poignant picture of life in the new China. I had just returned from a tourist's two week bird's eye view of China when I read it. Our tour guide could have been a stand in for Li Hui. She was a young, attractive college graduate. She, too, was an only child, having been hidden from scrutiny for being (gasp) a girl! Now, as the sole support of aging parents she was facing many decisions: to continue in the tourism business, which she loved, or give it up and return to her village.
Can't wait for the continuation of the story!
This is an interesting drama taking place in modern China. It is told lovingly by McBurney-Lin who is obviously highly knowledgeable about her subject. The book spells out the relationship between the protagonist and her parents, and recounts a love story very much in the spirit of new China.
Margaret R. Davis, Author and Sociologist
This story invites you into the living room of a typical Chinese family and allows you to eavesdrop on their lives. The phone is still in the store next door, but there are people using cell phones on the street. You follow Li Hui through her job search, which does not include anything online, and then to her temporary job at a tea shop. She learns the customs associated with drinking tea, steeped in tradition and not accepting of change, just like her world.
In her village, the reader learns the humble and traditional ways of the people, the dangers of trusting official, and the bond that makes us all very much alike even when we are born and raised so differently, which is: how can we take care of our family? And somewhere along the way, if someone is lucky enough to fall in love, how hard will it be to defend that relationship from a society determined to tear it apart?
Suddenly, just when you think you understand the ways of the small village, Li Hui is whisked away to Singapore, where all the old rules don't apply and yet they must be respected. This tug of war between tradition and the modern world strips the characters to their souls and gives readers greater insight into not just an ancient culture, but the human condition.
Reading McBurney-Lin's My Half of the Sky gave me insight into modern China normally not allowed most Westerners. The depth of the story is increased by the parables that accompany the characters' actions. Her characters not only tell a fascinating story, but in a way that challenges how you view their culture.
|For the Western mindset, the heroine of My Half of the Sky gives her rights away too easily. How hard it is for us to understand the familial obligations and social intricacies of China...The book moves at a slower pace, with the rhythms of a world alien to me, but McBurney-Lin takes Li Hui on a journey that is a revelation, as well as a coming-of-age story. No, the story doesn't zing along, but give it time and you'll find yourself walking with Li Hui and caring about her decision and burdens.
|After the epic memoirs that I've read of Chinese repression and hardship during the Cultural Revolution, Jana McBurney-Lin's My Half of the Sky is a refreshing and insightful look at modern China...It is a well-told tale of a young woman's choices that many Western women may find bewildering, but McBurney-Lin so skillfully shows us the pressures on Li Hui that we begin to understand and see that her spirit and ambitions are not so different from our own.
This book is a must-read for anyone, particularly young women striving to understand how culture shapes our behaviors. I bought this as a Christmas present for my 17-year-old niece...
Prose Less Taken
| I just finished reading My Half of the Sky and it is a real page-turner. I felt I was walking alongside of Li Hui. All the characters in the story came alive. I also enjoyed the Chinese sotries and the way they were woven into Li Hui's way of thinking and the events that surrounded her.
I felt Li Hui was in a constant battle of who she was, what she wanted, and the role she was expected to take. Sometimes it seemed that she blindly fell into a role another times she just ignored her own intuition. I really enjoyed reading the story and the consequences she had for all the choices she made.
I read this book in three days and couldn't put it down. I will recommend it to my book club and am sure that they will feel the same as I did.
|My book club continues to rave about your visit. Thank you so much for coming. I enjoyed hearing you read.
|Though set in emerging modern China, My Half of the Sky is actually a universal tale of trying to live both within the confines of somebody's dee-rooted cultural traditions, upheld by the older generations, and the struggles by the younger generation to create their own freedom from those constraints. Bay Area writer Jana McBurney-Lin handles this struggle with great finesse and keeps you turning the pages to see how Li Hui will make in a world that seems stacked against her.
Robert A. Garfinkle, Reviewer
|It is a rare women's novel that sensitively describes the life of a young educated woman in modern-day China in its full complexity, without resorting to unnecessary sentimentalism. The author's deep knowledge of the realities of life in China and Singapore makes the reading extra rewarding. In fact, with every new page the novel gets harder to put down and you find yourself gobbling it up before you know it. FInally, Jana has given a voice to the Li Hui in all of us, as we struggle for the golden middle between tradition and the demands of the modern world.
Isabella Kosla-Sluzek, Reviewer, Friends of the Museum, Singapore
|I enjoyed the details of modern-day China while itching at the gender inequities. This book drops you into a whole other world--one that I felt honored to experience from what felt like the authentic inside.
It seems so many novels about China focus on past eras; it was refreshing and quite pertinent to read a novel that takes place in China's current times.
Kate Evans, Author For the May Queen
|Since I lived in China and my college students shared many of theire thoughts with me, I was very impressed with Jana McBurney-Lin's skill in conveying those thoughts through her inner dialogue and of the actions of other characters. I thought the book was great, and I want to read a sequel.
|I savored the read of this book. Every part of it is a very real personal glimpse into life in China as we Americans don't know it. Jana McBurney-Lin is a marvelous story teller and the story she tells is masterfully done. I have bought several copies for my friends and family. This isn't just a good read. This is a book to share."
Carol Wood, Reviewer
|Jana McBurney-Lin has penned a beautiful story of a young Chinese girl, Li Hui, who struggles to find her place in the world. The author successfully takes the reader on a captivating journey to China and into the innocent mind of Li Hui.
My Half of the Sky is one of those books you'll remember for lifetime. I know I will.
|I loved this book. Jana McBurney-Lin captured the sights and smells and sounds of Li Hui's village. I had great empathy for Li Hui and did not want this book to end. What an adventure!
Kay Dennis Robinson
|I usually only read mystery books but someone suggested this book so I tried it and could not put it down. I keep checking to see if the author has anymore books out. I haven't seen any but I keep hoping!
Holly, September 7, 2011
|I enjoyed the insights into Chinese village life of the rapidly changing 1990's, especially the limitations and expectations of a young woman finding her place in this society. The information from historical research weaved into a page-turner of a novel!
Ann Harbin, Kansas City, October 9, 2011