I honestly can’t say what made me pick up The Diary or Ma Yan, but I am so glad I did. It really illuminates the differences in culture; what we take for granted here in America is what they dream of. An education, in her small village in China (Zhangjuashu), can very much be the difference between starvation and hope for a happy life. Coming from a peasant upbringing, she sees her parents and grandparents working constantly, back breaking work in the fields. Throughout the diary is her beautiful and sincere wish to succeed in her studies and become someone who can support her family and give them an easier life- a happy life.
She speaks of the hardships of getting to school, her middle school being miles from home. Being a boarder, they have to pay for all food, bringing in rice from the family. There are many times when all she had was rice because she could not afford the vegetables that could be bought to go along side it, and had run out of bread her mother made for the week. There is also talk of the hardships she had to go through to afford her school books and something as simple as a pen. It tears at my heart to think that there are areas where these are concerns, yet this is not the only story like this. She often talks about her Mother in glowing, respectful terms; about how hard she works and worries over her illness.
In 2002 a French newspaper, Liberation, printed an exert of her diary. She touched so many with her words, that many began talking of financing her schooling. Thus, the Association for the Children of Ningxia was founded to help children of families in need continue their schooling. Hundreds of students have been helped by this charity.
This book is out now, go get it!
On the adult content scale, there is nothing. Zero.
Link to book: