A Girl Named Faithful Plum

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I picked up this charming and inspirational biography at the last minute when I realized that the book I had planned for this week’s post wasn’t going to work because it had too much graphic content for me. Though this book was an impulsive read, it was also an enjoyable one, especially compared to what I had been reading.

A Girl Named Faithful Plum by Richard Bernstein
A Girl Named Faithful Plum by Richard Bernstein

This book covers the journey of young Zhongmei Li from a rural part of China all the way to an open audition in the Beijing Dance Academy, and into her first year as a dance student there. Although the reader knows that she will make it through each trial she faces and become a famous and talented dancer, everything that young Zhongmei faces is so unbelievable that it seems that she won’t make it through.

One of the most amazing parts of this book was that Zhongmei’s journey started at the age of eleven. At such a young age, she traveled across the country, away from her family, to pursue her dream. She then worked harder than many adults (myself included) do to achieve her dream.

Zhongmei Li’s tale is one that inspires hope and hard work.

I found Zhongmei’s spirit and determination absolutely inspirational. Even though there were times where she felt like she was going to be kicked out of school for being one of the worst dancers, she did not let that stop her. Instead, she woke up early and practiced harder. She worked harder than her peers and ended up being one of the most famous dancers in China, eventually traveling to the United States where she met her husband, the author of this book.

My only complaint about this book is that it ended. I would have loved to have had such an in-depth look at the other years of her education, as well as her career and how she met and fell in love with her husband, Richard Bernstein. From the “About the Author” section, I know they also have a child together. Though her first year ended up having a happy ending, I would have loved to hear about the rest of her life.

This book was a nice light read, especially after something as heavy as The Girl Behind the Door from last week. Even though it had its tense moments, it had a happy ending and those tense moments often ended up working out in Zhongmei’s favor. It was hopeful, inspirational, and a feel-good read.

The Girl Behind the Door

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

I was browsing the biography section of The Ohio Digital Library when I came upon this book. It looked interesting, so I put it on hold and thought nothing else of it for a couple more months, until it showed up in my email account as available.

The Girl Behind the Door by John Brooks
The Girl Behind the Door by John Brooks

John Brooks wrote the heart-wrenching story of traveling overseas to bring home a baby girl who was unhealthy from not receiving the care and attention she needed to raising a troubled teenager who would eventually end her life by stepping off of the Golden Gate Bridge. Brooks shared in painful detail the signs he only saw after the fact of her struggle to find her place in the world, and a diagnosis the he would only find after her death to be attachment disorder.

This book broke my heart because of my desire to foster children.

In his writing about attachment disorder and how it impacted his daughter’s ability to love and feel loved, Brooks explained that many children who are adopted are impacted by this disorder. Even children who are adopted very young, like his daughter Casey, have this overwhelming feeling that they are undesirable and that no one could ever love or want them. They struggle to build deep or lasting attachments, and often act out in burst of anger or emotion. It is an absolutely haunting condition to imagine anyone going through, especially one you have chosen to bring into your home to love and care for.

I will not even pretend to know what that feels like because I have never been adopted and I have do not have many friends who were. However, my husband have known for several years that we wanted to at the very least foster children with the possibility of adopting them. Casey was not just one case of the grief caused by attachment disorder. So many children are suffering and need to be loved and cared for by people who are not going to hurt them. While there is a part of me that feels overwhelmed and not good enough for such a task, I know that some day my husband and I may come to love one such child. Maybe even more.

The number of people who jump of of bridges is heartbreaking.

It surprised and saddened me that so many people use bridges like the Golden Gate to commit suicide. At the time the book was written, about thirty people a year jumped off that bridge to die. There is a project underway, due to be completed in 2019, to build a barrier to try to prevent these kind of acts. That may prevent people from jumping from bridges, but it does not deal with the pain that makes them jump.

I am not entirely sure what to make of this book after reading it. I feel more aware. I feel more heartbroken. But I do not know what to do about it except to love those around me better than I did before. One of them could be hurting and I wouldn’t even know it. I do not want to have to come aware of a loved one’s suffering only when it is too late.