Since I was still very young in 1989 I was not aware of the events that occurred at Tiananmen Square in early June. As I grew up I don't remember learning much about what happened but was aware there was a massacre and the military or government had killed their own citizens.
What an eye-opener "A Heart for Freedom" has been for me! Chai Ling was one of the main leaders of the students who organized and lead the movement that ended in disaster. She shares her story beautifully growing up in China, loving her country but she also knew the disappointment from her father that she was not a son. Chai Ling does well to explain the culture of the time with the changes that had been happening since Chairman Mao came to power. After excelling in school she finally realized the generational family dream of a child going to Beijing.
During her time in school Chai Ling works hard and does well. Soon she has acquired a boyfriend that to Americans is the equivalent of a fiancee. She shares in the struggles of the relationship and what happens to unmarried women when they become pregnant. After that relationship dissolves she meets and becomes involved with the fascinating and passionate man who would become her husband.
After graduation and (illegal) marriage, she and her husband Feng Congde become actively involved in the student movement after the death of a political leader. There were multiple marches and gatherings, including a hunger strike. The students wanted their leaders to hear them and have open talks for a better and freer China. That did not happen. Eventually it all lead up to unthinkable, what we know as the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
Readers are then taken through her escape from the country she still loves as a fugitive. She ends up in France and eventually goes to school in the United States. She shares how, for awhile, she was a symbol on the need for more reform in China, how her relationship with Feng ended, the loss of friends, and the difficulty in finding a job since companies did not want to hurt their business relationship with China by hiring one of the country's most wanted. Eventually she finds love again, success in her business, and has a family.
Chai Ling intimately shares the details of how she found God and the changes he has made in her life. She is now the founder of All Girls Allowed, and organization to help the women and girls who suffer from the one-child policy in China. She holds nothing back to share her past and her shame so that others may find the love, healing, and acceptance they need.
I found this book intoxicating! When I started to read it I figured I'd take in a chapter or two and then keep on with my day. Instead I couldn't put the book down and finished all 330+ pages in one day. That's saying something with two small children in the house! Chai Ling gives wonderful details and is completely relatable though I've never encountered most of the situations her life has gone through. It is easy to follow her thought process during the heated situations and really cheer for and want the best outcome for this brave woman. There was a lot of history to learn and I realized there was a lot about China I never knew. I really have nothing but praise for this beautiful book.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255