My recent trip to China and several good Chinese friends in Melbourne were definitely the reasons I picked this gem by Xinran. After being a famous Radio personality for about 12 years, Xinran left China to be a British resident in 1997. She has been an advocate of Women’s issues and has authored several books giving great insights into China, it’s people and the culture!
The full title of the book is ‘Buy Me the Sky: The Remarkable truth of China’s one-child generations”. It absolutely justifies the title through the stories from 9 only-children and tells you the impact of one child policy on the children, their behaviour, and the family dynamics. Xinran has known all these 9 people personally for quite a long time and has helped most of them adjust and adapt (and sometimes survive) to the outside world.
All of us know how the policy helped control the population by about 400 million but very few people know about the cost the nation, especially the children from these generations have paid psychologically and emotionally! Most of them struggled to survive in the outside world, and some were left scarred for life! The unrestrained over-indulgence ended up limiting the children’s ability to reach out for life and curtailed their interest in natural society around them! It was heartbreaking to read that some of these children had spent their entire childhood JUST going to school, eating and doing homework! With no siblings to share the parental love with, home became a prison for these children, and their parents bars!
The parents wanted to protect them from every issue they experienced in their own childhood! The overprotection and the pressing need to correct every move of their only child made the children directionless and unfit for society! With no basic life skills, they were like birds with wings but din’t know how to fly!! In her own words “Within their families, they are revered as ‘little emperors’ and ‘suns’, although such cosseting can come at a high price: isolation, confusion and an inability to deal with life’s challenges.”
In one of the stories, a girl did not talk to her parents for few years as she hated them for not showing her the ways the world operates. She made a resolution to prove herself before she contacted them again! In another story, the child didn’t want to share the hardships with the parents as it would break them! China’s only children were also only divided by class, power and money. While those from affluent families were under constant pressure to rise up to their parents’ expectations (more because they were the only child!!!), those from the bottom of the society had miserable fate and no one to share the burden! I would just like to add that these 9 stories, though being real stories, do not tell you everything about the subject and definitely do not cover all perspectives! They still form a small and important part of a bigger story!
To every child who story is shared, Xinran talked about Yao Jiaxin’s homicide case and shared their views (It’s interesting..the case as well the thoughts shared !!). It was an amazing eye-opening read which gives a sneak peek into the Chinese society and better understand the world we live in! China is a fascinating country and impacts the world dynamics in a lot of ways! I could relate to a lot of things because I have closely known few Chinese peeps! I would definitely recommend this one for more than one reasons! Not to mention, I have got few more books on China lined up for reading!