Made in China: A Memoir of Love and Labor by Anna Qu

Made in China: A Memoir of Love and Labor

Soon after Anna Qu was born, her father died and her mother immigrated to the United States to pursue the American dream, leaving the infant in the care of her grandmother, Nie Nie, and grandfather, Azi. As far back as Anna could remember, she felt a sense of abandonment and shame—after all, she was a child without a father and with a mother who rejected her.   

Raised on Nie Nie’s vision of America as the land of milk and honey, 7-year-old Anna expected a beautiful life when her mother brought her to live with her in New York. However, Anna became confused and distressed by the family dynamics she encountered—her mother had remarried and had two children with her new spouse, and, now, instead of being warmly welcomed into her family, Anna was the intruding outsider. Her sense of shame and abandonment intensified as she was forced to play the role of family maid, was expected to cater to the whims of her half-siblings, worked in the family’s garment factory (a sweatshop existing on the backs of its employees), experienced physical and verbal abuse, and was deprived of food and emotional care. 

At 15, Anna made the most difficult choice of her life—she asked her school guidance counselor to call the Office of Children and Family Services to alert them to the abuse she was suffering and the unlawful working practices in her family’s sweatshop. Her decision had repercussions for decades to come, causing a rift with her mother that took years to mend.  

After Anna graduated from college and struggled through the loss of her job when the once-promising startup she was part of failed, she began to understand her mother’s struggles and the challenges faced by immigrant parents: “Much later in life, I am able to understand some of the choices my parents made even if I would have made them differently. It was their job to teach us where we came from, and as much as they felt the tug of our culture, the need to set us up for success always won out. They wanted to protect us from becoming too American, but it was only in shedding one’s skin, abandoning China for America, that we could be successful.”   

Riveting, painful, and excruciatingly honest, Made in China is a must-read memoir for anyone who wants to better understand the struggles of immigrant families, the trauma of unlawful working conditions, and the need for all of God’s image bearers to be nurtured, loved, and valued, no matter where they are born or the culture in which they grow up. (Catapult)

About the Author

Sonya VanderVeen Feddema is a freelance writer and a member of Covenant CRC in St. Catharines, Ontario.

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