A female infant is abandoned by her birth-mother in a small Chinese village and spends her first ten months in an orphanage. She is adopted and raised in the United States where she becomes a social worker in order to help children in a desolate Detroit neighborhood. Her nickname is The Jade Rabbit and this is her story.
As director of a shelter for runaway and neglected youth, Janice Zhu Woodward gets pulled into the lives of the lost children of the Detroit streets. Fueled by angry parents, stories of ghosts who haunt the shelter's basement, and her own history of being left by a birth-mother who may have long forgotten her, Janice emulates her adoptive mother and becomes an avid, nearly obsessed marathoner. Training injuries, failed goals, and unexpected trauma test her will and take her to her breaking point. When a mysterious girl with dreadlocks is abandoned at the shelter's front door, Janice becomes her surrogate mother and risks everything to save her. Only a miraculous, unforgettable run through the streets of Detroit can save them both.
EDITORIAL REVIEW: Rachel Phillips, The Outdoor Athlete, October 11, 2011
Mark Matthews' The Jade Rabbit follows the life of Janice Zhu Woodward as she embarks upon a rigorous marathon-training program. Amidst the pressures and stress of her career as director of a shelter for runaway and neglected youth in Detroit, the psychological, spiritual and physical components of distance running present themselves in vivid detail.
Nicknamed The Jade Rabbit, Woodward relies upon running to give her mental strength, to come to conclusions, process complex problems and, as her adoptive mother describes it: "Running boils all the unnecessary garbage out and just the truths rise to the top." From the beginning to the end of her training runs, the complexities of Janice's career and personal life converge within her mind, becoming manageable problems and enabling her to cope with unforeseen, and often unwelcome, obstacles.
An interest in Detroit and knowledge of the city's history and present-day struggles make this an especially emotionally-charged novel and a must-read for anyone familiar with or curious about the psychological benefits associated with distance running.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.54(d)|
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Jade Rabbit was recommended to me directly from the author, Mark Matthews. We have followed each other on Twitter since winning Little Century by Anna Keesey through a Friday Reads giveaway. My Twitter profile states that I enjoy books with strong female characters so he aptly plugged one of his books. I purchased The Jade Rabbit and met Janice Zhu Woodward. Jan is an interesting lady, struggling with a myriad of related issues. Abandoned at birth in China, she was adopted by an American couple. She counts herself as one of the lucky ones, yet every choice in her life is affected by her abandonment. She is a social worker and director of a shelter for youngsters in need of a safe place from various situations, believing saving "just one" will alleviate her guilt. Her American mother introduced her to marathon running and had passed away prior to page one. Jan isn't the only strong female character in this novel. We also meet Sharleen, a one-time/some-time resident of the shelter. Sharleen's subplot artfully integrates messages of family, strength and acceptance. The Jade Rabbit is rich with beautiful images and intricate writing. Chinese folklore and the harsh realities of various societies are presented in a humanistic way that avoid preachy politics or soapbox guilt. Sociological issues aside, Mr. Matthews weaves an incredible dynamic of family being more than blood relations; our "family" is created by souls connected in love and caring. While the main themes of family, love and acceptance are universal, I found the detailed descriptions of marathon training to be both tedious and intriguing. Those who have experienced the physical and emotional traumas and triumphs of running will connect this aspect of the characters' development at a far deeper level than those of us who only run when chased. Running suits Jan and her fellow non-running characters well, as they all are both running from and to something. The descriptions make me want to lace up my sneakers and see what it's all about while wondering why anyone would find the grueling physical treatment enjoyable. Read this book. Immerse yourself in the lives of these well-defined and inspiring characters. Then take a look at your own life and see where your marathon originates and leads.