The Diary of Ma Yan: The Struggles and Hopes of a Chinese Schoolgirl

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9780060764982: The Diary of Ma Yan: The Struggles and Hopes of a Chinese Schoolgirl

"I'm so hungry, I could eat anything. Anything at all."

In a drought-stricken corner of rural China, an education can be the difference between a life of crushing poverty and the chance for a better future. But for Ma Yan, money is scarce, and the low wages paid for backbreaking work aren't always enough to pay school fees . . . or even to provide enough food for herself and her family.

Ma Yan's heart-wrenching, honest diary chronicles her struggle to escape hardship through her persistent, sometimes desperate, attempts to continue her schooling. Its publication was an international sensation, creating an outpouring of support for this courageous teenager and others like her . . . all due to one ordinary girl's extraordinary diary.

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About the Author:

Ma Yan is a teenager from Ningxia, China. She was thirteen and fourteen when she wrote these diary entries. Now sixteen, Ma Yan hopes to attend a university: "I want to study journalism," says Ma Yan. "My purpose is to keep the whole world informed, to report the poverty and real life in this area."



Pierre Haski is the French journalist who first published extracts from Ma Yan's diary. He was instrumental in establishing The Association for the Children of Ningxia, a fund that pays for the schooling of children like Ma Yan.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 5-8–In 2001, while a French journalist was visiting remote Ningxia province in northwest China, a Muslim woman wearing the white headscarf of the Hui people thrust the diaries of her daughter into his hands. The three small notebooks described the girl's struggle to get an education despite extreme poverty. Each week Ma Yan and her younger brothers walked seven miles to school where they stayed until Friday night when they returned home. Often their only food was a small bowl of rice at midday. Only occasionally did they have a bit of money to buy some vegetables in the market or to catch a tractor ride home for the weekend. Ma Yan studied hard, but she did not feel successful unless she was number one in her class. When she didn't rank first, she was berated by her mother and made to feel guilty for her lack of effort. Her parents worked constantly to make a better life for their children, farming their own fields, harvesting crops for others, and collecting the plant fa cai from the steppes north of their home. The girl's feelings for her mother were powerful and complex, and she alternated between overwhelming love and rage at the injustices she suffered. While this book will not hold the interest of average readers because of its overly didactic tone, it does paint a vivid portrait of the daily life of a child in a part of the world seldom visited.–Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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