Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Heart for Freedom

Title:  A Heart for Freedom
Author:  Chai Ling
Pages:  329
Year:  2011
Publisher:  Tyndale
Note:  I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.  Follow my other reviews at  and on twitter @lcjohnson1988
                This is a story that took a long time to reach the publisher—more than 20 years.  It is the true story of real life events from one of the student leaders of the Tiananmen Square uprising.  She has a longing for a free China and democracy for men and women.  The author tells her story from some of her earliest memories as a child up to her present day life.  This is not fiction, and the events told are sometimes painful to read.
                The narrative begins with our main character and author, Chai Ling, as a little girl in rural China living with her family.  Her parents must travel a lot as they are in the military and trained as doctors.  Grandma is brought to live with them to take care of the three children.  Grandma, however, can’t take care of three small children so they send Chai Ling to live with a foster family on a farm at the age of five.  They pay the farmer a bag of grain to take care of her.  She is so homesick the farmer returns her to her home.  Her father is angry at her for not being able to handle the separation and the fact that she cost him a bag of grain.  She has brought shame to her family.  This sets the tone for the relationship between father and daughter.
                As Chai Ling gets to be around 10-12, she is in charge of taking care of her younger brother and sister along with her grandma.  She enters high school and begins to get recognition for her academic performance.  Now, her father is proud of her temporarily.  He is proud of what she has done, but not of whom she is.  The atmosphere in the house though is repressive and Chai longs to be free.  She studies hard so she can skip the last year of high school and go away to college in Beijing.  At college, she thinks she will be free.  Once at college though she exchanges the low opinion of her father for a string of men with similar viewpoints.  Most think it their right to abuse her physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Chai Ling longs for freedom and love.  Instead, she experiences more personal hardship through forced abortions, being accused as a thief, and finally running for her life as a leader of the students protesting at Tiananmen Square.
                She escapes to the United States through a long series of constant moves and great physical hardship.  She attends Princeton and Harvard.  She is able to bring her sister, brother-in-law, and brother to America from China.  She longs to bring her father, but doesn’t have enough money.  She meets an American man she falls in love with.  He is a Christian, and she at that point is a Buddhist.  She agrees to learn more about God, but makes no further commitment than that.  She begins her own business and becomes successful.
                Throughout her life, she has been searching for freedom and love.  She loves her father, but doesn’t find true love or acceptance from him.  Through her various other relationships, she is searching for that elusive love and freedom.  She has a place in her heart that she can’t seem to fill.  Finally, she is shown the love of Jesus and is willing to open her mind to know more.  She comes to realize that only God can fill that place in her heart.  She accepts Jesus as her Savior and the healing and forgiveness He offers.  She still has a heart for China, especially woman, who have aborted their children, either willingly or unwillingly.  She knows the guilt, heartache and anger that can accompany this.  She realizes only God can save China and firmly believes that he will.  Her years of searching led her to Christ.  Are you searching to fill a void in your heart?  Are you willing to hear about Jesus and open your mind and heart?
My rating for this book is three stars.

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