Saturday, February 12, 2011

China Dolls

I just finished the final pages of China Dolls by Michelle Yu and Blossom Kan.

This story is about 3 Chinese-American, career-driven women--best friends since forever--in their late 20's. The book is written in "acts"--each one chronicling the character's story from her P.O.V.

  • ACT I - M.J., who is trying to make it as sports caster in a white male's world where women know nothing of the sorts. The "Black Sheep"

  • ACT II - Alex, the Chinese success her career, not when it comes to romance. The careful and responsible planner.

  • ACT III - Lin, the risk-taker and who has all the men fawning over her

Even though we get the scoop on each chick's love life in segments, it all intertwines with each other because these girls constantly get together for brunch and stuff; and through it all, they advise, console, and have fun together.

I loved the Asian theme background in the story, especially when it seeps through the American modern lifestyle of today (same as any other culture, really.) The prologue is what started it all when the three girls go see a fortune teller to see how the year would turn out. Each one had a different fortune. It was interesting to see how it all played out for each one.

For M.J., the traditional Chinese custom was: to major in business, get a job in the corporate world, and make lots of money; but M.J. was too artistic for all that, so she ditched her family plan for a shot as a sportscaster--you can feel her frustrations as she tries desperately to achieve her goals.

Alex is the "perfect Chinese daughter"--she got the good grades, got her degree, got a career as a top-notch lawyer, and is making lots of money so she doesn't need a man to support her; but lately, she's wishing that could change. She would like to have a family someday, but she refuses to succumb to the traditional role of the housewife. She's not afraid to speak her mind. If something is sexist, she says so.

Lin has always been the pawn in a match-making scheme by her overbearing mother, who wants her daughter to settle down with a nice and successful Chinese man. Then the white man enters her life, and her mother couldn't have been more shocked. Lin was so stupid to ditch everything for this guy that didn't even treat her right. Why do women do that?

Overall, all three girls seemed to be looking for love in all the wrong places when it was right there in front of them the whole time. They all seemed to have one thing in common: their worst nightmare is to be trapped in a traditional "Chinese" marriage, where the husband controls all the money and the wife is meant to cook, clean, and take care of the kids. Also, they all seem to think that what is working against them in their careers is the fact that they are Asian females, and they all constantly bitch about it!

This book was funny and relatable at times. I felt that I could empathize with all three--M.J. being the tomboy and never fitting in; Alex not wanting to waste her time with losers and would rather live alone; and Lin wanting to get out and explore the world (I so want that.)

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