Monday, June 30, 2014

Away from China - by Roberto G. Ferrari -- Book Review

On the 20th of May I won!
A book!

I won Away from China on a GoodReads giveaway. Since I don't like to do things in equilibrium, when I found the option to enter giveaways on the said site, I entered many (I mean, many!) giveaways. When you act like that, it's impossible to not be surprised when you win. So I was surprised when I won, although it was the first book I entered to win. Coincidence?

The book is one man's story of adopting their second child, a Chinese boy, Yong. The author gives some background information about himself and his family, but he dives into the story quickly. He confesses that adoption is not a normal and usual thing done by Italians (I didn't know that) and we later find out that a second international adoption is a very rare thing in Italy (of course, I didn't know that either). 

This is a fairly easy read, especially because of its style. Simple language, short sentences are predominant especially in the beginning, but as the book progresses they are more expanded and add a fluency to the book. From the very beginning it felt like I was reading someone's journal, and this is probably exactly as it was written. The author mentions that he used an iPad to record his thoughts and feelings about the whole experience. This, I think, brought an even greater layer of authenticity. Speaking of which. This man is sure honest about the whole thing. So honest and open that a few times I had to ask myself if these were best left out. But in retrospective, this is what makes the book so enjoyable. His relationship with his wife and daughter, and then with Yong, his daughter's reactions and behaviour during their  stay in China, his bonding (not struggle-free!) with Yong... all these were openly shared. It's interesting and useful to see how he tries to find the right way to treat Yong, how to make the child trust him, but also obey him and his wife, Laura. Probably one of my favourite parts was when he had a "turning point", as he call it, when he understood that it was him, not Yong, that was the problem in their deficient bonding. This is such a fascinating thought, as he mentioned a few times that it rarely seemed to be a linguistic barrier; Yong seemed able to understand what they communicated to him and could even answer some of their answers with "yes" and "no".
This book is really helpful for those considering an international adoption, whether it is from China or another country, as it offers insight into some worrisome aspects of adoption.

There are also pretty lengthy passages of Chinese historical facts. He is obviously interested in these details, as he should be, but for someone who's less keen on this aspect, it's a part that can be skipped since it doesn't harm the understanding of the "story". In all these mini lectures on Chinese history and touristic guide-like information, I never once got the feeling of superiority towards the Eastern lifestyle and mentality. Not once did I get the feeling he's a superior Westerner. Speaking of which, there is a great passage on this on pages 68-69.

What I found to be a little annoying were the commas and the grammar mistakes. In the beginning it was more annoying, but as you get swept into the retelling of the events you can overlook them, although you have to re-read a sentence to understand it; it's the misplaced comma's fault. ;))

All in all, it was an enjoyable read, as the author wrote in his autographed dedication.


  1. Lucky duck, I never win anything and I've entered a ton of those Goodreads giveaways, lol! This sounds like a really interesting book, especially considering the informal style it was written in. Makes it feel more authentic, I would guess. Thanks for the review! :)

    Ambelleina on S-B

    1. Haha, now I keep checking my email and GoodReads giveaway page like a maniac, hoping to win something again.

  2. Great review! I'll have to check this out :)

  3. It sounds like an interesting book. I'll have to check it out. I love feeling like a voyeur and looking at other people's lives. Thanks for the review.

    basykes on S-B

  4. ive never hear of the sweepstakes place. i have enter soooooooo many contests and never won anything. congrats on your win. sounds like a interesting read. might have to go check it out. thanks for the review you have given us.

    Blogspot Blogs

  5. Really nice review. I would like to read it now :D