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Made in China: A Memoir of Love and Labor

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A young girl forced to work in a Queens sweatshop calls child services on her mother in this powerful debut memoir about labor and self-worth that traces a Chinese immigrant's journey to an American future. As a teen, Anna Qu is sent by her mother to work in her family's garment factory in Queens. At home, she is treated as a maid and suffers punishment for doing her ho A young girl forced to work in a Queens sweatshop calls child services on her mother in this powerful debut memoir about labor and self-worth that traces a Chinese immigrant's journey to an American future. As a teen, Anna Qu is sent by her mother to work in her family's garment factory in Queens. At home, she is treated as a maid and suffers punishment for doing her homework at night. Her mother wants to teach her a lesson: she is Chinese, not American, and such is their tough path in their new country. But instead of acquiescing, Qu alerts the Office of Children and Family Services, an act with consequences that impact the rest of her life. Nearly twenty years later, estranged from her mother and working at a Manhattan start-up, Qu requests her OCFS report. When it arrives, key details are wrong. Faced with this false narrative, and on the brink of losing her job as the once-shiny start-up collapses, Qu looks once more at her life's truths, from abandonment to an abusive family to seeking dignity and meaning in work. Traveling from Wenzhou to Xi'an to New York, Made in China is a fierce memoir unafraid to ask thorny questions about trauma and survival in immigrant families, the meaning of work, and the costs of immigration.


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A young girl forced to work in a Queens sweatshop calls child services on her mother in this powerful debut memoir about labor and self-worth that traces a Chinese immigrant's journey to an American future. As a teen, Anna Qu is sent by her mother to work in her family's garment factory in Queens. At home, she is treated as a maid and suffers punishment for doing her ho A young girl forced to work in a Queens sweatshop calls child services on her mother in this powerful debut memoir about labor and self-worth that traces a Chinese immigrant's journey to an American future. As a teen, Anna Qu is sent by her mother to work in her family's garment factory in Queens. At home, she is treated as a maid and suffers punishment for doing her homework at night. Her mother wants to teach her a lesson: she is Chinese, not American, and such is their tough path in their new country. But instead of acquiescing, Qu alerts the Office of Children and Family Services, an act with consequences that impact the rest of her life. Nearly twenty years later, estranged from her mother and working at a Manhattan start-up, Qu requests her OCFS report. When it arrives, key details are wrong. Faced with this false narrative, and on the brink of losing her job as the once-shiny start-up collapses, Qu looks once more at her life's truths, from abandonment to an abusive family to seeking dignity and meaning in work. Traveling from Wenzhou to Xi'an to New York, Made in China is a fierce memoir unafraid to ask thorny questions about trauma and survival in immigrant families, the meaning of work, and the costs of immigration.

30 review for Made in China: A Memoir of Love and Labor

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jesse bowtiesandbooks

    This book is written on the walls of my heart.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    I was a ghost haunting a family that wanted nothing to do with me, and the loneliness left a tightness in my chest.~from Made in China by Anna Qu One thing I have learned in my reading is that trauma is passed through generations. Grandparents and parents do not share what haunts them, the terrors they saw or the hardships they endured. But it changes who they are, their behavior, and how they raise the next generation. Anna Qu's mother insisted that the world was a hard, unfair place and not to e I was a ghost haunting a family that wanted nothing to do with me, and the loneliness left a tightness in my chest.~from Made in China by Anna Qu One thing I have learned in my reading is that trauma is passed through generations. Grandparents and parents do not share what haunts them, the terrors they saw or the hardships they endured. But it changes who they are, their behavior, and how they raise the next generation. Anna Qu's mother insisted that the world was a hard, unfair place and not to expect anything from life. Qu was expected to earn every bite of food, the roof over her head and a bed in the basement. In her early teens, she worked in the family sweat shop fifty hours a week and then acted as the family maid at home. When Qu's father died, her mother knew she could not remarry in a China with a one child law; she already had one child and no man would want her. So, she immigrated to America and found work in a sweat shop, leaving her daughter with her parents in China. Beautiful and hard working, she caught the eye of the factory owner; they married and had two children before Qu was summoned to join them in America. Qu had been told that life in America would be easy, with lots of food and toys and love. But the fatherless girl was treated like a burden, a dependent on her benevolent step-father, an outsider who had to earn her keep. The family indulged in conspicuous consumption, her mother wearing high end fashions while her step siblings were lavished with gifts, while Qu did not have enough to eat, no private property, and was treated like the lowest servant. Qu's memoir is filled with disturbing scenes. Her parents left the factory for home before Qu's shift ended. By car, they were home in thirty minutes. Later in the evening, Qu took mass transit, an hour long journey. She describes her vulnerability, how a man exposed himself to her and how she had to elude his following her. She came home to a dark house and a cold plate of food. Qu had idealized her grandmother who had raised her in China after her mother left. Later, she tells Qu that she had been a hard mother as well, just one of generations of women who had to fight to survive. From her grandmother, Qu learns of the bitterness of women's lives, how they must be ruthless to survive, and to teach the next generation to survive. When Qu sought help through Child Services, they gave her short term counseling but did not report that she was abused. The beatings, the neglect, the violence, the lack of love, the lack of concern, the work in the sweatshop were not enough. But her mother was told to allow Qu to keep the money she earned. Qu studied hard. Books were her passion. She got herself into college and graduate school without financial or emotional support from her mother. Qu, like her mother, beat the odds and became successful, each in her own way. She still struggles with her past. It is certain her mother did, too. Overcoming hardship, the immigrant experience, the place of women in society and the family, what it takes to survive--it is all in this affecting and honest memoir. I received a free egalley from the publisher through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Elena L.

    [3.5/5 stars] "She was my mother and I was her daughter." MADE IN CHINA is a memoir about Anna Qu, a Chinese immigrant's woman. It starts with her mother leaving China to follow her American dream. Qu then lives with her grandparents for five years before being reunited with her mother in America. This memoir read like a Chinese drama based on how absurd was Qu's reality. In Queens, her mother favored her half-siblings at home, she is treated as a maid and she had to work long hours at the garmen [3.5/5 stars] "She was my mother and I was her daughter." MADE IN CHINA is a memoir about Anna Qu, a Chinese immigrant's woman. It starts with her mother leaving China to follow her American dream. Qu then lives with her grandparents for five years before being reunited with her mother in America. This memoir read like a Chinese drama based on how absurd was Qu's reality. In Queens, her mother favored her half-siblings at home, she is treated as a maid and she had to work long hours at the garment factory. In addition to the cultural shock - changing from freedom to order - Qn felt the isolation, loneliness and became resentful towards her new family. Her mother wanted her to experience the hardships and feel how lucky she was compared to other Chinese immigrants. I mostly felt sorry since I couldn't see traces of kindness nor maternal love. Qn narrates in a sensitive way the abandonment and cruelty that she felt for years and I can only imagine Qn's struggle to write her experiences down. Being of Taiwanese descent, this book made me question the mother-daughter relationship considering the Chinese cultural aspect: is it mainly duty for the daughter to serve and obey? or for a mother to have the right to sacrifice the daughter? I personally think that the trust fact should be above all these concepts. Through this memoir it is also mentioned the tension between Chinese and Taiwanese descents, plus the painful yet common fact which parents leave China without their children. This commonplace separation is often very harmful and traumatic. Towards the end, Qn tries to understand why her mother is the way she is after learning more about her mother's story. This memoir captures the flaws of Children and Family services and we are also allowed a glimpse into the startup world, with its specific challenges regarding budget and uncertainties. This is a fierce memoir that gives us insightful views about specific topics and I recommend it! [ I received a complimentary copy from the publisher - Catapult - in exchange for an honest review ]

  4. 4 out of 5

    Gemma Peckham

    I went into this expecting a traumatic story, and it is certainly that, but Qu's restraint and subtlety when writing about the pain of her childhood is remarkable; the language is not often emotional, but every word is loaded with meaning. This is a beautifully written book. Briefly, it's the story of Qu's life: being left behind in China by her mother as a toddler, eventually being brought to America, and suffering awful mistreatment in the family that her mother has built with a new husband an I went into this expecting a traumatic story, and it is certainly that, but Qu's restraint and subtlety when writing about the pain of her childhood is remarkable; the language is not often emotional, but every word is loaded with meaning. This is a beautifully written book. Briefly, it's the story of Qu's life: being left behind in China by her mother as a toddler, eventually being brought to America, and suffering awful mistreatment in the family that her mother has built with a new husband and new children. Forced to work in the family sweatshop in Queens as a teen, Qu gets the Office of Children and Family Services involved, exploding the already fraught relationship that she has with her mother. Qu is incredibly generous with way she treats her mother in this story—who many will feel does not deserve it. Qu acknowledges the complexity of feeling neglected and abused by a woman who is a product of her own difficult history, showing empathy even in the face of such horrific treatment. It's a testament to how far she has come in working to understand and overcome her past. A fantastic memoir; I raced through it, completely engrossed. Definitely put it on your reading list!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Zibby Owens

    This is a memoir that centers around one single moment in the author's life. It's the "perceived betrayal" of calling child services on her family after they put her to work at their sweatshop in Queens, New York. The book opens in the factory, and we see how she got there. The book's second half centers around the author writing to child services for the records and what happens to her once she finds those records. I love the way the author writes. She does not waste words, and there are no unne This is a memoir that centers around one single moment in the author's life. It's the "perceived betrayal" of calling child services on her family after they put her to work at their sweatshop in Queens, New York. The book opens in the factory, and we see how she got there. The book's second half centers around the author writing to child services for the records and what happens to her once she finds those records. I love the way the author writes. She does not waste words, and there are no unnecessary flourishes. Yet, it's literary and beautiful. The book took me right in the middle of all her situations, whether running barefoot in her neighborhood in China before she moved or in college making the phone call for the records. All the moments are so clear. One quote grabbed me, "It is not my rage, but my mother's that hits me sometimes, an inheritance that the women in my family bear each day. We swallow parts of ourselves, instinctively neutralizing ourselves to fit the mold society has put us in. We are working women, women whose stories hold little value, women whose stories are not believed, women whose stories do not matter. All three generations of my family, starting with my grandmother and probably going back further than that, we're taught to be daughters, child bearers, caregivers, and laborers, women born to carry more than their weight. Untethered anger stirs in all of us and eventually becomes a tight ball of bitterness and resentment handed down generation after generation, a rage that hides the fear of being forgotten, of being less than, of being obsolete. I can tell the weight isn't solely mine the way I can tell when someone having a bad day suddenly snaps and transfers their mood to me. When it comes, it's a tidal wave, and the impact takes out everything in its path." To listen to my interview with the author, go to my podcast at: https://zibbyowens.com/transcript/ann...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sherri Puzey

    117 // “All three generations of my family, starting with my grandmother (and probably going back further than that), were taught to be daughters, child bearers, caregivers, and laborers. Women born to carry more than their weight. Untethered anger stirs in all of us, and eventually becomes a tight ball of bitterness and resentment, handed down generation after generation.” MADE IN CHINA is a debut memoir about the meaning of work, the generational trauma and abuse in families, and what it looks 117 // “All three generations of my family, starting with my grandmother (and probably going back further than that), were taught to be daughters, child bearers, caregivers, and laborers. Women born to carry more than their weight. Untethered anger stirs in all of us, and eventually becomes a tight ball of bitterness and resentment, handed down generation after generation.” MADE IN CHINA is a debut memoir about the meaning of work, the generational trauma and abuse in families, and what it looks like for immigrant families to pursue the American dream. as a teenager @annaqu was sent to work in her family’s garment factory in Queens. she was treated as a second-class citizen by her family, expected to dutifully serve them yet was not included in family functions. Anna eventually decided to call to OCFS about her mistreatment, and this phone call impacts the rest of her life and her family relationships. this story is both captivating and heartbreaking. exploring difficult family relationships and how we define abuse, this debut will have readers rooting for Anna the whole way through. if you love memoirs like I do, this is one to add to your list! thank you to @catapult for sending me a copy of this one!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Veronica

    The following book contains child labor, depictions of abuse, mentions of an adult exposing himself to a minor, explicit language Rating: 2.5 stars I always have a hard time reviewing non-fiction based on an individual’s experiences because it feels a bit like you’re judging someone’s life. Memoirs are even harder to review because they’re so deeply personal. What am I supposed to say? “I know you just poured your heart and soul into this book about your life, but allow me to rip your labor of lo The following book contains child labor, depictions of abuse, mentions of an adult exposing himself to a minor, explicit language Rating: 2.5 stars I always have a hard time reviewing non-fiction based on an individual’s experiences because it feels a bit like you’re judging someone’s life. Memoirs are even harder to review because they’re so deeply personal. What am I supposed to say? “I know you just poured your heart and soul into this book about your life, but allow me to rip your labor of love to pieces”? That being said, Made in China was an ambitious attempt; it just fell short for me. This is not an indictment against Anna Qu’s desire to recount her childhood. Life was not kind to her, and I can’t imagine how difficult this must have been for her to write this. Digging up old memories and reliving the trauma could not have been easy, but it almost feels like she went through this with a “grit and bear it” attitude, and it’s reflected in her writing. Made in China is all over the place. The whole memoir feels disjointed, and there’s a lack of cohesion. We’re given a disturbing picture of childhood with no clear sense of purpose. Having finished the book, I’m still not sure what Qu is trying to achieve with her autobiography. She’s trying to explore the dark side of the American dream, highlight societal and systemic failures, consider the East vs West, immigrant vs second generational culture clashes, write a feminist treatise on oppression, make some kind of point about inherited trauma, all while unpacking her own childhood trauma. It’s way too much for one book to handle, especially a 200 page one. The simple journey Qu undertook when processing her past need its own book. There are clearly complicated emotions are at play, but they’re glossed over because she’s tackling so many different things. There just isn’t enough space to explore the complexities of each of the issues she wants to address, and we end up with a jumbled mess of ideas. The overall execution is messy, and Made in China lacks a clear sense of direction. The story lacks any kind of flow, which makes the reading experience a little hard. Qu alternates between her childhood and the present when she’s working for a sinking startup, and I don’t understand the connection because there isn’t really anything to tie the two storylines together. The lack of transition between the present and the flashbacks makes the overall story especially awkward. There are also random asides about the history of China or factories that seem completely out-of-place. I don’t mind the information per se, but it almost feels like a bait-and-switch when you sign up to read a memoir and start reading a bunch of exposition. It’s like Qu uses these tangents to distance herself the painful memories which is totally fine if that’s the angle she wants to take with the book–no one is forcing her to bare her soul–but then it’s not clear what she’s trying to accomplish in writing a memoir. It’s especially confusing because it seems like she wants to engage with her childhood memories and grapple with the feelings they bring, but then she’ll turn around and talk about something completely unrelated. There are just so many other competing topics whatever story she’s trying to tell is jumbled in the process. I also have issues with the ending. It feels like a rushed attempted to create a sense of closure, but it feels disingenuous and isn’t a very satisfying conclusion. I don’t need a happily ever after, but it just feels like there’s no real resolution from the memoir. Like why am I reading this book? Why are you writing it? What am I supposed to take away from it? I’ve been sitting here making confused faces at my computer while typing out this review because I honestly don’t know. I don’t know how much will change between now and publication, but the ARC reads more like a rough draft than a cohesive, finished product. There’s a lot of potential, but Qu’s attempt to tackle a wide range of topics means that none of them get the time and attention they deserve. As a result, we end up with a lot of half-explored ideas about childhood trauma, culture clashes, and unreliable memory, and Made in China feels more like a tangled ball of knotted thread instead of a nicely woven tapestry. Thanks to Catapult for the early digital galley in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Maureen Grigsby

    A story of complicated family relationships, individual strength, and immigration.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Audrey H.

    In Made to Order, Qu takes the reader through her experiences growing up in China/NYC under the abusive hand of her mother, step-father and step-siblings. I'm hoping this was cathartic for her to write, as Qu's sense of abandonment, shame and confusion really rise from the pages. While I did find her story readable (albeit difficult to hear), it felt much more disjointed and random after the 2/3rds mark. For example, I didn't understand the point of any of the start-up comparisons, and thought t In Made to Order, Qu takes the reader through her experiences growing up in China/NYC under the abusive hand of her mother, step-father and step-siblings. I'm hoping this was cathartic for her to write, as Qu's sense of abandonment, shame and confusion really rise from the pages. While I did find her story readable (albeit difficult to hear), it felt much more disjointed and random after the 2/3rds mark. For example, I didn't understand the point of any of the start-up comparisons, and thought the ending was abrupt. I think there's still some stuff here about abuse, PTSD and generational trauma that need to be fleshed out and explored more. All this being said, rooting for you, Anna!! 3.5 stars, rounded down.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Julie Suzanne

    Drawn in by the shiny cover on the "new releases" display at the public library, and I'm so thankful! Qu's mother left her behind in China to make a life for herself in the land o' opportunity and worked at a sweatshop until she was able to afford to bring her daughter over 5 years later. This sounds like it would be a heartwarming narrative but instead evokes all kinds of unpleasant feelings and ideas. Despite having my heart squeezed painfully, I feel a bit more informed about some Chinese cult Drawn in by the shiny cover on the "new releases" display at the public library, and I'm so thankful! Qu's mother left her behind in China to make a life for herself in the land o' opportunity and worked at a sweatshop until she was able to afford to bring her daughter over 5 years later. This sounds like it would be a heartwarming narrative but instead evokes all kinds of unpleasant feelings and ideas. Despite having my heart squeezed painfully, I feel a bit more informed about some Chinese culture, issues of Chinese immigrants, a little about American sweatshops, a lot more about government agencies and how our government protects the wealthy and does little to protect those of us who need the most protection. You'll see the abuser win in more than one setting. As I felt after reading Tara Westover's Educated, I would like to see swift justice brought upon Qu's parents and siblings, and knowing that it will never come is the disadvantage of opening our eyes to these incredible lives.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Julie Kim

    I finished Made in China in a couple days, but it was hard to read in all its bare honesty and utter vulnerability. In her memoir, Qu walks you through her abuse-filled childhood as a young child of a widowed immigrant mother. After 5 years of waiting for her mother to get her bearings in America while she stays in China with her grandparents, she traverses several continents to arrive at her new home, only to realize that she's an unwanted vestigial nuisance to the family, serving only as a rem I finished Made in China in a couple days, but it was hard to read in all its bare honesty and utter vulnerability. In her memoir, Qu walks you through her abuse-filled childhood as a young child of a widowed immigrant mother. After 5 years of waiting for her mother to get her bearings in America while she stays in China with her grandparents, she traverses several continents to arrive at her new home, only to realize that she's an unwanted vestigial nuisance to the family, serving only as a reminder of her mother's difficult past. What you witness in the subsequent years is a pattern of unrelenting, hateful abuse as seen by her mother's incessant verbal mistreatment, physical violence, forced unpaid child labor, and most symbolically, an emotional and physical (though only temporary) ejection from the place Qu wanted to call home and family. The most tragic part, though, is when the author, even after all those years, still questions the very fact that she got abused. That breaks my heart. To think that a piece of paper from the OCFS based on a stranger's non-committal observance of her family led her to question and doubt all the experiences she lived, felt, and breathed is awful. Qu refrains from using words that portray the extreme depth and drama of her mother's abuse, and I found that interesting. The heaviest accusation she throws at her mother is "being mean." She narrates events matter-of-factly. In fact, the memoir is rather organized and "put-together" for a recollection of such horrid memories. At first, I couldn't tell if that was some emotional distancing deployed as a defense mechanism, which is obviously understandable. But as she details her adult years and her gradual processing of her past experiences, I sensed overwhelming compassion on Qu's part to truly, deeply understand her mother's point of view and how she too was affected by her personal and intergenerational trauma. Qu doesn't mention forgiveness or reconciliation, and the story doesn't necessarily tie together to a happy ending, but her memoir is an engrossing reflection of two people estranged by land, culture, and history. Worth the read. Thank you to the publisher for making this ARC available through Netgalley!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ellis Emerson

    Anna Qu explores a question central to everyone: how reliable is our memory and our interpretation of experiences? There are some wonderfully crafted scenes that bring Qu's experiences to life--describing her work in the sweatshop or her early life in China. Told mostly in a linear structure with some flashbacks. I do wonder if Qu shied away from the deeper pain of the events and to that end, I can't say I blame her. However, in the text it read like not quite enough weight was given to the pain Anna Qu explores a question central to everyone: how reliable is our memory and our interpretation of experiences? There are some wonderfully crafted scenes that bring Qu's experiences to life--describing her work in the sweatshop or her early life in China. Told mostly in a linear structure with some flashbacks. I do wonder if Qu shied away from the deeper pain of the events and to that end, I can't say I blame her. However, in the text it read like not quite enough weight was given to the pain. I think it's also particularly difficult when it's the ones meant to love and protect us that hurt us. You can see Qu grapple with the question of her mother. She clearly wants more from her but also realizes that there isn't more her mom can give. The idea she says as "We are all raised by children." That our parents have their own traumas from their lives. It was really profound! Even with some areas where Qu may have shied away, she really comes to some moments of really amazing clarity and profound meaning! I found myself reading on to see how she got out of her situation and what meaning she made of it. The protective services report was a shocking moment that was not what I expected. I won't give it away, but it changed the narrator and was a powerful lens by which we can understand family, culture and how our own experiences color how we see others.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Thank you to Goodreads for having this giveaway. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It makes you appreciate any love you received from your family because Anna received very little from the person who should have given her the most. I can't imagine enduring the loneliness she had at the hands of her own mother. I hope she lives a life filled with the love and happiness she never had growing up. Thank you to Goodreads for having this giveaway. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It makes you appreciate any love you received from your family because Anna received very little from the person who should have given her the most. I can't imagine enduring the loneliness she had at the hands of her own mother. I hope she lives a life filled with the love and happiness she never had growing up.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Susan Thuvanuti

    Anna has a very tough life. Raised in China for seven years, then sent to the US to live with her biological mother who doesn’t want her. This book shows how one girl overcame unimaginable obstacles.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Chris Tedrick

    Exceptionally well written. Honest. Vulnerable. Fearless. I can't wait to read more from this author. Exceptionally well written. Honest. Vulnerable. Fearless. I can't wait to read more from this author.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Vivian

    Made in China is the memoir of Anna Qu, a Chinese immigrant in New York, whose mother treated her with unimaginable petty cruelty, which was summarized pretty well in the synopsis so I won’t go into. Qu persevered, a combination of personal strong will and circumstantial luck, managed to get into university, graduate school, and hold down a startup job in NYC. It is quite a personal tale, a story with great potentials to go deep and profound; but it didn’t. Overall I feel Qu’s insights stayed ba Made in China is the memoir of Anna Qu, a Chinese immigrant in New York, whose mother treated her with unimaginable petty cruelty, which was summarized pretty well in the synopsis so I won’t go into. Qu persevered, a combination of personal strong will and circumstantial luck, managed to get into university, graduate school, and hold down a startup job in NYC. It is quite a personal tale, a story with great potentials to go deep and profound; but it didn’t. Overall I feel Qu’s insights stayed barely beneath the surface; some parts of the book especially rubbed me the wrong way and I had to get it off my chest: * Maybe the book wanted to get into the US vs. China hype, a lot of her descriptions uphold the typical western rhetorics and prejudices against China. Even the book title is eye-rollingly unoriginal. Qu made it seem her mother’s cruelty is not uncommon in “communist China”, where people lived in harsh conditions, and abuse and trauma passed down generations. People just didn’t know better. I totally get that and this is also one reason I use to explain away some of my childhood unhappiness. But let’s get the fact straight, Qu’s mother was exceptionally and unnecessarily cruel to her, a psychopath even. And her stepfather was just as culpable, they both seemed to have lacked basic human decency (to a child!). When her mother refused to co-sign Qu’s student loan, knowing this could get her kicked out of university, or later when the mother refused to give Qu her grandmother’s contact information, these instances were just purely malicious. This is not normal behavior no matter one’s country of origin and culture background. * In the last two chapters, Qu touched on how difficult her mother’s own life must have been, hinted the trauma and parental abuse the mother suffered, trying to see things from her mother’s perspective, etc. All of this seemed to suggest a rushed forgiveness. I get that, but unfortunately forgiveness is not a state you can rush to and say “I forgive you, and everything is fine now.” No matter how extenuating the parents’ circumstance might have been, it does not undone the damages they’ve inflicted on their children. When these abused children grow into adults, they need to process the deep-buried anger towards their caregivers, mourn over the loss of a childhood stuck in arrested development, extend self-compassion towards themselves, and maybe, eventual forgiveness towards the abusers. I don’t know - maybe publishing a book means you have to reach some kind of conclusion, epiphany or happy ending. But forgiveness takes time and work. Nobody should feel obligated and pressured into forgiving their abusive parents prematurely. Anna, you don’t have to forgive your mother, it’s okay if you can and you want to, but you don’t have to. * American dream was painted throughout the book in the age-old simplistic form - “American dream is great, anyone can achieve class mobility in America.” No, the American dream was and is complicated. A lot of personal sacrifices, family separations, loss of belonging and culture, discriminations, and loneliness transpire in this supposed dream-making process. Nobody can say with completely certainty at the end whether it was worth it or not. In a way both Qu and her mother were lucky, because they made it. Some people make it out of their stories unscathed, thriving. Some people don’t. It is unfair, but so is life. Just look at hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants in America. What about their American dream? So, I wish Qu’s memoir could have gone deeper. But I’m happy that she survived and lived to tell her remarkable story.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Shana

    *Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest review* This heartbreaking memoir is the exploration of Anna Qu's upbringing and re-engagement with those memories as an adult. When her father dies, Qu's mother heads to the US to work and leaves her daughter with her parents. Years later, Qu follows her mother to New York and into a new life that involves a stepfather and two half siblings. Her mother treats her like a servant, neglects her needs, is emotionally abusive, and makes her *Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest review* This heartbreaking memoir is the exploration of Anna Qu's upbringing and re-engagement with those memories as an adult. When her father dies, Qu's mother heads to the US to work and leaves her daughter with her parents. Years later, Qu follows her mother to New York and into a new life that involves a stepfather and two half siblings. Her mother treats her like a servant, neglects her needs, is emotionally abusive, and makes her work in the family sweatshop in Queens. It's a tough read simply for these descriptions of abuse. Qu eventually talks to her school counselor and agrees to have her call the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), and while this changes a few things, her relationship with her mother remains volatile. As an adult, Qu then seeks her OCFS files as she reflects on her childhood, and sees that it is riddled with errors. More importantly, she sees that her situation was declared as "Not Abuse," and that leads to another set of complicated questions. Though deeply personal, this book also speaks volumes to the effects of intergenerational trauma and how that can play out.

  18. 5 out of 5

    britt_brooke

    Not solely a memoir, but a reminder of the forgotten female immigrant laborers. Mother and daughter moved to the US from China. Teenaged Anna is viewed as denouncing the family with her acculturated Americanness. She’s mentally and physically abused, and forced into garment factory work (a sweatshop) in Queens, NY. One day, Anna contacts Child Protective Services - a brave move affecting the rest of her life.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jill Dobbe

    A startling memoir of abuse, sweatshops, and families. Anna Qu grows up in China without a father, living with her grandparents until her mother returns to bring her back to the U.S. Her mother remarried and has two more children, building a new life for herself. As Anna is brought into the family, she has hopes of a beautiful reunion and relationship with her mother. Instead, she is treated with contempt and hate by the entire family. A sad and demoralizing account of growing up with a hostile m A startling memoir of abuse, sweatshops, and families. Anna Qu grows up in China without a father, living with her grandparents until her mother returns to bring her back to the U.S. Her mother remarried and has two more children, building a new life for herself. As Anna is brought into the family, she has hopes of a beautiful reunion and relationship with her mother. Instead, she is treated with contempt and hate by the entire family. A sad and demoralizing account of growing up with a hostile mother who cares only for appearances and money, she hides her daughter, forces her to be the maid, and work in the sweatshop at a young age. With little to no help from her mother, she goes on to graduate college and graduate school to earn an MFA. The author tries to understand why her mother cannot love her in the way she wants until her grandmother comes to the U.S. Through stories of her mother's childhood, she begins to understand what happened to her mother and why she is the way she is. Made in China is a story that will grip readers' hearts from beginning to end. Thank you, Anna Qu, publisher, and NetGalley for the ARC.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Steve Haruch

    What Anna Qu has achieved with Made in China is understated and extraordinary. At its center Made in China is a deeply, often painfully personal story about family, upward mobility, and the thin line between a harsh upbringing and an abusive one. There are no easy answers here, and Qu is never content to simply vilify. Instead, she vividly renders a childhood spent in fear — treated largely like a servant in a household where her presence was a terrible reminder of a life her mother wanted to fo What Anna Qu has achieved with Made in China is understated and extraordinary. At its center Made in China is a deeply, often painfully personal story about family, upward mobility, and the thin line between a harsh upbringing and an abusive one. There are no easy answers here, and Qu is never content to simply vilify. Instead, she vividly renders a childhood spent in fear — treated largely like a servant in a household where her presence was a terrible reminder of a life her mother wanted to forget — until eventually she is put to work in a sweatshop owned by her family. Something has to give, and does. Additionally, it's a book that asks us to consider that, while immigrants may in fact get the job done, there is a cost to that productivity that can go unnoticed, even by other immigrants — and there are layers of class, education and other privilege to consider. I admire the detail, the patient and vulnerable way Qu trawls her memory; as she puts it, "It was terrible and surprising how things turned out."

  21. 4 out of 5

    Julie Tieu

    In MADE IN CHINA, Anna Qu reflects on her difficult upbringing, being raised by her grandparents in China while her mom immigrated to America. When she reunited with her mom in Queens, she soon realized that she didn't fit in with her mother's new family and she was treated differently from her half-siblings. In her memoir, she explores the abusive relationship with her mother, the generational trauma that stems from poverty, famine, family separation, systems that fail its constituents, unfulfi In MADE IN CHINA, Anna Qu reflects on her difficult upbringing, being raised by her grandparents in China while her mom immigrated to America. When she reunited with her mom in Queens, she soon realized that she didn't fit in with her mother's new family and she was treated differently from her half-siblings. In her memoir, she explores the abusive relationship with her mother, the generational trauma that stems from poverty, famine, family separation, systems that fail its constituents, unfulfilled good intentions, and immigration. There are painful moments, but the tone of the memoir is one that seeks to understand these complicated feelings. While it was heartbreaking to read, I was fully engrossed in this memoir. It offers a real look at the darker consequences and life experiences of immigrants in America in their quest for the American dream and upward mobility. Thank you NetGalley and Catapult for the ARC.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mainlinebooker

    This is a difficult book, but an important one. It forces us to look at how cultural identities and difficult pasts guide the shape and form of personalities. When reading these types of books I often wonder what character traits provide such strong backbones for young individuals to weather these violent storms. In this current book, I had a hard time with the title. Labor there was, but love?? The abhorrent behavior of the mother, abusive, sharp tongued, castigating, domineering ,temperamental This is a difficult book, but an important one. It forces us to look at how cultural identities and difficult pasts guide the shape and form of personalities. When reading these types of books I often wonder what character traits provide such strong backbones for young individuals to weather these violent storms. In this current book, I had a hard time with the title. Labor there was, but love?? The abhorrent behavior of the mother, abusive, sharp tongued, castigating, domineering ,temperamental and narcissistic is not a word to describe love in my book. Yet, in the credits she avows that she loves her mother. My bet is that she is so afraid that this seething honest review of her life will further estrange her mother from her life. Anna is left behind in China after her father dies and her mother goes to seek a better life in the USA while leaving her daughter to be cared for by a loving grandmother. However, it takes 5 years, at the age of 7 that she is reunited with her mother. In the meantime, her mother has married the boss of a sweatshop that she worked in and has 2 children by him. From the moment Anna steps foot on American soil, vitriol expels from her mother; she is treated like a maid and never incorporated into family life and vacations. Later her mother makes her work at the sweat factory while Anna tries to go to school but her mother makes her take long public transportation rides home instead of driving her home in her car. All of this is so detrimental to Ann's sense of self worth but she is also torn between filial piety, and cultural expectations of duty. This upsets me just writing about it. The story continues through major ups and downs, with a courageous act of reporting her parents to child services stuck in between, until she graduates and also discovers how the US justice system fails her as well. Read this book, feel tremendous empathy for Anna, but know it is a difficult pill to swallow. My heart still aches for her.

  23. 4 out of 5

    christine liu

    Anna Qu's debut book is a poignant and succinctly written memoir in which she reflects on growing up as a Chinese immigrant in America, as a neglected stepchild in a new family unit that made no room to include her, as a young girl navigating adolescence with no support while bound by her mother's oppressive parenting and expectations of free labor. After her father passes away, her mother goes to the US in search of a better life, leaving her with grandparents in Wenzhou for years. At age 7 she Anna Qu's debut book is a poignant and succinctly written memoir in which she reflects on growing up as a Chinese immigrant in America, as a neglected stepchild in a new family unit that made no room to include her, as a young girl navigating adolescence with no support while bound by her mother's oppressive parenting and expectations of free labor. After her father passes away, her mother goes to the US in search of a better life, leaving her with grandparents in Wenzhou for years. At age 7 she was finally reunited with her mother, who by now was more like a stranger, and with a stepfather and two young half-siblings whose carefree, indulged lives would always exist in stark contrast to her own reality of abandonment and abuse. Many parts of this book were hard to read — not just because the injustice and emotional neglect she endured for years is heartbreaking, but also because I could not logically comprehend how her mother could treat her child the way she did. In reading about her memories of being excluded from family events, being forced as a child to finish evening shifts at the family's garment factory and take the train home alone while her parents drove home and had dinner with their other children hours earlier, being yelled at and slapped for staying up too late to do her homework because it was the only "leisure" time available to her, I often found myself judging the parent who would do this to her own daughter. But rather than lay blame on the family that caused her so much misery, Qu's narrative is full of deep and breathtaking empathy. She writes eloquently about her attempts as an adult to make sense of the trauma her mother suffered growing up during the Cultural Revolution that made her the person she was, of her mother's struggles to survive as a poor working woman, and of the decision of her child services caseworker to declare there was no evidence of abuse and no need to remove her from her home. In writing about her experiences with incredible candor and vulnerability, Qu peels back the layers on many difficult and complex issues of abuse, immigration, and belonging. This was such a powerful and insightful read for me, and I cannot recommend it enough. Many thanks to the publisher, Catapult, for sending me this free ARC. Make sure to check this book out when it's released on August 3, 2021!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    At its heart, Anna Qu's memoir is about her relationship with her mother and the experience of being a Chinese immigrant in the United States. Anna's mother left China after the death of her first husband, leaving Anna behind with her grandparents until it was possible to bring Anna to the United States, where her mother had established a new, more fortunate life as well as a new family. In the five years her mother was gone, Anna missed her mother and hoped that they would be reunited and be ha At its heart, Anna Qu's memoir is about her relationship with her mother and the experience of being a Chinese immigrant in the United States. Anna's mother left China after the death of her first husband, leaving Anna behind with her grandparents until it was possible to bring Anna to the United States, where her mother had established a new, more fortunate life as well as a new family. In the five years her mother was gone, Anna missed her mother and hoped that they would be reunited and be happy together. However, when they are reunited, Anna doesn't get the relationship with her mother she craves, being pushed aside in favor of her mother's new husband and children. So much of the book focuses on Anna's relationship with her mother and the conflict between what Anna wants and what her mother gives, but it is also about trying to understand and accept the history and past of our parents and family that have shaped who they and we have become. It feels weird to say that I enjoyed this book since so much of it deals with what many would consider abuse, neglect, and trauma, so perhaps I will say that Anna's story was powerful and I am still thinking about it. Anna shows the reader what her childhood and young adulthood were like through her descriptions, evoking the frustration and dread of the relationship she has with her mother. Her contextualization of her mother's choices and actions towards the end seem to provide some measure of closure, though I get the sense that Anna is still frustrated and unfulfilled by the relationship she has with her mother. The story itself is powerful and upsetting, but also provides a look at one facet of the immigrant experience. My only criticism is that the organization of the story sometimes made it a little hard to follow the chronology of what was happening in Anna's life, but it is a minor issue that doesn't take away from the whole experience of the memoir. Thank you to NetGalley, Catapult, Centerpoint Press, and Soft Skull Press for the opportunity to read Made in China early in exchange for an honest review.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Hilary ☀️

    Thank you Catapult for an advance reading copy of this book; this is an honest review. Searing in its honesty, this memoir by Anna Qu (out on August 3) drew me in from the first chapter and didn't let me go. After immigrating to the United States to join her mother and new stepfather, Qu is forced to work in her parents' sweatshop under her mother's supervision, after which she comes home to labor as a maid to her privileged step-siblings. Every action is liable to trigger her mother's rage—fight Thank you Catapult for an advance reading copy of this book; this is an honest review. Searing in its honesty, this memoir by Anna Qu (out on August 3) drew me in from the first chapter and didn't let me go. After immigrating to the United States to join her mother and new stepfather, Qu is forced to work in her parents' sweatshop under her mother's supervision, after which she comes home to labor as a maid to her privileged step-siblings. Every action is liable to trigger her mother's rage—fighting her stepbrother for the remote, calling "Mommy" at the sweatshop, trying to finish her homework at night—and with that rage comes punishment, accusations of not fulfilling filial piety in accordance with her parents' "benevolence," and threats of being sent away (which were followed through). Many years later, as Qu sifts through the child services paperwork, she finds her case was ruled "no abuse." As readers, we watch and listen as Qu reflects on this gaslighting, momentarily thrown off and unsure of herself. We see this uncertainty even in the way she speaks about her mother's "unkindness" while recalling the childhood abuse. But this is not just a book about child neglect and child abuse. Qu's reflections demonstrate incredible empathy and discernment for the intergenerational trauma inherited from the women in her lineage. She writes: "Untethered anger stirs in all of us, and eventually becomes a tight ball of bitterness and resentment, handed down generation after generation." For children who inherit this trauma, understanding it is not a condonation of the violence in which it manifests; rather, it's an understanding that this is pain that no longer needs to be passed down to future generations. Full review: https://www.instagram.com/p/CRsVDlPLe2U/

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Made in China is a heart-wrenching tale of childhood neglect and abuse. Qu’s prose is incredibly evocative as she recounts her experience as a real-life Cinderella: as a child, she’s forced to act as maid for her golden-child step siblings, to work 50 hours a week in a sweatshop while in school, and to minimize herself and shoulder abandonment at every turn for the comfort of her new step family. The only thing that I didn’t love about this book was the section focused on startup life; it felt o Made in China is a heart-wrenching tale of childhood neglect and abuse. Qu’s prose is incredibly evocative as she recounts her experience as a real-life Cinderella: as a child, she’s forced to act as maid for her golden-child step siblings, to work 50 hours a week in a sweatshop while in school, and to minimize herself and shoulder abandonment at every turn for the comfort of her new step family. The only thing that I didn’t love about this book was the section focused on startup life; it felt out of place in a book otherwise so focused on family and the meaning of unconditional love.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mayar El Mahdy

    This book was very painful. It reminded me of that story of the woman who hit her daughter by a car to teach her a lesson. Parenting is monstrous. I guess the complicated relationship between the narrator and her mother was very jarring. They love each other but there's a lot of pain there. The generational trauma and the societal pressure were big factors, but understanding something and being okay with it are two different things. This was an insightful read, it really made me think and feel. I' This book was very painful. It reminded me of that story of the woman who hit her daughter by a car to teach her a lesson. Parenting is monstrous. I guess the complicated relationship between the narrator and her mother was very jarring. They love each other but there's a lot of pain there. The generational trauma and the societal pressure were big factors, but understanding something and being okay with it are two different things. This was an insightful read, it really made me think and feel. I'm glad I picked it up even though it hurt. Hope the author is living a peaceful life now.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rakan

    Impossible to put down, Qu expertly navigates many questions gripping American immigration today: what does it mean to be American, what is my 'American Dream,' and why, how does my new found sense of individualism relate to my family's culture etc... all wrapped into a heartfelt account of a broken mother-daughter relationship. I loved the story's texture and framing. We experience the hardships of modern day labor, from sweatshop to startup, woven into the intricacies of what it means to be Ch Impossible to put down, Qu expertly navigates many questions gripping American immigration today: what does it mean to be American, what is my 'American Dream,' and why, how does my new found sense of individualism relate to my family's culture etc... all wrapped into a heartfelt account of a broken mother-daughter relationship. I loved the story's texture and framing. We experience the hardships of modern day labor, from sweatshop to startup, woven into the intricacies of what it means to be Chinese and American living in Queens, NY. You will find some of it hard to believe. Qu deftly contextualizes trauma with history, and she balances pain with the reality of survival. Throughout the traumatic events, the strength of the human spirit endures, and does not leave the reader down trodden, but hopeful. I wont spoil it, but this spirit soars into the final act, culminating in a tearfully joyous experience. A must read!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kerry Beth

    I won an Advanced Reader Copy of this memoir in a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you! Anna Qu tells her own history, leaving a happy home in China with her grandparents, to join her mother in New York. When she arrives she discovers a stepfather and step siblings she didn’t know about, and a harder life and more difficult family relationships than she ever imagined. With growing up and reflection, she has learned some perspective and different views on her childhood and her own value and self worth. T I won an Advanced Reader Copy of this memoir in a Goodreads giveaway. Thank you! Anna Qu tells her own history, leaving a happy home in China with her grandparents, to join her mother in New York. When she arrives she discovers a stepfather and step siblings she didn’t know about, and a harder life and more difficult family relationships than she ever imagined. With growing up and reflection, she has learned some perspective and different views on her childhood and her own value and self worth. This reads almost like a novel, and is engaging and thought provoking. Well worth the read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rebekah

    This is another memoir that seems to have originated from a standalone essay, and I think this would have been better as a shorter but better curated essay collection. The first half of this memoir is very strong as Qu details her childhood enduring horrific parental abuse from her mother and stepfather, including being forced to work in her parents' sweatshop in Queens, New York. Qu eventually lets her school guidance counselor file a report with Child Protective Services and small improvements This is another memoir that seems to have originated from a standalone essay, and I think this would have been better as a shorter but better curated essay collection. The first half of this memoir is very strong as Qu details her childhood enduring horrific parental abuse from her mother and stepfather, including being forced to work in her parents' sweatshop in Queens, New York. Qu eventually lets her school guidance counselor file a report with Child Protective Services and small improvements are made in her life: she is no longer forced to work in the sweatshop and instead is allowed to work outside the home on her own accord and make and keep her own money. However, the abuse continues as Qu leaves for Binghamton University, as he mother announces that her bedroom will be converted as soon as she leaves for school, and gives Qu $200 as severance. Qu learns that she needs a parent's signature to receive financial aid and it requires the social worker from her CPS case to intervene and attest to why Qu's family will not help her receive financial aid. This first half is very strong, as it shows Qu's perseverance in the face of endless hardship, and how she managed to survive. I hope writing it all down was cathartic for her, and helpful to her healing. However, the book begins to wobble in the second half as it jumps ahead into Qu's adulthood working at a failing tech startup. Around this time she learns that her mother, abusive as ever, has withheld information about the death of Qu's grandfather until after the funeral in China, and Qu is devastated. She requests information on her CPS case from her childhood, only to discover the report riddled with inaccuracies and concludes with CPS finding no evidence of abuse. Qu says she plans to pursue correcting her report and getting justice, but this is never followed up on in the book. She also reunites with her grandmother, who has finally been brought to the United States, and the book ends on a hopeful note with Qu being with the one parental figure left who treats her with love, but it felt rushed and came after some light attempts to explain why Qu's mother was so abusive - underscoring the difficulties that Qu's mother faced as a twenty-year-old widow in China, and then as a working class immigrant woman in America. I found the attempt to justify - even in any small way - the child abuse that Qu spends half the book going into gritty detail about very uncomfortable. Overall, this book was a miss for me because of its uneven execution.

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