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A gibbering book review

Finn左脚的袜子

The reason why I picked up this book is kind of related to a New Yorker article I read last summer. It was about those paperless mothers under the realm of their newly-elected (while dramatically?) president. I’ve never had any immigration-related experience; I’ve only stayed in the States for one year as an exchange student, I spoke “not-that-fluent” English with Chinese accent and I wrote in English without even trying to pretend to be native. During my year of stay in New York, I’ve never stopped labelling myself as a foreigner. But every time I come across the reading whose topic is about the deportation of those illegal immigrants, I can’t help but placing myself in their shoes: what if I were the woman that got deported, what if I were the children that was left behind.

On a day that was too normal for anyone to mind the date, Polly left Bro...

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The reason why I picked up this book is kind of related to a New Yorker article I read last summer. It was about those paperless mothers under the realm of their newly-elected (while dramatically?) president. I’ve never had any immigration-related experience; I’ve only stayed in the States for one year as an exchange student, I spoke “not-that-fluent” English with Chinese accent and I wrote in English without even trying to pretend to be native. During my year of stay in New York, I’ve never stopped labelling myself as a foreigner. But every time I come across the reading whose topic is about the deportation of those illegal immigrants, I can’t help but placing myself in their shoes: what if I were the woman that got deported, what if I were the children that was left behind.

On a day that was too normal for anyone to mind the date, Polly left Bronx for work, as usual, and never came back. Few months later, her son Deming left involuntarily as an orphan and got adopted by a rather traditional American family, renamed as Daniel. There are something broken in both the son and the mother and they kept leaving for somewhere else to look for the traces of their respective doppelgänger, or just stay numb to everything around and pretend amnesia.

There are a lot of “what-ifs” in the novel, the “what-ifs” with regret, with despair and with shaky hope. What if Peilan never thought of going to the States for a better life. What if Peilan chose to ditch infant Deming at the very beginning. What if Peilan remained Peilan, instead of Polly. What if Polly never left and Deming didn’t have to turn Daniel. No matter how everything would go under the “what-if” circumstances, nothing actually happened. The broken expectation, combined with those suffocating truths, made both the mother and son trapped between solitary present and sorrow past.

It’s a heart-breaking book, full of solitude, remorse and self-denial. It’s also a heart-warming book — it’s always about reunion, forgiveness and assurance. In the end, both the mother and the son accepted their torn-apart identities; Their identities in the States and in China still existed, but they were no longer those doppelgängers, that belonged to nowhere. Though it sounds cliché, love was, is and will be invincible.

It was a funny thing, forgiveness. You could spend years being angry with someone and then realize you no longer felt the same, that your usual mode of thinking had slipped away when you weren’t noticing. He could see that in the past few months, his fear of being unwanted had dissipated. Because Mama—and Kay, and Peter—were trying to convince him that they were deserving of his love, not the other way around.
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