Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Books 43 and 44

Book 43: Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China, by Leslie T. Chang

The premise of this book is one that's definitely been in the news lately - the development of the Chinese economy through the rise in urbanization. Much of the book does focus on that, with Chang profiling various Chinese women who have migrated from rural villages to a large city in order to work in factories. She discusses their means for getting ahead - often lying about credentials or work experience - and how often they change jobs (and the costs associated with doing so - many factory managers will keep an employee's first month-or-two of wages in order to try to get them to stay for six months or a year).

In the middle, however, Chang focuses on her family's own migratory history, from one end of China to another and, ultimately, out of the country. I really could have done without those chapters. While they helped me understand why she wanted to write the book, it didn't really contribute to the themes, as her family didn't go to a city to work in factories and really ended up much  better off than most "factory girls" will.

An interesting book, but not particularly recommended.

Book 44: I'm Looking Through You: Growing Up Haunted (A memoir) by Jennifer Finney Boylan

I've read another book by Boylan (She's Not There), in which she discusses in some degree of detail her transition from man to woman. This book, however, focuses less on the here-and-now, life-changing events and more on the consequences of those changes. Using the "haunted house" she grew up in, Boylan paints herself as haunted, both by the expectations that were placed on her while growing up a boy and by her own past AS said boy.

As with her previous book, I was struck by the frankness with which Boylan is able to write about transgender issues. I enjoyed her writing style and would definitely recommend this book and the other one I've read!

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