A young Chinese woman's dream fully comes true- she gets to graduate school in America, bursting with energy. To make money, Saiyue cleans fish in a restaurant, cooks for her landlady and does computer programming for a Chinese-American professor, with whom a mutual attraction develops. She wants to become a permanent resident. How about marrying the professor? But she already has a husband back in China. Is it right to divorce him, because she knows he had an old flame that just wouldn't burn out?
Actually, Saiyue desires more, like experiencing life to the fullest, enjoying all the freedom Americans can offer, including the sexual. Yet, as she grows in life with heightened intellectuality and spirituality, she struggles with her conscience, and so dearly misses her young son in China.
What are her values? With the traditional ones enfeebled by the Cultural Revolution and Communist teachings discredited by China's opening to the West, Saiyue, like many young Chinese of her generation, had to find valueson her own. The author tells the story with spellbinding and spicy details, juxtaposing the old and new cultures- traditional Confucianism, Communist-Socialist ethics, contemporary American mores and the women's movement.
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