This is a beautiful novel about a head-strong Chinese woman trying to make it in USA against all odds. Written in an easy, original voice, by Vanessa Hua, this story will captivate your heart and imagination.
When Boss Yeung first told her about Perfume Bay, she’d tossed the brochure onto the dashboard and reached for a slice of dried mango. Shaking his head, he took the bag, but before he could stop her, she snatched a slice of chewy sweetness. During her pregnancy, he’d begun scrutinizing her, prescribing advice—some backed by science but most by superstition—to protect the baby. She shouldn’t eat mangoes, as their heat would give the baby bad skin; no watermelon, whose chill would cool her womb; no bananas, which would cause the baby to slip out early. No water chestnuts, mung beans, or bean sprouts, either. The list of traditional prohibitions grew each time she attempted to eat.
As he drifted into the next lane, she told him to keep his eyes on the road. He gripped the steering wheel and told her his plan: he wanted to send her and their unborn child halfway around the world to Perfume Bay, five-star accommodations located outside of Los Angeles. After she delivered, staff would file for a Social Security card, birth certificate, and passport for the baby. Their son—his sex recently confirmed—would give them a foothold in America.
“Eventually he could sponsor our green cards,” Scarlett had responded. “For now, you’ll get rid of me. Clever plan, Boss Yeung.”
At the factory, she called him Boss Yeung, and she kept it up in private, too, a reminder that she was a deputy manager, and not a xiaojie—a mistress, a gold digger from a disco or a hostess bar. They passed factories covered in grimy white tile, built on land that had been fields when she arrived here as a teenager. People from around the country had moved to the Pearl River Delta, just across the border from Hong Kong, to make their fortunes, and the factory girl you snubbed might someday become your manager.
Boss Yeung reached into the glove box for a brand-new U.S. atlas that he must have hand-carried from Hong Kong. Hope unfurled in her chest. She always navigated on their weekend drives, and with this gift, she pictured them traveling across America together.
“Whatever hospital you’d deliver in would be top-class,” he said.
“The hospitals are good in Hong Kong, too,” she said. Unlike in China, the government wouldn’t hassle her there for being an unwed mother, wouldn’t fine her or force her to terminate her pregnancy. Women there could have as many children as they wanted.
Boss Yeung frowned. Hong Kong was also home to his wife and three daughters.
“It doesn’t matter how good the hospitals are in America, if I end up in jail,” she said.