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"Like a suspense novel, this book is impossible to put down. All readers interested in China, as well as memoir fans (especially of success stories), must read this astonishing title."--Library Journal (Starred Review)
“In Aisling Juanjuan Shen’s remarkable and assured memoir, a peasant girl born to illiterate parents and bleak prospects rises to prominence as the first person in her village to graduate college. Determined to escape the trappings of rural village life, she leaves the stability of a government-assigned teaching post behind and bravely ventures to the south in search of wealth and happiness. Shen offers a brutally honest and vivid portrait of the early days of China’s economic boom, the fascinating interplay between the provinces, the lives of those who leave and those who remain behind, and the cost of abandoning tradition for the promise of prosperity.”—Felicia C. Sullivan, The Sky Isn’t Visible from Here
“A brave and honest tale of one woman's struggle to overcome her circumstances and triumph against all odds.”—Alison Weaver, Gone to the Crazies: A Memoir
Aisling Juanjuan Shen was born to illiterate peasants in a tiny rice-farming hamlet in China’s Yangtze Delta in 1974. Pronounced useless by her parents because she wasn’t good at planting rice, she became the first person from her village ever to attend college. After graduating from teachers college, she was assigned by the government to a remote and low-paying teaching job that she was expected to hold for the rest of her life. Deeply dissatisfied, she bought her way out of her secure government job and left for the special economic zones of southern China in search of happiness and success in the business world.
A Tiger’s Heart chronicles Aisling's rise from poverty in the rice fields of rural China to a successful career in business in the early days of the country’s economic boom, illustrating the massive economic and social changes that have taken place in China over the past several decades. Her story is emblematic of a new generation of Chinese women who are leaving the rice paddies and government jobs in order to enter the free market and determine the course of their own lives.
Aisling Juanjuan Shen worked as a teacher, saleswoman, and translator in China before immigrating to the United States in 2000. In 2005 she graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College; she currently works for an investment management firm in Boston. Excerpts of A Tiger’s Heart have appeared in Pindeldyboz and H.O.W.
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Aisling Juanjuan Shen immigrated to the United States in 2000. In 2005, she graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College. She currently works for an investment management firm in Boston.From School Library Journal:
Adult/High School—"I can hear the mosquitoes buzzing around my ears and feel the leeches sucking the blood from my calves. I think of planting rice shoots in the paddies with my bare feet deep in the mud. I'm only 33, but I've faced enough for a hundred lifetimes," says Shen, describing her poverty-stricken childhood in rural China. In an effort to move up in life, she got into college, only to find that it was a vocational-type two-year teachers college from which she was placed in a backwoods village school. She soon followed her love to southern China to better her status, moving to increasingly better-paying (but sometimes unethical) jobs using her English, and moving on to other men. She thought she was plain and ordinary, but from others' reactions, readers know she was pretty and smart, and see her using those attributes to take control of her life. Young adults will respond to the authenticity of the author's language and her drive to move away from the primitive village to a modern, luxurious lifestyle in the city. Eventually, she reached the United States, where she graduated with honors from Wellesley College and was offered a job in a prestigious firm in Boston. Shen's spirit, wit, and drive draw readers faster and faster through the pages of this bird's-eye view of China at the brink of modern-day capitalism.—Ellen Bell, Amador Valley High School, Pleasanton, CA
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