DOUBLE LUCK: Memoirs of a Chinese Orphan

Chi Fa Lu, Author, Rebecca White, With with Becky White. Holiday $18.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-8234-1560-1

Currently the owner of a restaurant in California, Lu looks back on a life that reflects China's tumultuous recent history, from wars and famine to Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution. Orphaned at three, Chi Fa grows up amid hardships that will be scarcely imaginable to American readers. "Chi Fa, you are lucky. Good fortune will find you," his beloved Sister tells him when, yielding to her husband, she abandons him on another sibling's doorstep. The boy is shunted among his relatives, sold to strangers and eventually rescued from them by Sister; he is beaten, starved and forced to beg. At 12, he survives a dangerous trek to freedom in Hong Kong, where an elderly man to whom he gives food fuels his dreams of emigrating to America ("In America people eat three times a day. In America they are too full to swallow sorrow"), a dream he finally realizes at 20. The first-person narrative is pedestrian and even plodding in parts ("An important thing I forgot to mention is China's class system"), but readers who are not put off by the prose will be impressed by Chi Fa's perseverance, intelligence and goodness of heart. Photos not seen by PW. Ages 10-up. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/07/2001
Release date: 03/01/2000
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