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The Diary of Ma Yan: The Struggles and Hopes of a Chinese Schoolgirl

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  • Posted July 31, 2010

    Very Accurate

    As someone who has taught in rural China, the life Ma Yan describes in her personal diary is very accurate. Not only her daily life of hunger, hard work and living with 4 others in a one-room home but also daily life in school. The long walks to and from school, the lack of food and supplies and most importantly, the incredible pressure Chinese students put on themselves to succeed. School is a completely different animal in China; nothing at all like the candy-coated schools in America (I teach here, too). I plan to use this book in my classroom this year and think it should be required reading for all American students. Ma Yan is a highly motivated and normal young girl from rural China. She has the same dreams of success as American children but must achieve them in an entirely different and sometimes unimaginable way.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2008

    Just Deal with the Truth

    Some may complain that this book is boring, that it is not 'suspenseful'. This is because this is not a Westernized, fantastical novel of the struggle between good and evil. If you are looking for such a book, go read Harry Potter. Ma Yan's diary is a DIARY, a personalized account of the struggles that a Chinese girl must endure in an uneducated, poverty-stricken, patriarchal society where females are second class citizens. Ma Yan's diary is the cold hard truth: life is hard, cold, and nothing like the dreamy, flowery life promised to Western children by Mr. Walt Disney. The dreams that come true in this part of the world come from the hard work and sacrifice of a mother's love, and a little girl's determination to go to school. Appreciate every word in this book, for they were written down with a pen Ma Yan bought with the money she should have used to buy two weeks worth of food. This book is a plea to the world, to rethink how much we all take for granted. While so many American and European children play hooky and try their best to be truant to their first-rate schools, millions of others across the globe have given up all they have just to have a chance at any bit of education they can get.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2007

    The Gritty Hard Truth

    This book is not for the faint of heart. Deceptively slim, this book takes a cold, hard look at what lies beneath the facade of Chinese education, the truth behind those propoganda films of red-scarved children reciting passages in school. Although I disapprove of this title's market as children's literature, it is still a very good book. Some may complain that this book is poorly written, but they do not keep in mind that these are simly the translated words of a poorly educated Chinese girl who WISHES for an education, not a fictionalize account of some hardship written by a Bachelor or Master of Arts graduate who has had years of education to refine his or her writing. I enjoyed reading this book as an insight into the loopholes of the Chinese educational system and the admirable strength that kept a girl, who lacked all the material comforts we take for granted, still hopeful for an education.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2006

    Awe inspiring

    I think this was an awe-inspiring book. I would definitely recommend this to any reader who wants to learn about what it's like outside of the US.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2005

    The Power of One

    'The Diary of Ma Yan' is the personal testament to the power of one child¿s determination and will power despite facing severe financial adversity, daily starvation and darkness of growing up in a small poor village in China. Ma Yan serves as the inspiration for all children worldwide that education and an individual¿s inner strength to succeed despite overwhelming obstacles is the catalyst for change. She truly represents that ¿Knowledge creates power... power results in change.¿ The power of her written words will leave you with tears in your eyes and breathless at times as the magnitude of her perception of life leaves you wondering how could a young child convey such adult concepts. Education is not a right or freedom affording to so many poor children in China but instead it is responsibility and duty for many as it represents their sole opportunity for a better life one day. This book should be mandatory reading for all students worldwide to allow them the chance to understand the true value of education and the cost one has to pay to gain the knowledge. I read the book cover to cover in under two hours as once I started I could not put the book down. I highly recommend the book for all ages. A ten out of ten stars. Tony Salgado

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2012

    BEST BOOK EVER

    This biography is amazing it made me realize what a good life i have and apreciate what i have this young girl couldnt even afford a pen:(

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2007

    Terrible

    This book was soooooo bad!! It was completely boring, and I wouldn't read if I had to choose between life or death. Terrible, just terrible.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2007

    HORRID

    If you love books w/ suspense and a plot, then this is not the book for you. The whole book says exactly the same thing 1) She takes the ten mile walk to school 2) she gets a bad grade 3) she eats rice and no vegetables 4) she goes home This book was a waste of my time and no one who likes suspensful books should read it.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted March 17, 2012

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