Monday, June 25, 2012

Graduation or Cocktail Party?

After a seminar on how, in order to be an affective blogger, one had to write something two to three times a day, I threw in the towel.  I didn’t have two or three things to blog about each day…besides I had a novel to finish.  I had been working on the sequel to My Half of the Sky when a Korean gentleman approached me, saying, “Your novel reminds me of old Korea.  Will you help me tell my story?”  
He grew up in Seoul, Korea during WWII, and in the space of three years watched his happy homeland turn into a prison and punishment center for his family.  Well, I couldn’t resist his heartwarming story.  Last week, I put the final touches on it—at least for now.  (It’s with my trusty critique group and a select group of editors.)
So I could have started blogging last week.  But I was at my eldest daughter’s graduation from UC, Santa Barbara.  It was a wonderful moment in our family history.  The speeches were thoughtful (although at moments, I expected the Dean to pass around a donation hat.)  And it was a particular thrill to have all the students stand and be told, “You have graduated.”  Tears came to my eyes.  
Then the students sat, and we were put through the torture of listening to various staff members read (poorly, I might add) 1200 names.  Some of the friends and relatives did not bother to stick around to listen, but after having heard their friend's/child's name got up.  If these people had just left, that would have been okay—rude, but okay rude.  No, these people acted like they were walking through a dinner party.  “Oh, Jess.  How are you?  I haven’t seen you in ages.”  High five, shoulder bump.  
Did I miss my daughter’s name?  
It was ridiculous….a definite breakdown of a touching day.
Graduate daughter is now going to Hangzhou, China for two months to work in a hospital—to get the feel for how things are done there, to hone her language skills.  So, of course, we all need to give her the send off.  We’ll be traveling first to Japan (where she was born) and then to Hangzhou.  I will do my best to find at least one thing of interest to report on each day...or two.

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