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... Climbing to the top of the world...
“Are you ready?” Kallyn shouldered a small backpack and popped open her umbrella.
Cece looked up at the Wall. “Yeah, I’m ready.”
Kallyn and Cece steadily made the climb.
The steps became much steeper, and the path narrowed. Higher and higher they climbed, the gap between them and the rest of the students widening. Cece caught her breath and looked up, unable to see where the stairs ended.
“Just think how good you’ll feel when we make it to the top, Cece,” Kallyn said.
Just how good will it feel when I get to the top? Cece thought. By far, this was one of the hardest things she had ever done. If she could climb to the highest point of this section of the Great Wall, she could do anything. Tomorrow’s trip to the orphanage would seem like nothing.
“We’re almost there,” Kallyn said.
Cece looked up again. She could do this. She had to do this.
Finally, Cece was only steps from the last tower. She had just five steps left. Four. . . Her body filled with anticipation. Three . . . two . . .
She took the last step, and relief washed over her. Cece looked all around her. She felt like she was literally on top of the world.
I wish to acknowledge my rockstar agent Jen, my tireless and smarty editor
Karen, and my critique partner Tam, otherwise known as America’s Next Top
Model. A special thanks goes to my big brother William, my Xi’an connection
and resident expert. Oh, yeah. And he’s good looking, too.
Published by the Penguin Group
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Registered Offices: Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Published by Speak, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2008
Copyright © Cynthea Liu, 2009
All rights reserved
CIP DATA IS AVAILABLE.
eISBN : 978-1-101-01989-4
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any
responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.
For my daughter Clara. Live strong.
Application for the Students Across the Seven Seas
Study Abroad Program
Cece and Alison flipped through a pile of jeans at Macy’s. Cece was looking for a pair to replace her worn-out boot-cuts. She needed something new and fresh for her trip to China.
Alison held up a pair. “Size four, right?”
“Perfect,” Cece said, taking the jeans. It was the last item on her list, and the mall would be closed soon. “I’ll try these on and then we’ll be done.”
Cece headed for the fitting rooms with Alison trailing behind. “I can’t believe you’re leaving me tomorrow,” Al said. “How am I going to survive the summer without you?”
Cece walked into an open fitting room and closed the door while Al waited outside. “Beats me.” Cece hung up the jeans and her purse. “I guess you and Eugene Derkle will have to keep each other company.” She grinned, then tugged off her skirt and put on the jeans. She was thrilled to spend a summer without Eugene, her manager at Six Flags. He was the kind of guy you caught picking his nose. Like all the time.
“Don’t remind me,” Alison said. “His knee socks will be the end of me. Are you sure you have to go?”
Cece zipped up the jeans and observed herself in the mirror. Not bad. The slim cut made her look even taller. “Yes, I’m sure. The S.A.S.S. anthropology program is great. I’m really excited about it.” That, and there was no way she was going to suffer another tourist season in Texas, stuffed inside a hot toll booth. She turned and looked over her shoulder to check the rear view. The jeans made her butt look round, perky even. Excellent.
“What about your mother?” Alison’s voice filled with hope. “Is she having second thoughts? Maybe canceled your plane tickets?”
“Ha, you wish.” Cece turned and checked the front again. “But I do think she wants to plant a tracking device under my skin before I go. Do you know how many times she’s told me to be sure to e-mail? To not forget my calling card? Blah, blah, blah. . . ”
Lately, Mom’s smothering problem had gotten worse, as if that was even possible. It wasn’t like Cece was going to be gone forever. It was just one summer, halfway around the globe. No big deal.
“You know why she’s worried, right?” Al’s voice got low. “It’s not like she doesn’t know about your special plans.”
Cece opened the door.
Al was leaning against the wall. “Hey, those jeans look awesome.”
Cece pulled her in and shut the door. “Wait a second. How do you know she knows?”
Al frowned. “Please. Don’t all moms figure out stuff like that? She’s got to have some idea you’re not going to China just to traipse around ancient ruins and study fossils.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Cece's spending the summer in China - the nation of her birth. She was adopted when she was 2 years old. For her, it's more than just coming home; she's out to find her beginnings. While there, she's enrolled in the S.A.S.S. summer program. She's really looking forward to digging up the history of China and learning all that she can. Plus it doesn't hurt that she's caught the eye of the cutest boy in the program. Her roommate is a bit of a flake. Her expectations of China didn't prepare her for reality, but she's still having the time of her life. She's just not sure if she's brave enough to tackle finding out about her past. Will she miss her one chance? I LOVE the S.A.S.S. series, each is written in a different place with a different author. I confess, I look for each new one. This one was awesome - heart wrenching (I did shed some tears). I love the culture shock and the friendships formed. Plus the Wall scene REALLY made me want to do the same thing - great writing!
I really enjoyed Great Call of China. It made me kind of sad though, how Cece didn't know her birth parents and wanted to find them out. If I was her, I'd be acting just about the same way. I'd go to China pretty much just to find my parents. But, even if I saw a big house, with kids as the address of my old house, I wouldn't wimp out after all that way and think that they didn't like me. I would want to know, and get to the bottom of it becasue it would bug me for the rest of my life if I didn't know. And it's not like you can just jump on a plane to China anytime. I think that that would be the only part of the book that I would change. But, still, a good book.
The good and the not so good:
The main story of Cece finding her birth parents was excellent. Cece had to face her fears and by the end of the story she not only appreciated her adopted parents but also she knew the story behind her birth. She was a very believable character and I really enjoyed her search for friends and her family in China.
What I didn't find believable was that she didn't have any jet lag after flying for about 20+ hours from Texas to China. I have hosted many foreign exchange students and my own two girls went to Germany and Ghana and they all needed to sleep for about two days from the jet lag. Cece barely slept and went to class the next morning.
She also didn't have much culture shock. Yes, she described some of the differences in the culture, but she really wasn't shocked about it. I know that when our students go to China they have to be briefed, and many don't make it because of differences between the cultures.
The rest of the story in THE GREAT CALL OF CHINA is great. Cece is a very likable character and the rest of her friends are, too. There are problems that are solved but very realistically.
I would love to read more about Cece and how she adjusts to life in the states after being away. I find that re-entry into our own culture is the more difficult of the experience. My own two had a harder time coming home than going, especially my daughter who went to Ghana. She has been back for over a year and the lessons she learned there are still causing havoc in her life today.
I liked this story a lot, had some problems with it, but still would rate it 4 Stars.