Customer Reviews for

A Heart for Freedom: The Remarkable Journey of a Young Dissident, Her Daring Escape, and Her Quest to Free China's Daughters

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Posted October 3, 2011

    Authentic, Relevant and Real

    I was introduced to Chai Ling and ultimately her book through her All Girls Allowed organization. As an adoptive mother of one of the 37 million missing girls from China, I have absorbed China literature virtually non-stop for the past four years. It all began for me when I went on a trip to China in 2007 to work with a shelter housing women who had been trafficked into the sex trade. I heard their personal stories of abandonment and abortion. We were told the average sex worker, most trafficked, in China has had upwards of 20 abortions in a lifetime and the average woman in China has had 7-9. That's average. These women were not only ravaged by the sex trade, but their hearts were ravaged by the forced abortions they have endured in their very short lives.

    Chai Ling's story confirms the story I heard over and over again in 2007. Her account of what happened at Tienanmen is one that needs to be heard. When I was in China, we were told that the average person there doubts Tienanmen ever even happened. The government has done a fantastic job of wiping it off the history books and out of the mind of a nation, thus continuing to silence the voices crying to be heard in the Square. She never sets herself up as a hero, in fact it's quite the opposite. She didn't go seeking her God-given purpose, it found her. And it has found her again through All Girls Allowed.

    I could not put her book down. It was gripping, compelling, stirring, humbling and inspiring. It has challenged me to appreciate my freedom and to fight for the freedom of others. Her account of coming to be a Jesus-follower showed the tender, patient love of a Father God who had never left her and never forsaken her. I admire her immensely for choosing to be authentic and share her struggles with faith and with her abortions. She has brought her darkness into the Light and the Light has illuminated her darkness and we, the readers are the better for it.

    China Momma
    Orlando, Fl

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 17, 2011

    Amazing and Inspiring Book!

    I loved this book so much. It made my heart thump, the beats echoing one word: freedom. In America, we take it for granted everyday. How we express ourselves, where we go to school, how many children we have, where we work, who is in charge of our country, etc.

    -"If I criticize the president," one congressman told me, "the worst that can happen is the White House won't give me a dinner invitation." - Page 233-

    I had never heard of the Tiananmen Square massacre, so this was opening up a whole new world to me. Thousands of college students going on hunger strikes and gathering together to stand up for a right to speak is a truly amazing thing.

    Chai Ling also touched on the topic of abortion. China's law that each couple is only allowed on child has led to many abortions.

    -In both China and India, families eliminate girls in hopes of raising boys. This crime, called gendercide, is done through prenatal sex selection, infanticide, and abandonment. China's one-child policy makes it worse - with only one baby allowed, who wouldn't choose a boy? Girls cannot carry on the family line and will marry and leave when their parents grow old. For security, every family wants a son. Now in China, six boys are born for every five girls. - Page 299-

    I had recently read a blog post about this and it really opened up my eyes. I remembered my mom telling me about China's one-child policy when I was younger, but no one really talks about it and I slowly forgot. Now it is becoming an increasing problem in China with lots of boys and a shortage of girls.

    -The preference for sons and the one-child policy are a lethal combination. Daily, thousands of baby girls are aborted or killed simply because they are girls. With so many girls now "missing" in China, the surplus of thirty-seven million unmarried young men is bound to cause security and economic problems. With a shortage of available mates for all the eligible bachelors, trafficking of little girls and young women is now out of control in China. - Page 300-

    Now, the whole book isn't about abortion but she does devote a good bit to it at the end. The rest of the book records her amazing journey from a small Chinese village to China's most wanted woman.

    I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes from Tyndale House. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 24, 2014

    A Heart for Freedom is an interesting look at Chai Ling's life.

    A Heart for Freedom is an interesting look at Chai Ling's life. She tells about her life in China and her involvement at Tiananmen Square. I admired the author's bravery of coming forward to tell her story. 
    4 stars.

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  • Posted August 27, 2013

    This was an incredible book! I found the book inspiring, humblin

    This was an incredible book! I found the book inspiring, humbling and startling. We should all fight for our freedom as well as those who do not have freedom. Chai shares her life story from a small village to a wanted woman. She believes in Jesus and shares with us that Jesus will never leave us or forsake us even during the hard times.
    We all take our freedom for granted and don't realize what we have till it is taken away. I vividly remember Tienanmen Square and the protests and hunger strikes. Chai Ling did an incredible job describing what it was like to be a student leader during the protests.
    Chai also touched on the subject of abortion. China's law only allows one child per family resulting in many abortions. I found it sad that she had four abortions and that her father took her for the first one.

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  • Posted August 9, 2013

    This is a very interesting book that I enjoyed very much from a

    This is a very interesting book that I enjoyed very much from a historical standpoint. I remember watching the news when the students were protesting in Tiananmen Square and seeing the iconic image of the young man in front of those tanks. It was so interesting to read about what was happening from the viewpoint of someone that was there. I also thought the background information about China's history was interesting and I learned a lot. China's one child policy is well-known, but I didn't realize that in the past couples were encouraged to have a lot of children.

    I found Ling's honesty about her past refreshing and inspiring. It was so sad to read about her four abortions, and especially that her father took her to have her first one. It was very sad to read about the other young women that are forced to have abortions. I think even more disturbing is that fact Ling didn't seem to realize what she had done until after she came to America and saw a movie about babies in utero. It brought home the fact that she killed her babies, not just eliminated tissue. She was upset during her first abortion, but not so much grieving the death of her child. However, through God's grace and mercy and faith in Jesus, she founded All Girls Allowed and shared her story, which has helped her heal.

    This is a very interesting read that many people would enjoy. If you enjoy reading about history or life in foreign countries, you will probably enjoy this book. Ling does a great job describing events in a way that make them real to readers. What a great story!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2013

    Couldn't put it down!

    What a journey, couldn't put this book down.

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  • Posted July 13, 2013

    If you are looking for some good summer reading, allow me to rec

    If you are looking for some good summer reading, allow me to recommend A Heart for Freedom by Chai Ling.  It's quite a good book.  She was one of the student leaders during the Tiananmen Square Massacre back in 1989.  I was really clueless about that whole thing until I read this book.  I am not quite finished with it yet (have a couple chapters left), but I have really enjoyed it.  The purpose of the protest by the students was to try and bring about a little democracy.  It was never meant to turn violent and certainly wasn't intended to bring about the massacre that it did.  The students didn't fight back as they left the Square, but the tanks rolled over them anyway.  It tells her story of coming to America, becoming a Christian and then founding an organization to put a stop to the One-child policy and the gendercide prevalent in China and even India and other countries.  It was very eye-opening and very interesting and easy to read.  

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  • Posted July 12, 2013

    Read as part of the Tyndale House Summer Reading program and I l

    Read as part of the Tyndale House Summer Reading program and I liked it. This is not something I would typically pickup on my own but it was a good read and I recommend it.

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  • Posted July 6, 2013

    This is the true story of Chai Ling, who was a leader of the pro

    This is the true story of Chai Ling, who was a leader of the protesters at Tiananmen Square in China. She tells her story from her childhood to the present, focusing on the Tiananmen Square events in 1989.

    I found this to be a good book. The author's story is interesting and I liked the photos as well.

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  • Posted June 26, 2013

    Quietly Compelling This book is outside of my usual genre, and

    Quietly Compelling

    This book is outside of my usual genre, and I expected to feel like I *had* to make it through the book. This was not the case at all. Ling quietly tells the story of her life. She doesn't do it to victimize herself. She doesn't do it to proclaim her greatness. Instead she quietly brings you through her story which is filled with strong emotions step-by-step. You don't even realize the journey most of the time.

    Sometimes, the story was too much to handle at once and I had to walk away for a time, but I needed to know more, just like she needed to share.

    I have never been familiar with Tienanmen Square. Sure, I knew about it, and that it was awful, but I didn't understand it. This book was really an insightful look into Chinese politics and culture. Something most Americans know precious little about.

    Ling never yells at the reader, though she recounts many conflicts, yet her story is compelling. Many times along the path you ask "why" or "how", and she is upfront in telling you when she doesn't have the answer. But if she can provide an answer she does.

    Her transformation from a bitter, scared, scarred student to a gracious, forgiving, freed woman is a journey of hope and inspiration for everyone. And through her story, we also carry a hope for China.

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  • Posted June 8, 2013

    This is About Courage, Tragedy, Freedom, Faith, and Hope. This

    This is About Courage, Tragedy, Freedom, Faith, and Hope. This is beautifully written. I became engrossed in her powerful story. I don't think I`ll ever comprehend the Chinese culture and the way they think, but Chai Ling`s story gave me more compassion for Chinese women and their heartaches. I felt that she made history very personal. Her description of events made me feel as if I was there. I was touched and inspired by her experiences with forgiveness, faith, and rejuvenation. I understand her struggles with abusive, manipulative men (a bad first marriage), and I understand and am deeply grateful for an all-loving, all-forgiving God. I commend Chai Ling for raising awareness about the Tiananmen Square events, and the plight of Chinese women.

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  • Posted June 7, 2013

    An unflinchingly honest portrayal of situations that still have

    An unflinchingly honest portrayal of situations that still have worldwide impact, Chai Ling seems to hold nothing back as she tells the story of her life.  Raised in a culture where the value of a girl is quite low, and education and loyalty to country (i.e. government) is everything - she had a mind of her own and the courage to speak out.  She rose to leadership in the movement towards democracy in China, becoming the "commander" at the Defend Tiananmen Square Headquarters, and after the massacre living (barely) on the run.  She escaped as a refugee to the United States where she worked very hard to move away from her past and into a preferable future.  She soon discovers that knowledge, passion, and hard work are not enough for her until she finally finds healing from the pain of her past by discovering and accepting God's grace and forgiveness.




    What an interesting, moving, and powerful story.  Chai Ling has lived an incredible life to be sure - and I am grateful she chose to share her story with the world.  This book is a must read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2013

    I found the book compelling, but sometimes was irritated by the

    I found the book compelling, but sometimes was irritated by the author's choices and the way she described her motivation for these choices. Obviously, however, I have no idea what growing up in her culture was like. I appreciated her willingness to share her story and am amazed at how God continually pours out his grace on individuals. The stories of the many abortions in China made me very sad.

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  • Posted July 22, 2012

    This book was exceptionally written. It captivated me so much t

    This book was exceptionally written. It captivated me so much that I read it all in one sitting on a road trip. Chai Ling has been through so much, but she has used it to help others and I am amazed at her strength and her compassionate heart. Wonderful book, I would read it again in a heartbeat!

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  • Posted July 10, 2012

    Fascinating Account of Tiananmen Square Demonstrations

    Chai Ling was the leader of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations in 1989. Her book tells the story of how she came to be involved in the demonstrations, what it was like living in the square, and the aftermath which changed her life.

    Part memoir, part analysis of China's history and modern politics, this book held me riveted.

    I highly recommend this book, especially for those interested in modern China.

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  • Posted October 18, 2011

    Highly Recommended! You won't want to miss this one.

    After reading such a transparent heart for her homeland to see the grace, mercy and salvation of Christ, I am once again reminded that we, as a nation, are not overwhelmed. We are just underburdened.

    Too many times we are caught up in our own worlds, facing our own little things. Thank you, Ling, for speaking truth and light into a darkened world around us.

    Lori Mangus

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  • Posted October 15, 2011

    Book Review: A Passionate Memoir

    I am very grateful for the complimentary copy of A Heart for Freedom by Chai Ling from Tyndale Publishers. I was eagerly awaiting this book's arrival. The content seemed different, interesting and waiting to be read. A Heart for Freedom exceeded my expectations tenfold. The reader is immediately drawn into Ling's story and captured by her innocence. Her account is marked by passion, grief, love, hope and triumph- all key ingredients of a memorable story.

    Chai Ling was brought up in an oppressive, stifling culture that was hinged upon tradition and familial devotion. Early on she realized the one way for her to obtain her father's love and favor was through scholastic merit and achievement. As Ling continued to strive for love and found herself as a young college student at prestigious Beida University in Beijing, far from home, she found her calling as a voice for change and hope for the people of her homeland.

    There she discovered she could make a difference by standing firm for what she felt was right. Even as a young girl she wasn't easily persuaded to join the Party as her Communist parents had. Seeking reform in government, a group of dissident students asked for dialogue with government officials. Eventually, they received far more than they bargained for.

    Thousands of lives were lost in Beijing around Tiananmen Square in the Spring of 1989. Chai Ling as one of the leaders of the growing movement had to hide for months among strangers before seeking refuge in America. Now, 22 years later, Ling is a wife, mother, entrepreneur and now a philanthropist. As she has found healing in Christ, Ling is now trying to help extend Christ's love to her beloved China and bring awareness to oppression of China's one-child policy and the female's inherent value to society through her non-profit organization.

    A Heart for Freedom reached deep recesses of my heart and soul, leaving me to wonder what do I do with all of what Ling shared? To hear of the harsh realities of forced abortion, inhumane treatment of life and the deceptive lies that the Chinese people are inundated with is astounding and incomprehensible.

    Ling's love for her people, the passion and hope she tenaciously clings to and her honesty are beautiful and enough to change the lives of many readers. I only hope that I am among them. For her to live in and endure an oppressive culture is hard enough, but to stand up in the face of the opposition is monumental. A Heart for Freedom is Chai Ling's gift to us, the beauty in the ashes.

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  • Posted October 9, 2011

    highly recommended

    This is indeed an excellent book. I was fortunate enough to get access to an early copy and read it cover to cover. I remember very well seeing the students in Tienanmen square on television, following the news day by day and then watching in horror as the tanks rolled in. This book was a wonderful opportunity to relive that important piece of history from the inside and get the perspective of someone who played a key role. Ling's life is amazing. From a brilliant child who carried the hopes of her family but also an unquenchable desire for independence mixed with idealism. The book chronicles the many twists and turns that brought her into leadership in Tienanmen square and then to an enemy of the state. Through it some friends turned out to be enemies and friends materialized in unlikely places. Ultimately, she escaped to the United States and her drive and talent took her through Harvard Business School and on to found a successful company. Her desire to have an impact in China burns as bright as ever and she now heads an organization to aid the girls caught in the vise of the one child policy called "All Girls Allowed". This is a book well worth reading and thinking about.

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  • Posted October 6, 2011

    Unbelievably moving story

    God is the only true Hero and it's obvious in Ling's moving story. In midst of her struggles and tragedies, Ling's hope for freedom never dies but is realized in Jesus - the source of true freedom. Her courage is seen powerfully in not only as a student leader at Tiananmen Square but in telling us the truth of her experiencing rejection, betrayal and abortions. Sometimes, great visions are born out of personal tragedies and Ling's calling to save other women in China, having endured multiple forced abortions is simply remarkable. Ling's story is compelling, heart-warming and beautiful - a story that God will use to transform many lives. Ling's story will continue to be written past the pages of her book and that undoubtedly, will continue to reveal that God is the only true Hero!

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  • Posted October 5, 2011

    Amazing Grace

    "A Heart for Freedom" is a soul-awakening, life-changing and spirit-uplifting book. Chai Ling's story is a story of God's redemption and healing. Chai Ling's life journey has painted an picture of Christ's Amazing Grace.

    Ling said a prayer asking God to make her an extraordinary child when she was just a little over ten (page 19). Not only God answered her prayer by making her an outstanding student, He has also made her a beautiful passionate woman of God and a faithful courageous follower of Christ.

    Shortly after Ling escaped to a new free world, she found herself lost and started to look for freedom in her heart - freedom from her past. For 19 years Ling was searching for this true freedom and at last she has found it. Ling's book brings the true Light and eternal Hope to millions of Chinese women, to the nation of China.

    This book reveals the pain and suffering of Chinese people from a rare first narrative perspective. Reading this book is like reading the tears and struggles of Chai Ling, her family and other realistic characters. Once you pick up this book, it will be hard to put it down. You will be sitting on the edge of your seat as each chapter unfolds. Your heart will ache for China, and your spirit will weep for these hopeless and helpless Chinese men and women. If you have been searching for the eternal significance behind 1989 Beijing Tian'anmen movement, this book will bring you to a higher ground.

    Ling is one of the most faithful and courageous Chinese Christian women I have ever known. I have no doubt that God has a divine plan for her survival and journey to Christ, which is to proclaim the salvation and freedom to many who are at "the end of the earth".

    I highly recommend this book to all women - Chinese and American, or women of other nationalities, who either has a past abortion, or knows a friend who does. The true freedom and healing Chai Ling has found is also available to all in Jesus Christ.

    EVERYONE who loves Chinese people, who prays for China, who cares about the lost souls in China, who has Chinese friends or relatives, should read Chai Ling's book "A Heart for Freedom".

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