China Run : A Novel Review

China Run : A Novel
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China Run : A Novel ReviewWhen I first received the book, I opened it and read the prologue and wept. The story of a woman's suffering through pregnancies and abortions and difficult choices presented by a one-child policy and family pressures has more than a ring of truth to it.
Fortunately, that is where the truth ends.
Yes, this book is 'fiction' but the wording on the fly leaf indicating it is based upon a 'true' incident will mislead people into thinking there is more truth here than fiction and that is NOT the case.
The 'true' part of the story is that international adoption from China used to be run by more than one governmental agency, and in the late mid-1990's this process was changed in order to tighten controls and eliminate irregularities in processing of applications. There had never been even any hint of baby selling or organ-farming, and the implication that there may have been, while titillating, is a creation of the author's imagination.
During the transition period of the re-org, there were families who had been 'matched' and notified of their referrals, only to have their referrals changed later on - most prior to leaving for China. At the end of the re-organization, CCAA became the sole governmental arbiter of all things related to adoption in China. The China program of international adoption is a well-run program, resulting in the placement of approximately 6000 children into loving homes around the world each year.
So the 'true incident' mentioned on the book cover in no way resembles the story as written. In fact, the incident in the book never took place. The author's story is an extrapolation of the re-org into a HUGE 'what if' scenario.
And, as far as that goes, that is fine - because this is, afterall, a fiction novel.
However, the book does make interesting reading, and it is unfortunate that the fly leaf does not provide more details about the 'true incident' because the statement that it is 'based upon a true incident' misleads readers into thinking that the story is more true than it is. And, as we know that many people only think as far as the end of their nose about these things, it presents a very wrong, and therefore potentially VERY harmful, impression about China, Chinese government officials, the adoption process and adopting parents.
What makes the situation even more maddening for those of us who have gone through the process or are in the midst of the process, is that the author is also the Dad of a daughter adopted from China. This not only makes some of us feel betrayed, but also angry, as it lends a level of veracity to the fictional story that is neither warranted nor wanted.
All that being said, you will easily get caught up in the action and emotional turmoil of the adopting parents, especially the protagonist - an adopting mom who has been told she must give back her daughter, and runs, with her 9 year old stepson in tow, for their lives.
Mr. Ball's writing about the Chinese countryside and daily life is on the mark, and very well done. Having been there/done that twice now (I am Mom to 2 daughters from China), I was easily transported back through the images described in his writing. I could 'see' things, 'feel' things, even 'smell' the markets and cooking scents. The book is rich with images that evoke a strong sense of place, and add much to the story.
As a work of fiction, I have found myself recommending the book highly -- much to my surprise.China Run : A Novel Overview

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