An Ocean Apart, a World Away written by Lensey Namioka was such a fascinating demonstration of persuading readers to go on and pursuing your own dreams. It was published in 2002 by Dell Laurel-Leaf, who is an imprint of Random House Children’s books in New York. This book that I had just read was mostly about this one Chinese girl named Xueyan who is also known as Yanyan, or Shelia in her school. During the early 1900s, China was struggling to maintain their unstable democracy. They didn’t worry much about their citizens’ living.They only knew one goal in their mind which is to fight over territories and political titles. At that time, many young women were finding themselves caught between old traditions and new ideas.
Typical Chinese girls at the age of sixteen would most likely be putted into the plans for their marriage. Yet Yanyan was fortunately being born into a family whose father, in this case, was one of the few who believed in education for women. Yanyan wasn’t interested in marriage like other girls would. She has a bigger and brighter vision of her future than just being a housewife in her mind.She was interested in schooling. When Yanyan finished with high school, she wonders what the next stage of her life will bring. Since Yanyan has always with the interest in medical, Yanyan was thinking of finding a way to become a doctor one day.
Yanyan’s bright future was kind of getting blurry and slowed when she finally knew that she has a crush on Liang Boashu, who’s great in martial arts and is a best friend of her eldest brother. Yanyan started to meet him when she went on a journey to Shanghai with her eldest brother and him, to see her best friend, Ailin, for the last time.Ailin wasn’t as lucky as Yanyan. She was forced to be drop out of high school early, since her uncle couldn’t afford to pay for her tuition in school no more.
Ailin had to leave for America and there she must work for a foreign missionary family. After seeing the path of Ailin’s poor life, Yanyan felt like she was very blessed, and at that moment, Yanyan had promised herself that she will seek for any opportunities that will help her to reach toward her goal. While they were on their way back home, they met a man named George Pettigrew, who gave them a card about Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.Yanyan at that moment was very happy. She knew that the opportunity that she had been waiting for now has just arrived. Yet Yanyan was very stuck when she tried to determine whether she should run away with Liang Baoshu and be a part of his dangerous life, or running toward her medicine dream is more important. It was getting harder and harder each day for Yanyan to decide, since her love for Liang Baoshu has been growing so much stronger and stronger each day. Every little details and moments that she was with him made her wanted to keep them forever.
They both fall in love with each other very madly although they had never expressed it to each other. Yanyan finally made up her mind and rejected the offer of running away with Liang Baoshu because Yanyan is a very deep thinker; she would rather giving up her happiness then making other people around her worry for her. Times past, Yanyan started to make her moves. She moved away to the University in Ithaca, New York, for four years.
She got struggled in school. She faced discrimination as a woman, a Chinese, and an immigrant.Yanyan was overwhelmed by both cultures’ difference. In America, the food was heavy, the money system was difficult, and odd English like “pull yourself together” were confusing for her. Yet still, Yanyan was strong enough to pass through the struggling successfully; even when American “Big Noses” embarrass her by stereotyping her as a maid, and think she must be good at doing laundry because she is Chinese. Through her experience and willingness to try, she made new friends, and became self-aware and begins to make a new life for herself in her new country confidently.Her life wasn’t floating smoothly like that for the whole time. Liang Baoshu showed up again in here life.
He harassed her to marry him and run away with him. Of course, Yanyan wouldn’t agree, because she realized that Baoshu who she used to love wasn’t like the one who was standing in front of her right now. Luckily, L. H. , Yanyan’s roommate showed up at the right time; she used a martial arts move and rescued Yanyan. I enjoyed the book very much, because the author, Lensey Namioka, has a very interesting and unique style of writing.
What I absolutely love the most from this author is for the fact that she putted many twists in the story that I never seem to expect them to happen. This make the story tends to be more interesting and fun to read since it’s so much more surprising like this than doing the reading and knowing what is the next actions already. The only disliked part about this book is it ended with a note that I didn’t really like, and it didn’t seem like it fit in with the whole ending. I think the last chapter and the final scene were just too rushed.
I also don’t like for the fact that the author didn’t try to make Yanyan’s voice always sound natural. Some of the dialogues were quite unrealistic. This error was a little unsatisfactory, since this book is made for teenage-girl audiences, therefore straightforwardness was not needed. Overall, this book was such a great influence for readers to know that they should always follow their dreams and goals no matter what.
I can promise you; this reading is worth every second of yours!