Friday, August 15, 2008
Lost At Orientation
"What's the matter?" I asked her.
"I don't want jiejie to go away," she said.
"Go away?" It was a Sunday. My eldest daughter hadn't mentioned she was going anywhere that day. "Where's she going?"
"To college," she said.
Oh. Yeah. That thing.
Recently, I took my daughter to That Thing. It wasn't the pull-up-to-the-curb-and-drop-off- type of trip I remember from "my day." I--along with a multitude of other parents--was asked to stay at the college for two days and undergo orientation along with our children. I stayed in the dorm and ate at the commons and got lost looking for the right buildings. Just like in the old days.
The first day the Administration told us how wonderful our students were, what a fine school it was, how grand the experience would be. I was feeling great, patting myself on the back at our good fortune.
The next day, however, the Administration took us down reality lane--about DRINKING (49% of students binge drink, but that's not too bad compared with Harvard which has 44%) , DRUGS (a "small percentage" of students do hard drugs: 10%), RAPE (1 in 4 women in universities should expect to be assaulted in some fashion). And by the way, if you're feeling sad, apprehensive, having trouble letting go, that's normal.
I felt miserable. What was I doing thrusting my dear little one out into this crazy world?
Fortunately, my husband showed up. The voice of reason. He said not to worry. Everything would be alright. He had brought our daughter's belongings--two suitcases full of clothes, bedding, hangers, etc.
We thought we'd perform a last parenting-type duty and set up her room while she went off to register for classes. He made the bed. I unpacked her suitcases --the whole time thinking why does she need two full suitcases worth of clothes for six weeks of summer school? I ended up only unpacking one suitcase and just sliding the other under the bed...in case. I noticed she'd left her cell phone on her desk where I put photos of her friends and family. The room looked cozy and fun. She'd be thrilled....
If we could find her.
She wasn't at the class registration area. She wasn't at the dining hall. She wasn't soaking up sunshine on the grass. Where was she? The statistics regarding assualt ran through my head.
"Well, she's got to have gone back to her room," my husband reasoned.
"No, if she were there, she would have called us," I pointed out.
We wandered around and around til my feet felt disembodied from my legs and the Administration was ready for us to leave. This was horrible. Where could she be?
"Surely, she's fine," my husband said.
We slogged our way back to her room, ready to give her room key to her roommate. My eyes stung. Would I not even get to say, "Goodbye?" I knocked on her door. The roommate answered. But, lo and behold, surrounded by a mountain of clothes on her bed was our daughter.
Why hadn't she called? She was busy.
Busy remaking the bed (My husband had used the boring sheets.)
Busy unpacking the suitcases (of course she needed all those clothes).
Busy reorganizing the stuff I'd unpacked (I had done it wrong.)
I had to laugh. With that kind of focus and determination, she'd be just fine. And if she was fine, I would be too. (sniff...sniff.)
What People Are Saying About My Half of the Sky
"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, co-President of the Minnesota Chapter of US-China Friendship Association
"The novel ...includes many of the tales and the folk ways of the people living in the rural areas of South China, still followed provincially. The story takes place in current China, but could relate the dilemma of any young woman in rural China through the ages."
Kitty Trescott, National Board of the Midwest Region of US-China Friendship Association. March 2010
"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, 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, 2008
“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. Jana’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, 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.”
Friends of the Museum Book Review 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
Head Writer TV Series "Murder, She Wrote,"
Author - The Sixteenth Man
A complex and mesmerizingly original tale of a young Chinese woman caught between the modern world and the pull of her ancient culture. McBurney-Lin’s 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
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
My Half of the Sky is a wonderfully-crafted story that was obviously written with a piece of McBurney-Lin's heart. A masterpiece."
Lee Lofland, Author - Howdunit: Police Procedure and Investigation
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
Through vivid descriptions of sights and smells, Jana McBurney-Lin's My Half of the Sky is a haunting, emotional journey of what it means to be an honorable female in modern China. Jill Ferguson, Author - Sometimes Art Can't Save You