Reviews

“GRACE IN CHINA reveals both a fascinating true love story of a Chinese-American marriage and a unique personal insight into Chinese-American history during the tumultuous years of 1934-1974. These years of violent change still influence the future of China and the United States and indeed the world. If you’ve watched the presidential debates, you know that China policy is one of the top issues, an issue which demands better understanding by leaders and citizens alike. This book can help, and what’s more, it’s a great read!
Grace meets FuChi Liu–her beloved “F.C.”–in New York City where she is training to become an opera singer and he is working as a hydraulic engineer. Their heart-tugging courtship and marriage is followed by Grace’s exciting journey to China with her baby daughter to make a new life with her husband. For 40 eventful years she is an eyewitness to history in China.

Grace meets FuChi Liu–her beloved “F.C.”–in New York City where she is training to become an opera singer and he is working as a hydraulic engineer. Their heart-tugging courtship and marriage is followed by Grace’s exciting journey to China with her baby daughter to make a new life with her husband. For 40 eventful years she is an eyewitness to history in China.

The early years are full of vivid scenes of the social life and corruption of the “old ways,” mixed with her husband’s struggle to bring change. Then come harsh stories of the Japanese invasion and occupation, the joyful arrival of U.S.Marines, and finally disenchantment with Chna’s post-war leaders. As the Communists approach her city of Tientsin, Grace resolves to stay with F.C. instead of fleeing with other “foreigners.” With a sense of history in the making, she watches hordes of “apple-cheeked” young soldiers of the Red Army march down her street.

The early years are full of vivid scenes of the social life and corruption of the “old ways,” mixed with her husband’s struggle to bring change. Then come harsh stories of the Japanese invasion and occupation, the joyful arrival of U.S.Marines, and finally disenchantment with Chna’s post-war leaders. As the Communists approach her city of Tientsin, Grace resolves to stay with F.C. instead of fleeing with other “foreigners.” With a sense of history in the making, she watches hordes of “apple-cheeked” young soldiers of the Red Army march down her street.

For the Liu family, life goes on surprisingly well under the new regime as Grace and F.C. work hard “for the Chinese people.” Unfortunately, F.C. dies from lung cancer at the height of his national career of bringing modern water systems to many regions of China. How Grace manages to survive with the help of her three children and warm-hearted neighbors makes an inspiring story. With “gumption,” this southern girl undertakes a fulfilling career of her own by developing new methods of teaching English at Nankai University. But what happens to her and her family during the Cultural Revolution provides hair-raising reading. Finally in 1974, after Nixon’s visit to China, she comes back to the United States to reunite with her American relatives. But China is her true home now. Her ironic return to Tientsin (now Tianjin) gives a moving conclusion to this unusual and significant biography of a woman who possessed a special kind of “grace under pressure” in time of war,social upheaval and personal challenge.

The authors of GRACE IN CHINA, who are her cousin and son, have skillfully created a vivid document that reads like a novel, using well-preserved letters, memoirs, interviews, articles, photographs and other primary resources blended seamlessly with excellent background narration. The editing is a triumph of weaving many voices into strong, intimate storytelling. Many scenes are so humorous, passionate, or dramatic that the reader can almost see the action on a movie screen compelling as one’s own imagination. But it’s all true–and it’s a story that begs to be heard.

The small press editor of GRACE IN CHINA, Randall Williams of Black Belt Press in Montgomery, Ala., deserves praise for recognizing an important, memorable book that deserves both critical and popular acclaim. Since a small independent press doesn’t have the resources for extensive publicity, “word of mouth” will have to spread the news.”

– Elinor D. Benedict


 

“The extraordinary life of a courageous, outspoken American woman who survived forty years of upheaval in twentieth-century China . . . A unique perspective on a period of -critical transformations in China.”

—Kirkus Reviews


 

“Reads like a riveting and complex novel. Set against the fascinating backdrop of China during the Cultural Revolution, it is the story of a strong woman who followed her heart against the odds.”

—Lee Smith, The Last Girls