Monday, February 23, 2009
The Best Way to Ski
It started a couple seasons back, the worrying. What will I do if I break a leg? Or worse, an arm? How would I write? I thought all this paranoia was too much caffeine in my diet. But the next year when I was down to drinking hot water instead, I was still hemming and hawing.
I realized I enjoyed the chairlift ride more than the actual skiing. That instead of reveling in the “jump-age” (kids’ word) and excitement, I prayed I’d just make it down in one piece. I realized that the kids I’d taught to ski were leaving me in the powder spray (and had moved on to snowboarding the black diamonds.) Oh, sure, we always met up to do one run together, but even then I could tell they were really humoring the “old lady” (kids’ word).
So this time, while I brought my skis just in case I had a sudden craving to return to the good old days and race down the hill crying, “ye-ha,” I also brought lots of books.
Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos is a book I avoided because of the title--it sounded like a Harlequin Romance. But when a friend of mine said it was great, I plunged ahead. While the book has an abundance of beautiful people, the ending is happy and somewhat predictable, and it is a romance, the voices of her characters are strong and witty, the dialogue is amazing, and the story is fun. I enjoyed reading it so much I picked up her second book, Belong to Me (another yucky title).
Home Was The Land Of Morning Calm by Connie Kang tells of Korea’s history during the 1900’s through the voice of a woman and her family. It’s fascinating the twists of fate dealt this small-but strategic and highly-coveted--island country, and hearing these facts through the real history of family makes it even more interesting.
So I had a wonderful going-to-the-snow holiday, and I did venture out into the snow, on long walks with the dog, on hikes to the local store, and while shoveling out our car which I’d run into a snow bank (long story). But this snow --except for the snow bank incident--felt safe and friendly. I didn’t hem and haw once. I came away thinking it was the perfect “ski” holiday and why hadn’t I done this earlier? But then the best editor I’ve ever known once said to me, “Just because a character realizes something, doesn’t mean he or she will immediately act upon that realization.“ A thing to remember in fiction as well as life.
**I’m doing an author chat this week on Library Thing. It’s an interesting site with lots of events going on, so stop on by.
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