Monday, January 12, 2009

The Milpitas Treasure Chest

"Now said a good book unto me.
Open my pages and you shall see
Jewels of wisdom and treasures fine
Gold and Silver in every line
And you may claim them if but you will
Open my pages and take your fill”
(Excerpt, Michigan’s Poet Laureate, Edgar Guest)

An indispensible friend to every cook in need of a recipe, author Lynn Walker, asked to hear about the Opening of the Milpitas Library this past Saturday.
The Milpitas Library , a 10-year-dream in the making, is twice the size of the old library where it was often so crowded you couldn't find a seat, where the checkout line was longer than that at Costco.
What I found most wonderful about the new library, though, was that it incorporates a special building: the first Milpitas Grammar School. The Grammar School was used to educate from 1916-56, then it became City Hall, then a community center, then a senior center, and now it is the auditorium and reading room for the library.
I found it so heartening that the people of Milpitas adapted the old school to meet the needs of the community.
So, while I’d been asked to talk about my current writing project, I was inspired by Milpitas’ dream to talk about my first dream, My Half of the Sky. My dream took longer--12 years which often felt like FOREVER--and was about a village, unlike Milpitas, which couldn’t adapt to the changing aspects of the world around it.
The afternoon was fabulous and memorable--with music, dancing, speeches and tours. It was an honor to be there with Terri Thayer, author of four murder mysteries, to help open this lovely treasure chest. If you get a chance, stop by and admire their jewels.


Lynn said...

Thanks for sharing the details about the Milpitas library opening, Jana. It sounds like a lovely building, with lots of meaningful history. Must have been a fun day.

What a beautiful quote from Edgar Guest, too, by the way :)

Jana McBurney-Lin said...

Thanks for asking about it, Lynn. It was amazing to see how many people came out to celebrate their new library. The police had to direct traffic; the check-out line was a half-hour long; the halls were filled with patrons young and old. It was a grand occassion.
I love that poem by Edgar Guest (that was just an excerpt.)

Terri Thayer said...

It was fun, wasn't it? As that is my home branch, I was excited to see my librarians so happy. And I will be thrilled to use the new space. I'm going over to write probably on Wednesday.

Your talk was fab. Inspiring and well thought out. I really enjoyed it and having lunch!

Lynn said...

I've been meaning to tell you, I read a Terri Thayer mystery on your recommendation. Then I read another. They were super. It's so much fun to discover local authors. Thanks for sharing your finds with the rest of us.

What People Are Saying About My Half of the Sky

My Half of the Sky was the BookSense Pick for August 2006 as well as a Forbes Book Club Pick.

"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
March 2010

"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.”
Isabella Sluzek
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