A Girl Named Faithful Plum by Richard Bernstein
The True Story of a Dancer from China and How She Achieved Her Dream

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In 1977, when Zhongmei Lei was eleven years old, she learned that the prestigious Beijing Dance Academy was having open auditions. She'd already taken dance lessons, but everyone said a poor country girl would never get into the academy, especially without any connections in the Communist Party of the 1970s. But Zhongmei, whose name means Faithful Plum, persisted, even going on a hunger strike, until her parents agreed to allow her to go. She traveled for three   days and two nights to get to Beijing and eventually beat out 60,000 other girls for one of 12 coveted spots. But getting in was easy compared to staying in, as Zhongmei soon learned. Without those all-important connections she was just a little girl on her own, far away from family. But her determination, talent, and sheer force of will were not something the teachers or other students expected, and soon it was apparent that Zhongmei was not to be underestimated.

Zhongmei became a famous dancer, and founded her own dance company, which made its New York debut when she was in just her late 20s.  In A Girl Named Faithful Plum, her husband and renowned journalist, Richard Bernstein, has written a fascinating account of one girl's struggle to go from the remote farmlands of China to the world's stages, and the lengths she went to in order to follow her dream.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Richard Bernstein

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In twenty years with The New York Times, Richard Bernstein has served as bureau chief at the United Nations and in Paris, as national cultural reporter, and currently as a daily book critic. Before that, he was the Beijing bureau chief for Time magazine. He has written five books, including The Coming Conflict with China (with Ross H. Munro) and, most recently, Ultimate Journey: Retracing the Path of an Ancient Buddhist Monk Who Crossed Asia in Search of Enlightenment. He lives in New York City.Howell Raines is executive editor of The New York Times.
Published September 13, 2011 by Knopf Books for Young Readers. 290 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Travel, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for A Girl Named Faithful Plum

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Faithful Plum, or Zhongmei, lives in a remote area of China near Siberia.

Sep 01 2011 | Read Full Review of A Girl Named Faithful Plum: T...

The New York Times

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Zhongmei eventually prevails through sheer will, but we never quite grasp the emotional reasons that Zhongmei feels she must pursue a dance career.

Dec 16 2011 | Read Full Review of A Girl Named Faithful Plum: T...

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