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An Ocean Apart, a World Away Mass Market Paperback – December 9, 2003

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

During the early 1900s, China struggled to maintain an unstable democracy as radical factions fought over territories and political titles. Many young women found themselves caught between old traditions and new notions. Xueyan, or Yanyan, is lucky. Her father is one of the few who believes in education for women. So when an opportunity arises for her to attend Cornell University in America, Yanyan takes it with her family's blessing. Her only regret is leaving behind her schoolgirl crush, Liang Boashu. Once enrolled at Cornell, Yanyan is overwhelmed by culture shock. In America, the food is heavy, the money system is difficult, and odd English phrases like "pull yourself together" are confusing. Still, Yanyan thrives at school, even when American "Big Noses" embarrass her by stereotyping her as a maid, or think she must be good at doing laundry because she is Chinese. But just when she begins to finally feel at home in her new country, Liang Boashu shows up. No longer an angry young militant, Boashu is now a polished diplomat with marriage on his mind. Will Yanyan be forced to choose between her hard-won independence and the feelings she still has for Boashu?

Lensey Namioka's story of one girl's quest for identity in a time of shifting gender roles is both charming and thought provoking. Teens will be absorbed and amused by Yanyan's attempts at American slang ("I had to pull my guts together") and witty observances of "Big Nose" culture, while commiserating with her search for self. Recommended. (Ages 10 to 14) --Jennifer Hubert --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Picking up where Namioka's Ties That Bind, Ties That Break left off, this novel opens in 1921 China, where Ailin is about to set sail for America. Ailin's classmate and friend Yanyan, who narrates here, travels to Shanghai to bid her farewell; Eldest Brother and his friend Baoshu serve as Yanyan's chaperones. Baoshu's mixed heritage (a father who served as a Chinese imperial officer and a Manchu mother) offers Namioka an opportunity to explore the mounting tensions in China over beliefs about who can best unite the country. However, the author does not delve deeply enough to give readers a clear sense of the issues at stake. Instead, she concentrates on Yanyan's adjustment to American culture, when the heroine enrolls as a student at Cornell. A romance ignites between Baoshu and Yanyan, who then turns down Baoshu's proposal that she run away with him; later L.H., a fellow Chinese student, also gradually shows signs that he wants more than friendship. Yanyan must decide what she wants for herself and from a partnership. Namioka covers (literally) so much ground (Yanyan's boat trip to America, her cross-country rail trip from Seattle to Cornell, her visit by train to Ailin in San Francisco during her school's Christmas break, etc.) that many of the characters and relationships are fleetingly portrayed rather than fully developed. Some readers may be satisfied with the conclusion, but others may wonder if Yanyan ever fulfills her dream to become a doctor. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Mass Market Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Laurel Leaf (December 9, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440229731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440229735
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 0.5 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,004,323 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on August 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a terrific sequel to "Ties that bind, ties that break." Lensey Namioka brings the reader up to date with the stories of Ailin and her best friend, Yanyan. Ailin is still in San Francisco with her husband. Yanyan is a student at Cornell University in Ithaca. The story takes place in 1911. It explains how Yanyan begins to study for a medical career. Namioka's spare, elegant writing is wonderful... This book is highly recommended. It brings the story full circle and I enjoyed it so much.
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By A Customer on July 22, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I just have to say, I am now such a big fan of Lensey Namioka. I've read "Ties that Bond, and Ties that Break" a little over a year ago, and now, After reading "An Ocean Apartm A World Away" I am simply blown away. This book was a continuation of the other and I absolutey love the fact that there are so many twists in it that you really never seem to expect. While there are so turns that went the predicable way, the rest of the story made up for it! The only down part about this book for me was, it ended on a note I didn't really like, but it was still good anyway. This is such I great read, and I can promise you, its worth every second! ^_^
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Format: Hardcover
Yanyan is a 16-year old girl living in China in 1921. She's finished with highschool, and wonders what the next stage of her life will bring. Always with an interest in medicine, Yanyan is thinking of finding a way to become a doctor. But then she meets the intriguing, charismatic Liang Boashu. He wants her to come away with him and be a part of his dangerous life, but is he more important to Yanyan than medicine? This question takes Yanyan to America, where she is faced with a drastically different life and decisions about where she belongs in it.
As stated, this book was typically a pleasant read. The biggest asset this book had was its likeable main character. Yanyan's courage, strength, spunk, and uniqueness just make readers want to root for her. Her excellent personality paves the way for her compelling choices and thoughts-both of which keep the reader just aching to know what happens next. I literally finished "An Ocean Apart, A World Away" in a day!
Yet something small slightly mars this promising read. Despite all of her spirit and sparkle, Yanyan's "voice" doesn't always sound natural. A bit of dialogue is quite stiff, and at times I had a nagging sense that the novel seemed too "simple." This simplicity was a little disappointing, since this book is for a "teenage girl" audience for which middle-grade straightforwardness was not needed. Yanyan would have been an even better character if her persona was more "embellished" and she wrestled with decisions a little longer. And, I've got to say it, the last chapter and the final scene were just too rushed!
I probably seem nitpicky and cynical, but I truly enjoyed parts of this book. I loved the personality of Yanyan and felt the ideas of the books were appealing and promising. Yet I can't quite give this book a glowing review with its style problems. Read it for a usually satisfying main character, but be prepared for a few flaws.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
It is the nineteen-twenties, and Yanyan is living in China with her family. China is in turmoil, as it has been for years, but Yanyan's family is stable and progressive. She lives with her parents and her two older brothers. Despite the fact that she is a girl in a fairly wealthy family, Yanyan did not have her feet bound as a child. Her parents permitted her to attend the school run by American missionaries and she and her mother are encouraged to participate in conversation at the dinner table, even when arguments break out. Yanyan's father is a diplomat who has traveled to other countries and has seen how they live.

Despite the fact that she is a teenager and should be thinking about these things, Yanyan is not at all concerned with marriage. In fact, she would like to become a doctor and support herself for the rest of her life. Then she meets her brother's friend Baoshu, who is handsome and exciting. He wants her to run away with him and become a rebel, fighting the government. She thinks about his offer and the excitement that it would bring to her life, but instead decides to go to college. She enrolls in Cornell College in Ithica, New York, and travels thousands of miles away from her family to attend. College life is more difficult than she expected, and she encounters many prejudices about Chinese people. But she is determined to make it through and achieve her dream.

I liked that this story was a parallel of "Ties that Bind, Ties that Break." I liked seeing how another Chinese girl was able to make her way in the world. I liked the strength and courage of Yanyan's character. She knew what she wanted and didn't give up.
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