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Larry's Kidney: Being the True Story of How I Found Myself in China with My Black Sheep Cousin and His Mail-Order Bride, Skirting the Law to Get Him a Transplant--and Save His Life Hardcover – May 12, 2009

3.8 out of 5 stars 112 customer reviews

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Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal
The bestselling author of "Encyclopedia an Ordinary Life" returns with a literary experience that is unprecedented, unforgettable, and explosively human. Hardcover | Kindle book
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly


“Along the way to finding a mail-order bride, falling in love with an alien country and saving Larry’s life, the duo experience extreme culture shock, flirt with espionage and discover unimaginable qualities in each other. Rose’s rhythms and comic timing, particularly in dialog with his cousin, will keep readers laughing throughout, even when they’re crying, frustrated or perplexed at the warts-and-all characters that emerge (Larry himself is particularly unpolished, gaining in empathy what he loses in likability). While they dance around the morality of their errand, the crux of the travelogue is two old friends learning to reconcile for a life-saving adventure in a foreign world. A satisfying, hysterical page-turner, this will captivate fans of travel writing and family narratives, with special interest for anyone who’s helped a love one through serious illness.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)


--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal


“A side-splitting tour de force that whisks readers off to China on a quest to get a transplant for the author’s cousin Larry . . . Larry’s challenging journey to China will resonate with readers who are rightfully concerned about the plight of American patients who may be relegated for years to an organ transplant waiting list.”
— Library Journal
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1 edition (May 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061708704
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061708701
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,414,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Swanson VINE VOICE on May 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Rose certainly has some amusing moments here, and his writing is zesty enough to create some entertaining interludes. There are a few touching moments, some nice local flavor, and some humorous bits of cross-cultural confusion.

BUT.
And this is one huge, massive BUT.

The central idea of Larry's Kidney is that as long as it's a family member you're saving, it doesn't matter how many other innocent people might suffer and die so that your precious family member can survive. He points out that it's illegal to do what they're doing, but as the title says, in his mind they're "skirting" the law. The tangentially mentioned truth at the heart of this book is that neither Rose nor his (unlikeably scheming) cousin Larry could give a damn if the kidney they're lusting after comes from a political prisoner. Rose even mentions the possibility and then quickly waves it off with the idea that, "What can you do? Larry is family. The prisoners aren't my concern, as they're not my family. Only their kidneys matter."

This is absolutely despicable when held up to the light of day.
So the families of a Chinese political prisoner don't matter, but your rather criminal cousin does, Mr. Rose? That is completely inhuman, especially in light of the constant Jewishness tossed around in this book. Almost every page has some Jewish reference or term. Fine. But isn't a huge part of the Jewish experience political persecution through the ages? Weren't Jews persecuted and thrown out of one country after another throughout history? And above all, did the Holocaust not teach us all the lesson that killing people simply because of their religious beliefs is inhuman?
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Perhaps it is the fact I have worked in health care for almost 20 years, and in that time I have seen what kidney disease can do. Perhaps it is the fact I didn't find Cousin Larry very likable. I don't know what first stuck in my craw, but I did not like Larry's Kidney: Being the True Story of How I Found Myself in China with My Black Sheep Cousin and His Mail-Order Bride, Skirting the Law to Get Him a Transplant--and Save His Life even a little bit. This is not a light hearted romp throughout China full of cultural misunderstandings and slapstick brushed with the law. It was sad to see author Daniel Asa Rose get more and more enmeshed in the schemes of a barely likeable cousin (having a life threatening illness usually does not improve a person's personality of change their character). Within a few chapters I was weary of Cousin Larry and had a hard time enduring to the end.
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Format: Paperback
I borrowed this book from a friend who bought it after hearing about the author on NPR. It's definitely a crazy story and a wild ride, but I was left feeling like much of it had to be fabricated. I think it often seemed too outlandish, where maybe it could have held back a little and would have still sounded crazy, yet more believable. I had a hard time buying a lot of the little details about their time in Chine and the relationship between the two cousins.

The way the family History was revealed often felt very contrieved, like Daniel Asa Rose might not be the best writer. I liked one of the last chapters, when Daniel is talking to Jade. I thought that was one of the more honest and revealing sections of the whole book. I wish the general tone had been a bit more serious and a lot less zany. I think it had potential and was certainly an interesting scenario, that got lost with the details that Rose decided were more important.

Please visit my blog for more reviews and musings.
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Format: Hardcover
I heard an interview with Daniel on KFI AM640 - Bill Handel right when the book came out (2009) - Bought it and never took the time to read it, until this Labor Day Weekend. I enjoyed every page. A serious subject but, written in a way that makes one at least think about being a donor.

- and being a Girl Scout - I got a kick out of Larry and his "addiction" to the various cookies!
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Format: Hardcover
I was enchanted by this narrative and the heroics of everyone involved in this dilemma that was so challenging at so many levels. Of course I do not support many of the activities the Chinese government and so many others in regards to human rights. But that does not take away from the incredible sacrifices Dan made, his family made in supporting this trip, and all the beautiful citizens of China and the ex-pats he encountered who truly risked their lives as well to help him save his cousin's life. I read the book in a couple sitting savoring every word. When I was done I signed up to be an organ donor something I had avoided doing for year. Humanity has many different meanings but Dan showed the side of humanity I hope I would have in that situation.
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Format: Paperback
So I live in South Korea. I was cleaning out my apartment because I'm moving in with my GF, and I find a local expat magazine that I kept two copies of. I forgot why I had two copies and, looking through it was because I did a review of this book. Jeez, I'd forgotten how horrible it was and felt the need to post on amazon to disuade anyone else from purchasing it. Here's some excerpts from my review from 2009:

"...his eye for detail is superb, [but] his choice to write in dialect leaves him painted into a corner where at some points his Chinese characters sound like a certain racist elementary school joke involving Coke and urine...this leaves readers in a position where they are constantly asking themselves "Holy s***, did he really just say that?"

"Also in question is the author's knowledge of China. Rose simply doesn't talk to anyone except his handlers, leaving an impression of China that is vibrant, yet uninformative."

"Finally, there's Larry himself. Seeing as the book rests on Rose's portrayal of his cousin, you'd a expect a character that is simply undeniable. His strong personality definitely pulls this book through. The problem is the seriousness of the topic of the organ black-markets. Was Larry worth his kidney, especially if the reader has to live with the idea that it could very well have come from a political prisoner?"

Ya know, I had a very limited wordspace for the review, and looking back I was actually too easy on it. This author honestly deserves to be chided, not for writing about the tale, but from profiting from it as well. Everyone has crazy periods in life where they do things without thinking about the ramifications too hard; but to write a book on this subject automatically implicates the author in this human travesty since writing is the art of reflecting.
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