Book Review: Throwaway Daughter by Ting-Xing Ye

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: Throwaway Daughter
Author: Ting-Xing Ye
Publisher: Tundra
Publication Date: May 03, 2022
ISBN: 9781774880340

Synopsis:
Throwaway Daughter tells the story of Grace Dong-mei Parker, whose biggest concern is how to distill her adoption from China into the neat blanks of her personal history assignment. Aside from the unwelcome reminders of difference, Grace loves passing for the typical Canadian teen — until the day she witnesses the Tiananmen massacre on the news. Horrified, she sets out to explore her Chinese ancestry, only to discover that she was one of the thousands of infant girls abandoned in China since the introduction of the one-child policy, strictly enforced by the Communist government. But Grace was one of the lucky ones, adopted as a baby by a loving Canadian couple. With the encouragement of her adoptive parents, she studies Chinese and travels back to China in search of her birth mother.

———

Throwaway Daughter is an enlightening story about a young woman abandoned as a baby in China, adopted to a Canadian couple, and raised in a small Canadian town. Though she has little interest in her Chinese heritage growing up, her interest begins to grow by leaps and bounds after she witnesses a broadcast of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. For the first time, her attention is honed in on a country where everyone looks like her, when she spent so much of her life looking different than everyone around her. What ensues is an epic journey of self-discovery as this young woman, Grace Dong-Mei, sets out to learn more about who she is.

What I loved and disliked about this book are one and the same: the multiple perspectives. On the one hand, there are so many pivotal players within these pages. It takes so many different individuals in order for Grace Dong-Mei’s story to play out as it does, and we get to hear from almost all of these players. It’s a unique way of story telling that provides a robust perspective on an utterly life-changing event for so many. We hear from all those key players who surround Grace Dong-Mei, both in Canada and abroad in China.

However, on the other hand, there are so many voices, that the ones that truly deserve to be heard, particularly those of Grace and the other women, are muted. I’d argue that the male voices take more than they have already stolen in this book; they extinguish the space and the air of the women who had no say in how this story played out. Though the male voices provide an interesting POV, I think that time could have been better allotted to Grace’s experience in discovering her heritage and sense of self, to her mother, Jane, who brought home this tiny child to complete her family, and to Chung-Mei who, as a woman in impoverished and rural China, is stripped of her voice again and again.

The story is incredibly well-written and easy to read. Despite the few issues I identifies, I still thoroughly enjoyed it and made it through the bulk of the book in one night. This novel serves as a teaching tool as well, of Chinese history—Tiananmen Massacre, the One Child Policy, Chairman Mao, and rural life and the treatment of women in China, particularly in the late-20th Century.

A novel for young readers, it certainly adds an interesting and pivotal story to the repertoire for YA today. Happy reading!

Published by wornpagesandink

Hi! I'm Jaaron. I'm a book-obsessed blogger, writer, reader, coffee-drinker, and dog-lover. I have a B.A.H. in English Literature and a post-graduate diploma in Book and Magazine publishing. I've been fortunate to have worked in both trade and educational publishing. If you have any recommendations for excellent reads, let me know!

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