China Dolls: A Novel

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9780312378011: China Dolls: A Novel

Meet the three unforgettable women of China Dolls

M.J., a New York City–based journalist trying to achieve her dreams of becoming what her traditional Chinese parents could have never imagined: an on-air broadcaster in the very white, very male world of sports. . . . Alex, a successful lawyer who constantly fights the stereotype of the submissive, docile Asian woman---until heartbreak leaves her speechless. . . . and Lin, a Wall Street exec whose interest in the office playboy puts her at risk of falling head over Jimmy Choo heels in love. . . .

From red envelopes to pink slips, Mahjong to speed dating, these twentysomething women can always find time to bridge their worlds and come together to dish, dine, whine, and have dim sum as they journey through the ups and downs of life and love. And what a wonderful ride it is!

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Michelle Yu, a sports reporter, and lawyer Blossom Kan are cousins who both live in New York City.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

China Dolls
m. j.Thoughts to WynBY M.J. WYN 
My obsession began in high school. His name was Justin Howard, and we were both on the school's sports broadcasting team, SPORTV. To the girls in our class, he was a perfect 10 with his blond hair, blue eyes, and made-for-football body. To the guys, he was nothing short of a god.And then there was me with my black hair, black almond-shaped eyes, and very non-Baywatch looks. Maybe I should have known that there never was a contest between us. What did it matter that he didn't know a deuce from an ace or that he couldn't get through two sentences on air without a stutter or a stammer? He was a man, and a white man at that. How could he not be chosen over me as SPORTV's "National High School Sports Correspondent" sophomore year? And yet, even though I knew all this, there I was, crying my eyes out in my room for four straight hours, reenacting a Nancy Kerrigan and screaming "Why? Why me!"Nobody really understood my pain. They all thought I was in way over my head and a sore loser to boot. Never mind the fact that I was leagues and miles better than Justin Howard or that I'd nailed SPORTV's "entrance exam" while he'd barely mustered a passing mark. After all, what kind of sportscaster didn't know that the Chicago Cubs hadn't won a World Series since 1908 or that the only player in tennis history to win a Golden Slam was Steffi Graf? As I watched Justin high-fiving his buddies and regaling the cheerleaders about the gig he'd been handed on a silver platter, I decided then and there that I'd never feel that way again. But what was a girl to do?Dyeing my hair blond was an option, but peroxide and I didn't quite go together. Besides, there was still that messy little Y-chromosome problem. So I didthe only thing I could do. I studied tapes, obsessed over stats, and played as hard as I could--all in preparation for that one day when my moment would come. If sports has taught me anything, it's that we all need one chance, that one moment when the years of hard work come together in a perfect confluence of timing and events. It's that moment in 1980 when the U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey team won their "Miracle" gold medal. In 2000 when Rulon Gardner beat the Russian Goliath of Greco-Roman wrestling. And in 2004 when the no-name, no-star Detroit Pistons crushed the razzle-dazzle glamour of the L.A. Lakers.There's no real strategy to finding the right path to life and success. Anyone who's ever played to win knows that working hard is the best way. Not all of us get to land our dreams as quickly as Justin Howard did.First Quarter 
 
one"IT'S BOGUS that the score's tied. I thought the Knicks would steamroll through the Clippers for sure." It was Thursday night, and M.J. was trying to shout above the din at the local sports bar, Ship of Fools."I don't know how you spend all day watching this stuff." Lin took a sip of her Carlo Rossi. "It's just a bunch of sweaty guys trying to get a ball into a basket. What's so exciting about that?"M.J. chuckled as she watched Lin make her patented ew-cheap-wine face. Lin's taste certainly hadn't changed much since their first day of freshman year in college. She had sighed as she watched her childhood friend show up at the dorm with her twelve-piece, matching Louis Vuitton luggage. With her porcelain skin, silky black hair, and perfectly accessorized wardrobe, Lin was the epitome of sophistication and chic. Next to her, M.J. always felt like a pre-fairy godmother Cinderella, especially with her no-nonsense ponytail and no-name jeans. While she would occasionally make a halfhearted foray into the world of makeup, M.J. always ended up looking like a character fresh out of a Judy Collins song. Somewhere between Lin's amethyst purple cell phone and M.J.'s tennis rackets, however, the two had managed to find common ground.Lin got up. "I need to see if they have anything better thancooking wine in this place." She wrinkled her nose. "Do you want anything?"M.J. nodded. "Another Amstel Light would be great, thanks."She took a look at her watch as Lin stepped away to order their drinks. The Heat-Rockets game was coming up soon on TNT, and she wanted to make sure she didn't miss the big showdown between Yao Ming and Shaquille O'Neal. Just as she gulped down the rest of her beer, the Knight Rider ring tone on her cell phone started playing."Hello?" M.J. said, putting down her glass."Hey, it's Ming. What's happening? What are you up to tonight?"Ming Chan was a sportswriter with the Big Apple Times, as well as the son of a family friend of the Wyns. After meeting at several Lunar New Year parties and spending considerable time together covering games on the road, Ming and M.J. had become good friends. Picturing his round, boyish face and stocky, solid build, she couldn't help smiling.M.J. cranked up the volume on her phone. "Hey, Ming, I'm good. Actually watching the Knicks game right now at Ship of Fools. You?""I'm just finishing up a story--calling to see if you wanted to hang with May and me. But it's Thursday night, so I'm guessing you're out with someone named Harry or William or Prescott."M.J. rolled her eyes. Growing up in the predominantly Caucasian neighborhood of Riverdale up in the Bronx, she had inevitably dated some of her Abercrombie & Fitch-type classmates."You're such a moron, Ming. FYI, I'm not here with any white boys, just Lin. When will you stop with your stupid comments?""Whatever," he said, "you're always complaining to me about how you never meet the right guy."M.J. sighed. "I don't have time for this. I don't know how May puts up with your bullshit."Ming was undeterred. "That's because May knows about relationships--Asian relationships, that is."She slapped her hand down on the table. "Ming!""Fine, fine. Just don't come crawling to me when your mom flips out the day you head to the altar. I can just imagine how upset she'll be when she sees that her new son-in-law is a white dude.""Good-bye, Ming," M.J. said curtly. "I'll ring you later. Hopefully, we can do dinner next week."As she flipped her phone closed, Lin came back with their drinks."Who was that on the phone?" she asked."Just Ming," M.J. muttered. "I told him to leave me alone.""Oh, is he ragging on you about your boyfriends again? How are Ming and May, by the way? Still planning the traditional Asian wedding with the red qipao?""Yup." She nodded. "The two of them are so much in love that I sometimes can't stand hanging out with them. They even take me to Chinatown to scope out Asian men.""Sounds like something my family would do." Lin rolled her eyes.M.J. laughed at the thought of Lin's mother, Kim--she could picture her shaking her finger at them and saying, "You marry good Chinese man, you not have these problems."Lin sipped her drink. "I guess Ming and May don't understand about your thing for preppy types."M.J. shrugged and took a swig of her Amstel Light. "Yeah, whatever. Let's get back to the game." That was when she caught sight of a made-up blond woman batting her eyelashes at the seven guys milling around her."Ugh, J ... do we really have to sit through another two hours of this?" Lin moaned at the television. "I don't know how you ever got into this basketball thing.""Oh, come on, Lin, you know I've been a Michael Jordan fan since I was eight." M.J. had had her life mapped out the moment she watched the Chicago Bulls win their first NBA title in 1991. Her birthday was the day after, and when she blew out her eleven birthday candles, she closed her eyes and made a wish that she would one day become the first female Asian sportscaster on ESPN."Oh, and guess what? I'm meeting with the sports director of PlayBall Network next week to show him my demo reel.""No way--that's great! I'm sure you're totally going to dazzle him." Lin looked up at the monitor. "You know, maybe if you were announcing these games, I'd be more interested in watching."M.J. laughed as she glanced back over in the direction of the blond chick, who was making overly enthusiastic cheers every time the Knicks scored a point. It was scenarios like these she couldn't stand. "Looks like that girl's pretending to like sports to get those dudes to like her, and they're eating it all up. Every last one of them.""Well, not everyone knows sports." Lin turned around to see what was going on. "Look at me--I only know money.""Yeah, but at least you don't pretend. Some girls just put on this act so they can get a guy. But you know what bothers me most?" M.J. leaned forward. "Men say they like girls who like sports. That's a lie. What they really like are women who prance around in cute little tennis skirts and cheer."Lin chuckled. "You're probably right. That girl seems pretty clueless."M.J. finished her third Amstel Light and shoved aside the bowl of peanuts she'd been munching on. Feeling a buzz, she nodded at Lin and started walking toward the guys. Looking like she'd seen this scenario before, Lin trailed after her friend."What are you doing, J?" Lin hissed."I'm going to prove to you I'm right. Get ready to be entertained," M.J. whispered. She marched up to one of the guys--a typical corporate type--and tapped him on the shoulder. "Excuse me, hi!" M.J. batted her eyelashes. "Do you know how many points Jamaal Winston scored tonight?"The wannabe Brooks Brothers model in the oxford shirt smiled. "He scored seventeen. Are you a Knicks fan?""Of course I am. I've been a fan all my life. My favorite player on the team is Patrick Ewing," she chirped.The guy laughed as his buddies all turned to check the girlsout. Meanwhile, the blonde tossed her hair and pranced away in a huff."Umm ... Patrick Ewing retired." He raised an eyebrow. "He doesn't play for the Knicks anymore."M.J. clapped a hand to her mouth. "Oops. I didn't know that. He's great, though.""Yes, he is." One of the other guys smirked. "So, what's your name?"Well, I'm M.J., and this is my friend, Lin." She smiled. "What about you boys?"The wannabe Brooks Brothers model nodded toward his friends. "I'm Dan, and these are my buddies, John, Damon, Keith, Lucas, Gil, and Jeremy."M.J. grinned as she exchanged greetings with the group. She lived for moments like this. There was nothing sweeter to her than toying with a bunch of Neanderthals."Nice to meet you all," she said as Lin just smiled."Did anyone ever tell you that you look like Lucy Liu?" Damon leered at M.J."She gets that sometimes," Lin piped up. "She could be a Charlie's Angel."M.J. just smiled. "I can definitely kick some ass--when the situation calls for it. So ... Dan, what other teams do you like?""Well, I was a big Bulls fan back in the days of Jordan and Pippen.""Really? Me, too! I know everything about them."This was really too easy. Anyone who knew M.J. knew better than to get her started on the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan. After all, it had to be fate that she had the same initials as Michael Jordan, right?"Everything?" Dan chuckled. "You're funny.""What do you mean?" M.J. opened her eyes wide."Well, it's just a bold statement, that's all."M.J.'s innocent smile turned sly. "You don't believe me, do you?""Well ..." He shrugged. "You did think Ewing still played for the Knicks.""Try me. Just one question. Loser buys the other a beer. In fact," M.J. paused, "I'll buy all your buddies a round of beer if I'm wrong."That was enough to make all of Dan's friends turn and cheer him on."Sounds good to me." He grinned. "Here's a teaser. Who scored the game-winning shot in the last game of the Bulls' fifth championship title?"M.J. scratched her head very slowly. "Uh-oh." Then she turned and winked at Lin, who laughed."I'm sorry," Dan smirked, "but I guess you owe me and my buddies a round of Bass."She flashed him her biggest smile. "Not so fast. I believe that the individual you're talking about was a Second Team All-American senior at Arizona in 1988 by the name of Steve Kerr. The current TNT analyst scored with .2 seconds left in the game with an assist by Michael Jeffrey Jordan to lift the Bulls to a 1997 title."The guys' jaws dropped.M.J. smiled. "That would be a round of beer for me and my friend, I believe. But since I can't bear being around people who don't know sports, I think I'm gonna pass."She glanced over at Lin and signaled her to go."She's a sportswriter," Lin called out as she ran off with M.J., leaving the boys shaking their heads behind them."Told you I'm right." M.J. grinned. "Now do you believe that men don't really like women who know sports?"Lin just laughed.twoM.J. OFTEN wished she felt half as confident about life as she did about sports. After all, life would be so much easier if nerve came in a nice prepackaged can. Brides would stroll down the aisle with nary a worry. Serena Williams would never miss a forehand. And come Monday morning, M.J. would not be sweating her first big one-on-one interview with New York Knicks guard, Jamaal Winston.Sporting Adidas shell tops, hip-hugger jeans, a blue button-down blouse, and a black blazer, M.J. walked through the press room at Madison Square Garden with her Sporting Life magazine credentials. Ah, Madison Square Garden--in M.J.'s mind, there was no question that this was the greatest arena in the world. Every time she set foot in those hallowed halls, it felt like the first time. The great domed ceiling, the seemingly endless tiers of seats, the rafters drenched with championship banners and all the attendant history ... it was a heady feeling that she never tired of.Before she got to the interview, though, she had to hang out in a raucous pressroom filled with smoke and testosterone. Most of the other reporters were twice her age, but they all had one thing in common--they were glaring daggers at M.J.At twenty-six, M.J. was still considered an outsider, a newbie in the world of sports. In an industry dominated by fifty-year-old men, no woman was really taken seriously, and this was even more true for a young Asian-American female."So you'll never guess who I ran into last week!" Ming plopped down next to M.J. on one of the benches. As the Knicks beat writer for the Big Apple Times, Ming practically lived in the Garden."Who?" M.J. asked. "Chow Yun Fat?""Shut up, you dork." Ming laughed. "I saw Susan Huang at my uncle's dinner party last week, and she asked about you.""Susan from our Chinese school classes?" M.J. yelped. "She hated me! She was such a teacher's pet. She even told on me once when she saw me playing Game Boy in class. As punishment, I had to write my name in Chinese on the board a thousand times.""Yup." He nodded. "I mentioned that we see each other at games a lot, and she told me to say hi to you when I saw you at practice."Chinese school was just one of the many parent-induced burdens that M.J. had been subjected to during her childh...

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