Paper Daughter: A Memoir

Paperback | July 25, 2000

byM. Elaine Mar

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When she was five years old, M. Elaine Mar and her mother emigrated from Hong Kong to Denver to join her father in a community more Chinese than American, more hungry than hopeful.

While working with her family in the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant and living in the basement of her aunt's house, Mar quickly masters English and begins to excel in school. But as her home and school life--Chinese tradition and American independence--become two increasingly disparate worlds, Mar tries desperately to navigate between them.

Adolescence and the awakening of her sexuality leave Elaine isolated and confused. She yearns for storebought clothes and falls for a red-haired boy who leads her away from the fretful eyes of her family. In his presence, Elaine is overcome by the strength of her desire--blocking out her family's visions of an arranged marriage in Hong Kong.

From surviving racist harassment in the schooIyard to trying to flip her straight hair like Farrah Fawcett, from hiding her parents' heritage to arriving alone at Harvard University, Mar's story is at once an unforgettable personal journey and an unflinching, brutal look at the realities of the American Dream.

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From Our Editors

It may look like a regular Chinese restaurant, but M. Elaine Mar takes us upstairs to an immigrants’ social club, where the decor resembles that of another country. In this rarely seen part of America, Mar forces readers to start thinking about the notion of an unhindered, integrated society. Mar’s intelligent and witty Paper Daugh...

From the Publisher

When she was five years old, M. Elaine Mar and her mother emigrated from Hong Kong to Denver to join her father in a community more Chinese than American, more hungry than hopeful. While working with her family in the kitchen of a Chinese restaurant and living in the basement of her aunt's house, Mar quickly masters English and begin...

From the Jacket

With gritty, intimate detail, M. Elaine Mar takes us into the back rooms of a Chinese restaurant and the upper floors of an immigrants' social club, places whose addresses say "Denver" but whose interiors speak of another country. By revealing this little-seen, insular pocket of America, Mar debunks the notion of a classless, integrate...

M. Elaine Mar graduated from Harvard University in 1988. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 0.69 inPublished:July 25, 2000Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0060930527

ISBN - 13:9780060930523

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From Our Editors

It may look like a regular Chinese restaurant, but M. Elaine Mar takes us upstairs to an immigrants’ social club, where the decor resembles that of another country. In this rarely seen part of America, Mar forces readers to start thinking about the notion of an unhindered, integrated society. Mar’s intelligent and witty Paper Daughter: A Memoir will change the stereotypical view many people have of Asian Americans and instead concentrate on larger issues such as breaking down barriers.

Editorial Reviews

"A moving account of a young woman's struggle to shape her identity and imagine a future she can call her own. Against the odds, M. Elaine Mar emerges whole, and the story she tells is unforgettable." -- A. Manette Ansay, author of "River Angel" and "Sister" "Elaine Mar tells a truly fresh story about the Chinese American experience. Imagine moving from the cosmopolitan city of Hong Kong to the white-bread environs of Denver and the cultural chaos that would create! I'm still thinking about the contrasting images of the fat Buddha sitting on top of the TV, of lunches of chicken bone marrow and dinners of Spaghetti's, and of Bible school lessons and a mother who continues to worship a pantheon of restless spirits." -- Lisa See, author of "Flower Net" and "On Gold Mountain" "Elaine Mar's writing is so immediate. I don't think I have ever read a better depiction of the pain resulting from being wrenched Out of one culture to be shot into another. No one who reads "Paper Daughter" will ever be able to look, at the workers in their favorite Chinese takeout in quite the same way again." -- Bruce Edward Hall, author of" Tea That Burns" "This intimate portrait of a young girl's journey from Hong Kong to Denver and eventually Harvard is so vividly drawn that the reader can almost taste the flavors of the foods prepared in the family's restaurant kitchen and feel the words of new language forming on the tongue. The richly textured prose demonstrates that Mar has become a virtuoso of the very language she struggled so hard to adopt." -- Linda Katherine Cutting, author of "Memory Slips"