Review of How Sweet the Bitter Soup: A Memoir by Lori Qian

A young American woman from a struggling family in Chicago goes to China to teach, as a way of earning money. A young Chinese man from a poor rural village in central China goes to a thriving city to look for a good job. She hires him to work at her school, and an unexpected romance begins.

They face harrowing tests to their marriage plans: a frightening diagnosis and a grueling treatment. Obstructive, inept, and uncaring Chinese officials make it hard to get a marriage certificate. Even more dismissive, suspicious, and uncaring American consular officials try to prevent them from going to Chicago for a Christmas visit to meet her family. Reading about the young couple powering through barriers, I found myself gasping, cringing, and rejoicing.

I could relate to this story because I too was a young American woman who fell in love and married a Chinese man, about ten years earlier. We faced a different set of obstacles, but they seemed equally insoluble. One thing I learned: my husband seemed more precious to me because of the difficulty of overcoming those obstacles. Lori Qian did, too. After the bitter, the sweet tastes even sweeter.

You can find out more about Lori and her book on her website

 

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