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Made in China: A Memoir of Love and Labor

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A young girl forced to work in a Queens sweatshop calls child services on her mother in this powerful debut memoir about labor and self-worth that traces a Chinese immigrant's journey to an American future. As a teen, Anna Qu is sent by her mother to work in her family's garment factory in Queens. At home, she is treated as a maid and suffers punishment for doing her ho A young girl forced to work in a Queens sweatshop calls child services on her mother in this powerful debut memoir about labor and self-worth that traces a Chinese immigrant's journey to an American future. As a teen, Anna Qu is sent by her mother to work in her family's garment factory in Queens. At home, she is treated as a maid and suffers punishment for doing her homework at night. Her mother wants to teach her a lesson: she is Chinese, not American, and such is their tough path in their new country. But instead of acquiescing, Qu alerts the Office of Children and Family Services, an act with consequences that impact the rest of her life. Nearly twenty years later, estranged from her mother and working at a Manhattan start-up, Qu requests her OCFS report. When it arrives, key details are wrong. Faced with this false narrative, and on the brink of losing her job as the once-shiny start-up collapses, Qu looks once more at her life's truths, from abandonment to an abusive family to seeking dignity and meaning in work. Traveling from Wenzhou to Xi'an to New York, Made in China is a fierce memoir unafraid to ask thorny questions about trauma and survival in immigrant families, the meaning of work, and the costs of immigration.


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A young girl forced to work in a Queens sweatshop calls child services on her mother in this powerful debut memoir about labor and self-worth that traces a Chinese immigrant's journey to an American future. As a teen, Anna Qu is sent by her mother to work in her family's garment factory in Queens. At home, she is treated as a maid and suffers punishment for doing her ho A young girl forced to work in a Queens sweatshop calls child services on her mother in this powerful debut memoir about labor and self-worth that traces a Chinese immigrant's journey to an American future. As a teen, Anna Qu is sent by her mother to work in her family's garment factory in Queens. At home, she is treated as a maid and suffers punishment for doing her homework at night. Her mother wants to teach her a lesson: she is Chinese, not American, and such is their tough path in their new country. But instead of acquiescing, Qu alerts the Office of Children and Family Services, an act with consequences that impact the rest of her life. Nearly twenty years later, estranged from her mother and working at a Manhattan start-up, Qu requests her OCFS report. When it arrives, key details are wrong. Faced with this false narrative, and on the brink of losing her job as the once-shiny start-up collapses, Qu looks once more at her life's truths, from abandonment to an abusive family to seeking dignity and meaning in work. Traveling from Wenzhou to Xi'an to New York, Made in China is a fierce memoir unafraid to ask thorny questions about trauma and survival in immigrant families, the meaning of work, and the costs of immigration.

30 review for Made in China: A Memoir of Love and Labor

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jesse bowtiesandbooks

    This book is written on the walls of my heart.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    I was a ghost haunting a family that wanted nothing to do with me, and the loneliness left a tightness in my chest.~from Made in China by Anna Qu One thing I have learned in my reading is that trauma is passed through generations. Grandparents and parents do not share what haunts them, the terrors they saw or the hardships they endured. But it changes who they are, their behavior, and how they raise the next generation. Anna Qu's mother insisted that the world was a hard, unfair place and not to e I was a ghost haunting a family that wanted nothing to do with me, and the loneliness left a tightness in my chest.~from Made in China by Anna Qu One thing I have learned in my reading is that trauma is passed through generations. Grandparents and parents do not share what haunts them, the terrors they saw or the hardships they endured. But it changes who they are, their behavior, and how they raise the next generation. Anna Qu's mother insisted that the world was a hard, unfair place and not to expect anything from life. Qu was expected to earn every bite of food, the roof over her head and a bed in the basement. In her early teens, she worked in the family sweat shop fifty hours a week and then acted as the family maid at home. When Qu's father died, her mother knew she could not remarry in a China with a one child law; she already had one child and no man would want her. So, she immigrated to America and found work in a sweat shop, leaving her daughter with her parents in China. Beautiful and hard working, she caught the eye of the factory owner; they married and had two children before Qu was summoned to join them in America. Qu had been told that life in America would be easy, with lots of food and toys and love. But the fatherless girl was treated like a burden, a dependent on her benevolent step-father, an outsider who had to earn her keep. The family indulged in conspicuous consumption, her mother wearing high end fashions while her step siblings were lavished with gifts, while Qu did not have enough to eat, no private property, and was treated like the lowest servant. Qu's memoir is filled with disturbing scenes. Her parents left the factory for home before Qu's shift ended. By car, they were home in thirty minutes. Later in the evening, Qu took mass transit, an hour long journey. She describes her vulnerability, how a man exposed himself to her and how she had to elude his following her. She came home to a dark house and a cold plate of food. Qu had idealized her grandmother who had raised her in China after her mother left. Later, she tells Qu that she had been a hard mother as well, just one of generations of women who had to fight to survive. From her grandmother, Qu learns of the bitterness of women's lives, how they must be ruthless to survive, and to teach the next generation to survive. When Qu sought help through Child Services, they gave her short term counseling but did not report that she was abused. The beatings, the neglect, the violence, the lack of love, the lack of concern, the work in the sweatshop were not enough. But her mother was told to allow Qu to keep the money she earned. Qu studied hard. Books were her passion. She got herself into college and graduate school without financial or emotional support from her mother. Qu, like her mother, beat the odds and became successful, each in her own way. She still struggles with her past. It is certain her mother did, too. Overcoming hardship, the immigrant experience, the place of women in society and the family, what it takes to survive--it is all in this affecting and honest memoir. I received a free egalley from the publisher through NetGalley. My review is fair and unbiased.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Veronica

    The following book contains child labor, depictions of abuse, mentions of an adult exposing himself to a minor, explicit language Rating: 2.5 stars I always have a hard time reviewing non-fiction based on an individual’s experiences because it feels a bit like you’re judging someone’s life. Memoirs are even harder to review because they’re so deeply personal. What am I supposed to say? “I know you just poured your heart and soul into this book about your life, but allow me to rip your labor of lo The following book contains child labor, depictions of abuse, mentions of an adult exposing himself to a minor, explicit language Rating: 2.5 stars I always have a hard time reviewing non-fiction based on an individual’s experiences because it feels a bit like you’re judging someone’s life. Memoirs are even harder to review because they’re so deeply personal. What am I supposed to say? “I know you just poured your heart and soul into this book about your life, but allow me to rip your labor of love to pieces”? That being said, Made in China was an ambitious attempt; it just fell short for me. This is not an indictment against Anna Qu’s desire to recount her childhood. Life was not kind to her, and I can’t imagine how difficult this must have been for her to write this. Digging up old memories and reliving the trauma could not have been easy, but it almost feels like she went through this with a “grit and bear it” attitude, and it’s reflected in her writing. Made in China is all over the place. The whole memoir feels disjointed, and there’s a lack of cohesion. We’re given a disturbing picture of childhood with no clear sense of purpose. Having finished the book, I’m still not sure what Qu is trying to achieve with her autobiography. She’s trying to explore the dark side of the American dream, highlight societal and systemic failures, consider the East vs West, immigrant vs second generational culture clashes, write a feminist treatise on oppression, make some kind of point about inherited trauma, all while unpacking her own childhood trauma. It’s way too much for one book to handle, especially a 200 page one. The simple journey Qu undertook when processing her past need its own book. There are clearly complicated emotions are at play, but they’re glossed over because she’s tackling so many different things. There just isn’t enough space to explore the complexities of each of the issues she wants to address, and we end up with a jumbled mess of ideas. The overall execution is messy, and Made in China lacks a clear sense of direction. The story lacks any kind of flow, which makes the reading experience a little hard. Qu alternates between her childhood and the present when she’s working for a sinking startup, and I don’t understand the connection because there isn’t really anything to tie the two storylines together. The lack of transition between the present and the flashbacks makes the overall story especially awkward. There are also random asides about the history of China or factories that seem completely out-of-place. I don’t mind the information per se, but it almost feels like a bait-and-switch when you sign up to read a memoir and start reading a bunch of exposition. It’s like Qu uses these tangents to distance herself the painful memories which is totally fine if that’s the angle she wants to take with the book–no one is forcing her to bare her soul–but then it’s not clear what she’s trying to accomplish in writing a memoir. It’s especially confusing because it seems like she wants to engage with her childhood memories and grapple with the feelings they bring, but then she’ll turn around and talk about something completely unrelated. There are just so many other competing topics whatever story she’s trying to tell is jumbled in the process. I also have issues with the ending. It feels like a rushed attempted to create a sense of closure, but it feels disingenuous and isn’t a very satisfying conclusion. I don’t need a happily ever after, but it just feels like there’s no real resolution from the memoir. Like why am I reading this book? Why are you writing it? What am I supposed to take away from it? I’ve been sitting here making confused faces at my computer while typing out this review because I honestly don’t know. I don’t know how much will change between now and publication, but the ARC reads more like a rough draft than a cohesive, finished product. There’s a lot of potential, but Qu’s attempt to tackle a wide range of topics means that none of them get the time and attention they deserve. As a result, we end up with a lot of half-explored ideas about childhood trauma, culture clashes, and unreliable memory, and Made in China feels more like a tangled ball of knotted thread instead of a nicely woven tapestry. Thanks to Catapult for the early digital galley in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Elena L.

    [3.5/5 stars] "She was my mother and I was her daughter." MADE IN CHINA is a memoir about Anna Qu, a Chinese immigrant's woman. It starts with her mother leaving China to follow her American dream. Qu then lives with her grandparents for five years before being reunited with her mother in America. This memoir read like a Chinese drama based on how absurd was Qu's reality. In Queens, her mother favored her half-siblings at home, she is treated as a maid and she had to work long hours at the garmen [3.5/5 stars] "She was my mother and I was her daughter." MADE IN CHINA is a memoir about Anna Qu, a Chinese immigrant's woman. It starts with her mother leaving China to follow her American dream. Qu then lives with her grandparents for five years before being reunited with her mother in America. This memoir read like a Chinese drama based on how absurd was Qu's reality. In Queens, her mother favored her half-siblings at home, she is treated as a maid and she had to work long hours at the garment factory. In addition to the cultural shock - changing from freedom to order - Qn felt the isolation, loneliness and became resentful towards her new family. Her mother wanted her to experience the hardships and feel how lucky she was compared to other Chinese immigrants. I mostly felt sorry since I couldn't see traces of kindness nor maternal love. Qn narrates in a sensitive way the abandonment and cruelty that she felt for years and I can only imagine Qn's struggle to write her experiences down. Being of Taiwanese descent, this book made me question the mother-daughter relationship considering the Chinese cultural aspect: is it mainly duty for the daughter to serve and obey? or for a mother to have the right to sacrifice the daughter? I personally think that the trust fact should be above all these concepts. Through this memoir it is also mentioned the tension between Chinese and Taiwanese descents, plus the painful yet common fact which parents leave China without their children. This commonplace separation is often very harmful and traumatic. Towards the end, Qn tries to understand why her mother is the way she is after learning more about her mother's story. This memoir captures the flaws of Children and Family services and we are also allowed a glimpse into the startup world, with its specific challenges regarding budget and uncertainties. This is a fierce memoir that gives us insightful views about specific topics and I recommend it! [ I received a complimentary copy from the publisher - Catapult - in exchange for an honest review ]

  5. 5 out of 5

    Gemma Peckham

    I went into this expecting a traumatic story, and it is certainly that, but Qu's restraint and subtlety when writing about the pain of her childhood is remarkable; the language is not often emotional, but every word is loaded with meaning. This is a beautifully written book. Briefly, it's the story of Qu's life: being left behind in China by her mother as a toddler, eventually being brought to America, and suffering awful mistreatment in the family that her mother has built with a new husband an I went into this expecting a traumatic story, and it is certainly that, but Qu's restraint and subtlety when writing about the pain of her childhood is remarkable; the language is not often emotional, but every word is loaded with meaning. This is a beautifully written book. Briefly, it's the story of Qu's life: being left behind in China by her mother as a toddler, eventually being brought to America, and suffering awful mistreatment in the family that her mother has built with a new husband and new children. Forced to work in the family sweatshop in Queens as a teen, Qu gets the Office of Children and Family Services involved, exploding the already fraught relationship that she has with her mother. Qu is incredibly generous with way she treats her mother in this story—who many will feel does not deserve it. Qu acknowledges the complexity of feeling neglected and abused by a woman who is a product of her own difficult history, showing empathy even in the face of such horrific treatment. It's a testament to how far she has come in working to understand and overcome her past. A fantastic memoir; I raced through it, completely engrossed. Definitely put it on your reading list!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Zibby Owens

    This is a memoir that centers around one single moment in the author's life. It's the "perceived betrayal" of calling child services on her family after they put her to work at their sweatshop in Queens, New York. The book opens in the factory, and we see how she got there. The book's second half centers around the author writing to child services for the records and what happens to her once she finds those records. I love the way the author writes. She does not waste words, and there are no unne This is a memoir that centers around one single moment in the author's life. It's the "perceived betrayal" of calling child services on her family after they put her to work at their sweatshop in Queens, New York. The book opens in the factory, and we see how she got there. The book's second half centers around the author writing to child services for the records and what happens to her once she finds those records. I love the way the author writes. She does not waste words, and there are no unnecessary flourishes. Yet, it's literary and beautiful. The book took me right in the middle of all her situations, whether running barefoot in her neighborhood in China before she moved or in college making the phone call for the records. All the moments are so clear. One quote grabbed me, "It is not my rage, but my mother's that hits me sometimes, an inheritance that the women in my family bear each day. We swallow parts of ourselves, instinctively neutralizing ourselves to fit the mold society has put us in. We are working women, women whose stories hold little value, women whose stories are not believed, women whose stories do not matter. All three generations of my family, starting with my grandmother and probably going back further than that, we're taught to be daughters, child bearers, caregivers, and laborers, women born to carry more than their weight. Untethered anger stirs in all of us and eventually becomes a tight ball of bitterness and resentment handed down generation after generation, a rage that hides the fear of being forgotten, of being less than, of being obsolete. I can tell the weight isn't solely mine the way I can tell when someone having a bad day suddenly snaps and transfers their mood to me. When it comes, it's a tidal wave, and the impact takes out everything in its path." To listen to my interview with the author, go to my podcast at: https://zibbyowens.com/transcript/ann...

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sherri Puzey

    117 // “All three generations of my family, starting with my grandmother (and probably going back further than that), were taught to be daughters, child bearers, caregivers, and laborers. Women born to carry more than their weight. Untethered anger stirs in all of us, and eventually becomes a tight ball of bitterness and resentment, handed down generation after generation.” MADE IN CHINA is a debut memoir about the meaning of work, the generational trauma and abuse in families, and what it looks 117 // “All three generations of my family, starting with my grandmother (and probably going back further than that), were taught to be daughters, child bearers, caregivers, and laborers. Women born to carry more than their weight. Untethered anger stirs in all of us, and eventually becomes a tight ball of bitterness and resentment, handed down generation after generation.” MADE IN CHINA is a debut memoir about the meaning of work, the generational trauma and abuse in families, and what it looks like for immigrant families to pursue the American dream. as a teenager @annaqu was sent to work in her family’s garment factory in Queens. she was treated as a second-class citizen by her family, expected to dutifully serve them yet was not included in family functions. Anna eventually decided to call to OCFS about her mistreatment, and this phone call impacts the rest of her life and her family relationships. this story is both captivating and heartbreaking. exploring difficult family relationships and how we define abuse, this debut will have readers rooting for Anna the whole way through. if you love memoirs like I do, this is one to add to your list! thank you to @catapult for sending me a copy of this one!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rebekah

    This is another memoir that seems to have originated from a standalone essay, and I think this would have been better as a shorter but better curated essay collection. The first half of this memoir is very strong as Qu details her childhood enduring horrific parental abuse from her mother and stepfather, including being forced to work in her parents' sweatshop in Queens, New York. Qu eventually lets her school guidance counselor file a report with Child Protective Services and small improvements This is another memoir that seems to have originated from a standalone essay, and I think this would have been better as a shorter but better curated essay collection. The first half of this memoir is very strong as Qu details her childhood enduring horrific parental abuse from her mother and stepfather, including being forced to work in her parents' sweatshop in Queens, New York. Qu eventually lets her school guidance counselor file a report with Child Protective Services and small improvements are made in her life: she is no longer forced to work in the sweatshop and instead is allowed to work outside the home on her own accord and make and keep her own money. However, the abuse continues as Qu leaves for Binghamton University, as he mother announces that her bedroom will be converted as soon as she leaves for school, and gives Qu $200 as severance. Qu learns that she needs a parent's signature to receive financial aid and it requires the social worker from her CPS case to intervene and attest to why Qu's family will not help her receive financial aid. This first half is very strong, as it shows Qu's perseverance in the face of endless hardship, and how she managed to survive. I hope writing it all down was cathartic for her, and helpful to her healing. However, the book begins to wobble in the second half as it jumps ahead into Qu's adulthood working at a failing tech startup. Around this time she learns that her mother, abusive as ever, has withheld information about the death of Qu's grandfather until after the funeral in China, and Qu is devastated. She requests information on her CPS case from her childhood, only to discover the report riddled with inaccuracies and concludes with CPS finding no evidence of abuse. Qu says she plans to pursue correcting her report and getting justice, but this is never followed up on in the book. She also reunites with her grandmother, who has finally been brought to the United States, and the book ends on a hopeful note with Qu being with the one parental figure left who treats her with love, but it felt rushed and came after some light attempts to explain why Qu's mother was so abusive - underscoring the difficulties that Qu's mother faced as a twenty-year-old widow in China, and then as a working class immigrant woman in America. I found the attempt to justify - even in any small way - the child abuse that Qu spends half the book going into gritty detail about very uncomfortable. Overall, this book was a miss for me because of its uneven execution.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Audrey H

    In Made to Order, Qu takes the reader through her experiences growing up in China/NYC under the abusive hand of her mother, step-father and step-siblings. I'm hoping this was cathartic for her to write, as Qu's sense of abandonment, shame and confusion really rise from the pages. While I did find her story readable (albeit difficult to hear), it felt much more disjointed and random after the 2/3rds mark. For example, I didn't understand the point of any of the start-up comparisons, and thought t In Made to Order, Qu takes the reader through her experiences growing up in China/NYC under the abusive hand of her mother, step-father and step-siblings. I'm hoping this was cathartic for her to write, as Qu's sense of abandonment, shame and confusion really rise from the pages. While I did find her story readable (albeit difficult to hear), it felt much more disjointed and random after the 2/3rds mark. For example, I didn't understand the point of any of the start-up comparisons, and thought the ending was abrupt. I think there's still some stuff here about abuse, PTSD and generational trauma that need to be fleshed out and explored more. All this being said, rooting for you, Anna!! 3.5 stars, rounded down.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Maureen Grigsby

    A story of complicated family relationships, individual strength, and immigration.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    This memoir could have been so much better, but it really needed help—I think everything about Qu’s working for a failed startup company could have been deleted; it didn’t add to the story and instead just made me skim that part. This was supposed to be about a Chinese child immigrant working in a sweatshop in America, but it really wasn’t about that. This is a story of the abuse she suffered at the hands of her mother who treated her as a maid and ignored her the rest of the time. This would ha This memoir could have been so much better, but it really needed help—I think everything about Qu’s working for a failed startup company could have been deleted; it didn’t add to the story and instead just made me skim that part. This was supposed to be about a Chinese child immigrant working in a sweatshop in America, but it really wasn’t about that. This is a story of the abuse she suffered at the hands of her mother who treated her as a maid and ignored her the rest of the time. This would have still made for an interesting memoir to read but it really needed to be developed more.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ming Liu

    I was really excited to read this, but struggled to get through it. The execution was messy and disoriented, and that took away from the story.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Julie Suzanne

    Drawn in by the shiny cover on the "new releases" display at the public library, and I'm so thankful! Qu's mother left her behind in China to make a life for herself in the land o' opportunity and worked at a sweatshop until she was able to afford to bring her daughter over 5 years later. This sounds like it would be a heartwarming narrative but instead evokes all kinds of unpleasant feelings and ideas. Despite having my heart squeezed painfully, I feel a bit more informed about some Chinese cult Drawn in by the shiny cover on the "new releases" display at the public library, and I'm so thankful! Qu's mother left her behind in China to make a life for herself in the land o' opportunity and worked at a sweatshop until she was able to afford to bring her daughter over 5 years later. This sounds like it would be a heartwarming narrative but instead evokes all kinds of unpleasant feelings and ideas. Despite having my heart squeezed painfully, I feel a bit more informed about some Chinese culture, issues of Chinese immigrants, a little about American sweatshops, a lot more about government agencies and how our government protects the wealthy and does little to protect those of us who need the most protection. You'll see the abuser win in more than one setting. As I felt after reading Tara Westover's Educated, I would like to see swift justice brought upon Qu's parents and siblings, and knowing that it will never come is the disadvantage of opening our eyes to these incredible lives.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Julie Kim

    I finished Made in China in a couple days, but it was hard to read in all its bare honesty and utter vulnerability. In her memoir, Qu walks you through her abuse-filled childhood as a young child of a widowed immigrant mother. After 5 years of waiting for her mother to get her bearings in America while she stays in China with her grandparents, she traverses several continents to arrive at her new home, only to realize that she's an unwanted vestigial nuisance to the family, serving only as a rem I finished Made in China in a couple days, but it was hard to read in all its bare honesty and utter vulnerability. In her memoir, Qu walks you through her abuse-filled childhood as a young child of a widowed immigrant mother. After 5 years of waiting for her mother to get her bearings in America while she stays in China with her grandparents, she traverses several continents to arrive at her new home, only to realize that she's an unwanted vestigial nuisance to the family, serving only as a reminder of her mother's difficult past. What you witness in the subsequent years is a pattern of unrelenting, hateful abuse as seen by her mother's incessant verbal mistreatment, physical violence, forced unpaid child labor, and most symbolically, an emotional and physical (though only temporary) ejection from the place Qu wanted to call home and family. The most tragic part, though, is when the author, even after all those years, still questions the very fact that she got abused. That breaks my heart. To think that a piece of paper from the OCFS based on a stranger's non-committal observance of her family led her to question and doubt all the experiences she lived, felt, and breathed is awful. Qu refrains from using words that portray the extreme depth and drama of her mother's abuse, and I found that interesting. The heaviest accusation she throws at her mother is "being mean." She narrates events matter-of-factly. In fact, the memoir is rather organized and "put-together" for a recollection of such horrid memories. At first, I couldn't tell if that was some emotional distancing deployed as a defense mechanism, which is obviously understandable. But as she details her adult years and her gradual processing of her past experiences, I sensed overwhelming compassion on Qu's part to truly, deeply understand her mother's point of view and how she too was affected by her personal and intergenerational trauma. Qu doesn't mention forgiveness or reconciliation, and the story doesn't necessarily tie together to a happy ending, but her memoir is an engrossing reflection of two people estranged by land, culture, and history. Worth the read. Thank you to the publisher for making this ARC available through Netgalley!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ellis Emerson

    Anna Qu explores a question central to everyone: how reliable is our memory and our interpretation of experiences? There are some wonderfully crafted scenes that bring Qu's experiences to life--describing her work in the sweatshop or her early life in China. Told mostly in a linear structure with some flashbacks. I do wonder if Qu shied away from the deeper pain of the events and to that end, I can't say I blame her. However, in the text it read like not quite enough weight was given to the pain Anna Qu explores a question central to everyone: how reliable is our memory and our interpretation of experiences? There are some wonderfully crafted scenes that bring Qu's experiences to life--describing her work in the sweatshop or her early life in China. Told mostly in a linear structure with some flashbacks. I do wonder if Qu shied away from the deeper pain of the events and to that end, I can't say I blame her. However, in the text it read like not quite enough weight was given to the pain. I think it's also particularly difficult when it's the ones meant to love and protect us that hurt us. You can see Qu grapple with the question of her mother. She clearly wants more from her but also realizes that there isn't more her mom can give. The idea she says as "We are all raised by children." That our parents have their own traumas from their lives. It was really profound! Even with some areas where Qu may have shied away, she really comes to some moments of really amazing clarity and profound meaning! I found myself reading on to see how she got out of her situation and what meaning she made of it. The protective services report was a shocking moment that was not what I expected. I won't give it away, but it changed the narrator and was a powerful lens by which we can understand family, culture and how our own experiences color how we see others.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie Brien

    I had a hard time engaging with this, very negative tone and the story jumped around a lot. I hoped to learn more about the sweatshops in America, but that was a small part of the book. Definitely heartbreaking what this woman suffered, and I’m glad she has made her way to a good life in spite of her tragedy. Thanks NetGalley for the advanced copy.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    The title and description of the book really has nothing to do the content. I thought it would be a good read on immigrant life working in a sweatshop but quickly realize that the book is about harsh feelings and emotional abuse from her mother. I did not enjoy the book and felt it was not well written. Don’t waste your time.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Thank you to Goodreads for having this giveaway. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It makes you appreciate any love you received from your family because Anna received very little from the person who should have given her the most. I can't imagine enduring the loneliness she had at the hands of her own mother. I hope she lives a life filled with the love and happiness she never had growing up. Thank you to Goodreads for having this giveaway. I thoroughly enjoyed this book! It makes you appreciate any love you received from your family because Anna received very little from the person who should have given her the most. I can't imagine enduring the loneliness she had at the hands of her own mother. I hope she lives a life filled with the love and happiness she never had growing up.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Susan Thuvanuti

    Anna has a very tough life. Raised in China for seven years, then sent to the US to live with her biological mother who doesn’t want her. This book shows how one girl overcame unimaginable obstacles.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Chris Tedrick

    Exceptionally well written. Honest. Vulnerable. Fearless. I can't wait to read more from this author. Exceptionally well written. Honest. Vulnerable. Fearless. I can't wait to read more from this author.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Vivian

    Made in China is the memoir of Anna Qu, a Chinese immigrant in New York, whose mother treated her with unimaginable petty cruelty, which was summarized pretty well in the synopsis so I won’t go into. Qu persevered, a combination of personal strong will and circumstantial luck, managed to get into university, graduate school, and hold down a startup job in NYC. It is quite a personal tale, a story with great potentials to go deep and profound; but it didn’t. Overall I feel Qu’s insights stayed ba Made in China is the memoir of Anna Qu, a Chinese immigrant in New York, whose mother treated her with unimaginable petty cruelty, which was summarized pretty well in the synopsis so I won’t go into. Qu persevered, a combination of personal strong will and circumstantial luck, managed to get into university, graduate school, and hold down a startup job in NYC. It is quite a personal tale, a story with great potentials to go deep and profound; but it didn’t. Overall I feel Qu’s insights stayed barely beneath the surface; some parts of the book especially rubbed me the wrong way and I had to get it off my chest: * Maybe the book wanted to get into the US vs. China hype, a lot of her descriptions uphold the typical western rhetorics and prejudices against China. Even the book title is eye-rollingly unoriginal. Qu made it seem her mother’s cruelty is not uncommon in “communist China”, where people lived in harsh conditions, and abuse and trauma passed down generations. People just didn’t know better. I totally get that and this is also one reason I use to explain away some of my childhood unhappiness. But let’s get the fact straight, Qu’s mother was exceptionally and unnecessarily cruel to her, a psychopath even. And her stepfather was just as culpable, they both seemed to have lacked basic human decency (to a child!). When her mother refused to co-sign Qu’s student loan, knowing this could get her kicked out of university, or later when the mother refused to give Qu her grandmother’s contact information, these instances were just purely malicious. This is not normal behavior no matter one’s country of origin and culture background. * In the last two chapters, Qu touched on how difficult her mother’s own life must have been, hinted the trauma and parental abuse the mother suffered, trying to see things from her mother’s perspective, etc. All of this seemed to suggest a rushed forgiveness. I get that, but unfortunately forgiveness is not a state you can rush to and say “I forgive you, and everything is fine now.” No matter how extenuating the parents’ circumstance might have been, it does not undone the damages they’ve inflicted on their children. When these abused children grow into adults, they need to process the deep-buried anger towards their caregivers, mourn over the loss of a childhood stuck in arrested development, extend self-compassion towards themselves, and maybe, eventual forgiveness towards the abusers. I don’t know - maybe publishing a book means you have to reach some kind of conclusion, epiphany or happy ending. But forgiveness takes time and work. Nobody should feel obligated and pressured into forgiving their abusive parents prematurely. Anna, you don’t have to forgive your mother, it’s okay if you can and you want to, but you don’t have to. * American dream was painted throughout the book in the age-old simplistic form - “American dream is great, anyone can achieve class mobility in America.” No, the American dream was and is complicated. A lot of personal sacrifices, family separations, loss of belonging and culture, discriminations, and loneliness transpire in this supposed dream-making process. Nobody can say with completely certainty at the end whether it was worth it or not. In a way both Qu and her mother were lucky, because they made it. Some people make it out of their stories unscathed, thriving. Some people don’t. It is unfair, but so is life. Just look at hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants in America. What about their American dream? So, I wish Qu’s memoir could have gone deeper. But I’m happy that she survived and lived to tell her remarkable story.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Donia

    This memoir was very poorly constructed. A ghost writer would have made a large difference helping to pull Anna's story into a cohesive read. As the memoir was written it was extremely choppy and often didn't make sense. I'm sorry Anna suffered as much as she did and I hope she got some insight by writing her story. I spent much time in China and Xian in particular. I realize there are many cultural differences between American life and the life of Chinese people. However, it seemed to me that This memoir was very poorly constructed. A ghost writer would have made a large difference helping to pull Anna's story into a cohesive read. As the memoir was written it was extremely choppy and often didn't make sense. I'm sorry Anna suffered as much as she did and I hope she got some insight by writing her story. I spent much time in China and Xian in particular. I realize there are many cultural differences between American life and the life of Chinese people. However, it seemed to me that Anna often did her best to make things more difficult than they needed to be; I felt this in particular while she was sent back there to live and attend private school. She seemed to have plenty of $$$$ to go shopping with while living in Xian. That puzzled me. likely her feeling of being unloved was the reason she made life so difficult for herself s0 much of the time.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Raghu

    I picked up this book, assuming it to be a novel. It turned out to be the poignant memoir of a young Chinese woman, Anna Qu, who grows up in New York City in the 1990s. As the title says, it is a memoir of love and labor. It weaves her life with that of her immigrant mother in the 1980s in New York City, her mother’s expectations and their tortuous parent-child relationship. It is a twenty-first century work of Dickensian overtones, depicting punishing working conditions, emotional rejection, pr I picked up this book, assuming it to be a novel. It turned out to be the poignant memoir of a young Chinese woman, Anna Qu, who grows up in New York City in the 1990s. As the title says, it is a memoir of love and labor. It weaves her life with that of her immigrant mother in the 1980s in New York City, her mother’s expectations and their tortuous parent-child relationship. It is a twenty-first century work of Dickensian overtones, depicting punishing working conditions, emotional rejection, privation and broken families. We see the familiar sketches of sacrifices and resilience of the first-generation immigrants, their high expectations for the next generation, and the clash of Chinese and American cultures within the family. The cruelties, anger and resentment portrayed in this memoir make for tough reading, but the way the book ends makes it a pleasing and fulfilling read. Life was hard and traumatic in the 1960s and 70s for most Chinese living under Mao Ze Dong. They endured the famines between 1957-62 and the horrors of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966-69). But Globalization opened China up to the world in the late 1970s, giving them opportunities to better their lives. It was not uncommon in the 1980s for young Chinese to leave their small children in the care of grandparents in China and come to the US for work. Author Anna Qu was a child of fifteen months in 1985 when her father dies of an unknown illness in Wenzhou, China. Anna’s mother tries to get help and support from her husband’s family. Instead, they spurn her with no sympathy. However, a relative in New York City offers to help Anna’s mother migrate to the US. She leaves Anna with her grandparents and goes to the US. In those days, Chinese immigrant women with little education found work in sweatshops of the garment industry or laundry business or Chinese restaurants in the US. Qu’s mother finds work in a garment factory, works hard, and soon marries the Taiwanese owner of the factory. She endures the instant hostility of her in-laws simply because she is from mainland China. Taiwanese in the US looked down on the mainland Chinese, seeing them as ‘xiang xia zen’, country folk, who can’t think for themselves. Undaunted, she gets her daughter Anna to come to New York and join her. Bringing one’s kids to live with them is a rite of passage and talked-about privilege amongst the Chinese immigrants. It signifies you have moved up in the Chinese community. Anna was seven years old when she comes to New York City. For her, it was a move from the love and care of her grandparents to a loveless and punishing life under her mother. Anna’s mother sends her to school, but makes her work after school in the family’s sweatshop in Queens for long hours. At home, she treats her daughter like a maid. Anna’s daily chores included making sure her half-siblings took their baths, cleaning her parents’ room and the bathrooms, making their bed, washing the dishes and prepping for dinner. By age thirteen, before leaving for school, she waxed the couch, Windexed the windows and mirrors, scrubbed the deck, clear out the trash, and dusted the blinds. This was the Chinese immigrant way. Helping at home was ‘ying gai de’ - expected. Anna’s mother pays her a salary at the factory, but takes it back at home to account for her living expenses. The only way Anna got anything she wanted was by waiting, enduring, and not asking for it outright. Anna calls it a woman’s (Chinese woman) life and rebels, demanding more freedom. However, it only makes her mother berate her for being ungrateful. As punishment, she sends Anna back to China but not to her grandparents in Wenzhou. Instead, she sends Anna to Xi’an to stay with the elderly parents of a worker at her factory. Just as Anna turned fifteen, her mother relents and brings her back to New York City. Anna’s struggle for independence, love and acceptance continue at home with little success. A frustrated seventeen-year-old Anna reports her mother to Child Services, alleging abusive mistreatment. This act of hers had consequences that reverberated well into the next two decades of her life. She leaves home, gets a college education and finds a job at a start-up. As Anna enters her thirties, she requests her case papers from the Child Services where she had reported her mother. When she gets them, she finds important details of her case were documented wrong. It prompts her to reflect more deeply about the abusive home situation of her teens, her mother and grandparents and also the Chinese background, which applies to all of them. She arrives at a new harmony with herself and her family. The memoir ends with her re-uniting with her loving grandmother. Anna’s spiritual reconciliation with her mother comes unexpectedly as she goes to watch a play titled ‘Midnight Kill’ in the East Village with her friend Amanda. It was a story set in the times of the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s in China. The play strikes Anna as an insight into her own life. It reveals to Anna that in adulthood, her mother acted the way she did because of her childhood experiences in China. As she ponders, Anna grasps the sacrifices her mother made for survival and class mobility. She now understands the unceasing hunger and desperation her mother showed during Anna’s teen years. Anna concludes that China’s communism has handed down trauma to generations of its people, right from their childhood. Her mother herself is a child shaped by her trauma, unable to forget or overcome what happened to her. In her own helpless way, she passed it on unwittingly to the next generation. Anna has an epiphany that kids like her were all raised by mothers who were children themselves. Anna’s analysis tries to understand her mother as a child of her own parents and as a child of the China of the 1960s. It is perhaps not too different from how psychiatrists in the US approach the problem. Don’t we all try to understand ourselves through our relationship with our parents?. However, I think it still leaves the question only partly answered. Anna sees the hardship of the famines and cruelties of the Cultural Revolution as the causes of trauma she finds in her mother. If so, the question arises whether we see the same trauma among people in other countries which also suffered under communism. The Germans, for example, lived under the hatred, violence and war of the Nazis for twelve years. Then, the eastern part of Germany fell under the communist yoke for another 44 years. But East German literature or movies do not depict German family life as traumatized as we see in this memoir. The same may be true of Russian art as well, despite the Stalinist purges and famines. We could say the Cultural Revolution and the Great leap Forward were brutal in their own unique ways and cannot be correlated with Stalinism. I wish the author had probed whether the Chinese upbringing of girls has something to do with her mother’s behavior. Amy Chua’s book on ‘Tiger Moms’ also talked about Chinese mothers. She wrote about their tough love, their excessively controlling, harsh, and demanding behavior, asking for unquestioning obedience. She portrayed them as immune to the child’s needs, wishes, or emotional well-being. But Chua wrote about middle-class Chinese mothers today and not impoverished mothers of 1960s. Anna’s mother tells her daughter not to ask what the mother owes her, but what Anna should do for the family. It is not about her entitlement as a daughter, but what she deserves to get through her obedience. It is as if even the mother’s love is not an entitlement, but has to be deserved. Hence, I think the Cultural Revolution explains the trauma of Anna’s mother only partly. The memoir is engrossing to read. It also makes you sad and melancholic, turning you against the mother for most of the book. Just as how the Child Services authorities misrepresented Anna’s case details in their records, the average non-Chinese reader may also find it difficult to comprehend the reasons for which Anna makes peace with her family in the end. It is a mesmerizing and moving memoir.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    Found it to be very confusing to follow. Jumped around a lot and seemed disorganized. Was an interesting story.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Shana

    *Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest review* This heartbreaking memoir is the exploration of Anna Qu's upbringing and re-engagement with those memories as an adult. When her father dies, Qu's mother heads to the US to work and leaves her daughter with her parents. Years later, Qu follows her mother to New York and into a new life that involves a stepfather and two half siblings. Her mother treats her like a servant, neglects her needs, is emotionally abusive, and makes her *Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest review* This heartbreaking memoir is the exploration of Anna Qu's upbringing and re-engagement with those memories as an adult. When her father dies, Qu's mother heads to the US to work and leaves her daughter with her parents. Years later, Qu follows her mother to New York and into a new life that involves a stepfather and two half siblings. Her mother treats her like a servant, neglects her needs, is emotionally abusive, and makes her work in the family sweatshop in Queens. It's a tough read simply for these descriptions of abuse. Qu eventually talks to her school counselor and agrees to have her call the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), and while this changes a few things, her relationship with her mother remains volatile. As an adult, Qu then seeks her OCFS files as she reflects on her childhood, and sees that it is riddled with errors. More importantly, she sees that her situation was declared as "Not Abuse," and that leads to another set of complicated questions. Though deeply personal, this book also speaks volumes to the effects of intergenerational trauma and how that can play out.

  26. 5 out of 5

    britt_brooke

    Not solely a memoir, but a reminder of the forgotten female immigrant laborers. Mother and daughter moved to the US from China. Teenaged Anna is viewed as denouncing the family with her acculturated Americanness. She’s mentally and physically abused, and forced into garment factory work (a sweatshop) in Queens, NY. One day, Anna contacts Child Protective Services - a brave move affecting the rest of her life.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jill Dobbe

    A startling memoir of abuse, sweatshops, and families. Anna Qu grows up in China without a father, living with her grandparents until her mother returns to bring her back to the U.S. Her mother remarried and has two more children, building a new life for herself. As Anna is brought into the family, she has hopes of a beautiful reunion and relationship with her mother. Instead, she is treated with contempt and hate by the entire family. A sad and demoralizing account of growing up with a hostile m A startling memoir of abuse, sweatshops, and families. Anna Qu grows up in China without a father, living with her grandparents until her mother returns to bring her back to the U.S. Her mother remarried and has two more children, building a new life for herself. As Anna is brought into the family, she has hopes of a beautiful reunion and relationship with her mother. Instead, she is treated with contempt and hate by the entire family. A sad and demoralizing account of growing up with a hostile mother who cares only for appearances and money, she hides her daughter, forces her to be the maid, and work in the sweatshop at a young age. With little to no help from her mother, she goes on to graduate college and graduate school to earn an MFA. The author tries to understand why her mother cannot love her in the way she wants until her grandmother comes to the U.S. Through stories of her mother's childhood, she begins to understand what happened to her mother and why she is the way she is. Made in China is a story that will grip readers' hearts from beginning to end. Thank you, Anna Qu, publisher, and NetGalley for the ARC.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Steve Haruch

    What Anna Qu has achieved with Made in China is understated and extraordinary. At its center Made in China is a deeply, often painfully personal story about family, upward mobility, and the thin line between a harsh upbringing and an abusive one. There are no easy answers here, and Qu is never content to simply vilify. Instead, she vividly renders a childhood spent in fear — treated largely like a servant in a household where her presence was a terrible reminder of a life her mother wanted to fo What Anna Qu has achieved with Made in China is understated and extraordinary. At its center Made in China is a deeply, often painfully personal story about family, upward mobility, and the thin line between a harsh upbringing and an abusive one. There are no easy answers here, and Qu is never content to simply vilify. Instead, she vividly renders a childhood spent in fear — treated largely like a servant in a household where her presence was a terrible reminder of a life her mother wanted to forget — until eventually she is put to work in a sweatshop owned by her family. Something has to give, and does. Additionally, it's a book that asks us to consider that, while immigrants may in fact get the job done, there is a cost to that productivity that can go unnoticed, even by other immigrants — and there are layers of class, education and other privilege to consider. I admire the detail, the patient and vulnerable way Qu trawls her memory; as she puts it, "It was terrible and surprising how things turned out."

  29. 4 out of 5

    Julie Tieu

    In MADE IN CHINA, Anna Qu reflects on her difficult upbringing, being raised by her grandparents in China while her mom immigrated to America. When she reunited with her mom in Queens, she soon realized that she didn't fit in with her mother's new family and she was treated differently from her half-siblings. In her memoir, she explores the abusive relationship with her mother, the generational trauma that stems from poverty, famine, family separation, systems that fail its constituents, unfulfi In MADE IN CHINA, Anna Qu reflects on her difficult upbringing, being raised by her grandparents in China while her mom immigrated to America. When she reunited with her mom in Queens, she soon realized that she didn't fit in with her mother's new family and she was treated differently from her half-siblings. In her memoir, she explores the abusive relationship with her mother, the generational trauma that stems from poverty, famine, family separation, systems that fail its constituents, unfulfilled good intentions, and immigration. There are painful moments, but the tone of the memoir is one that seeks to understand these complicated feelings. While it was heartbreaking to read, I was fully engrossed in this memoir. It offers a real look at the darker consequences and life experiences of immigrants in America in their quest for the American dream and upward mobility. Thank you NetGalley and Catapult for the ARC.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Anna Qu was born in China and her father died not long after her birth. Her mother was desperate for money and managed to scrape up enough money to go to America, but she had to leave Anna with her grandparents. When Anna was 7 her mother was able to bring her to America, but by that point Anna barely knew her mother having spent the past 5 years being raised by her grandparents. Her mother had also remarried and had two more children. Anna struggled to learn English and acclimate to school, but Anna Qu was born in China and her father died not long after her birth. Her mother was desperate for money and managed to scrape up enough money to go to America, but she had to leave Anna with her grandparents. When Anna was 7 her mother was able to bring her to America, but by that point Anna barely knew her mother having spent the past 5 years being raised by her grandparents. Her mother had also remarried and had two more children. Anna struggled to learn English and acclimate to school, but she was also the outcast at home - constantly reminded that her father was dead and that she was a drain/embarrassment/worthless/etc. At the age of fourteen she was forced to work up to 40 hours per week in the family sweatshop - that was after she went to school all day. She was beaten if she was caught doing homework at night (after coming home from the sweatshop and cleaning the whole house for her family). Finally she contacted child services on her own mother and while it further strained their already bad relationship it did allow Anna the freedom to choose her own part time job after school and keep the money she earned. But, when she graduated from high school she was immediately cut off from her family and they never helped her financially other than $200 when she went off to college. As an adult working in a failing start-up Anna starts to remember and contemplate her childhood. She requests a copy of her OCFS file and realizes that while it did help, OCFS did not consider her to be in an abusive home which throws her for a loop questioning herself and her experiences growing up. At the end of the book she is able to reconnect with her grandmother who has moved to the US after her grandfather's death. That definitely helps end the book with a brighter outlook. Some reviews I read complained that the section of her working for the start-up were unnecessary and could have been left out. But, I disagree. I think that section and all the turmoil of the start-up going under brought up a lot of her childhood issues that she had pushed down over the years. She even states that maybe her judgement is off since she couldn't see this coming with her job. I think that is what prompts her to re-examine her childhood and the OCFS report - and then eventually reconnect with her grandmother. I absolutely LOVED this book even though it was sad. Anna is an amazing writer and while this book is short, it is packed with emotion and content. I probably could have read the whole book in one sitting if I hadn't started it right before going out of town. Some quotes I liked: "As my mother's daughter, it was my duty to serve her, to obey and please her. I was aware of my fundamental flaw. My mother and I were at the cusp of being who we would always be to each other and there would be no happy ending for us." (p. 109) "The sharp edges of her words dug into a familiar scar, and an old, knowing feeling beckoned. This was how it always was and how it will always be with her, the feeling told me. It was an old childhood wound that had aired, healed, scabbed over, but here we were, picking at it again." (p. 152) "My grandparents represented a period of time before the red-brick house, before I understood what it meant to be lonely. In hindsight, there was a short window of my childhood that was happy and sheltered, and they had given me that. Everything after - living with my mother, being sent back to China, the four months at the sweatshop, and calling child services were years I wanted to forget. A secret we both harbored." (p. 153-54) "I am beginning to realize that we are all raised by children. Children that are shaped by their own traumas, some of them unable to forget or overcome what happened to them before they passed it along." (p. 191)

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