Paper Daughter by M. Elaine Mar
A Memoir

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Synopsis

When she was five years old, M. Elaine Mar and her mother emigrated from Hong Kong to Denver to join her father in a community more Chinese than American, more hungry than hopeful.

While working with her family in the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant and living in the basement of her aunt's house, Mar quickly masters English and begins to excel in school. But as her home and school life--Chinese tradition and American independence--become two increasingly disparate worlds, Mar tries desperately to navigate between them.

Adolescence and the awakening of her sexuality leave Elaine isolated and confused. She yearns for storebought clothes and falls for a red-haired boy who leads her away from the fretful eyes of her family. In his presence, Elaine is overcome by the strength of her desire--blocking out her family's visions of an arranged marriage in Hong Kong.

From surviving racist harassment in the schooIyard to trying to flip her straight hair like Farrah Fawcett, from hiding her parents' heritage to arriving alone at Harvard University, Mar's story is at once an unforgettable personal journey and an unflinching, brutal look at the realities of the American Dream.

 

About M. Elaine Mar

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Mar writes for Harvard Magazine and The Improper Bostonian.
 
Published June 1, 1999 by Harperflamingo. 292 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Much of her struggle consists in convincing her parents to allow her to do the many everyday activities taken for granted by the average American adolescent, but which seem incomprehensible within traditional Chinese culture—activities ranging from taking German in high school to spending time al...

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Publishers Weekly

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Asked by her third grade teacher to tell the class what it's like being Chinese, Mar stumbled for a moment and answered, Um, I like it, I guess. Her plainly told memoir, which recounts her pas

Aug 02 1999 | Read Full Review of Paper Daughter: A Memoir

Publishers Weekly

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Asked by her third grade teacher to tell the class ""what it's like being Chinese,"" Mar stumbled for a moment and answered, ""Um, I like it, I guess."" Her plainly told memoir, which recounts her passage from life in a crowded Hong Kong tenement to being a Harvard graduate, is the longer answer ...

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Project MUSE

Thanks to the oral histories gathered by editor Benson Tong and his students, Wayne Hung Wong's fifty-page handwritten autobiography became American Paper Son .

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