Paring childhood stories with her nature photography, Earth Passages: Journeys Through Childhood is Lora Jo Foo’sbeautifully collaged memoir of escaping hard living in San Francisco Chinatown and finding sanctuary in woods.Wendy Lee deftly renders the delicate and precarious contours of the international adoption experience in her debutHappy Family.
From the age of 11, Lora Jo Foo worked as a garment worker in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Earth Passages: Journeys Through Childhood recounts the painful and intimate stories from that childhood. Elaine H. Kim, Professor of Asian American Studies in the UC Berkeley Department of Ethnic Studies, says, “Earth Passages gives readers tantalizing glimpses into Lora Jo Foo’s memories of childhood and especially of her mother, whom she can forgive after she is able to describe the pain in expressive vignettes and attempt to heal it with images of nature that she captures with the eyes and heart of an artist.” Foo is also the author of Asian American Women: Issues, Concerns, and Responsive Human and Civil Rights Advocacy, recently published by the Ford Foundation. Alongside her fiction writing and nature photography, she works as attorney and advocates for worker rights.
Wendy Lee worked for two years in China as a volunteer English teacher at the first women’s private college in the country, Hwa Nan Women’s College, located in Fuzhou. This city found its way into Lee’s first novel, Happy Family, as the hometown of narrator, stalwart nanny Hua Wu. The San Francisco Chronicle describes Happy Family saying, “[Lee] deals with a hot-button issue in a manner neither shy nor didactic, and she invests her characters with humanity when they might easily become sociological types. Happy Family is worth reading for those reasons alone, and serves as the debut of a writer who may well do great work later on.” Lee was compelled to write on the subject of the international adoption experience after reading an article on the adoption of Chinese baby girls in which a parent commented that they adopted from China, because unlike adopting in the U.S., there was no chance of the mother taking the child away. The threat of this stands at the crux of this slim yet resonant volume.
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