When the Red Gates Opened by Dori Jones Yang is a book all readers, but especially determined, headstrong females, can identify with. Hers is a story of falling in love with an occupation, a country, and a man. The Mandarin-speaking author takes us with her as she struggles to break important stories for Business Week—while also nurturing her relationship with the Chinese American man she wants to marry. In often metaphorical language, she guides us throughout Hong Kong, China, and other Asian countries, opening our eyes to the cityscapes, countryside, and the people. We see events through the eyes of a new, then a seasoned, reporter. We accompany her to interviews with common citizens and major leaders and begin to understand the antecedents of China becoming a major economic power. We learn what led to and the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square massacre. As a fellow author who has also lived in a foreign country, I delighted in her use of similes such as, “…like handing over the church keys to a group of atheists.” This is a book dense with historical information that will delight the reader.
For the past year, I delayed reading Sharon Dukett’s memoir, No Rules, because I wasn’t eager to read yet another memoir about the sex, drugs, and rock and roll of the early 1970s. I had chosen a different life path, so in the first chapters, I found it hard not to judge the young protagonist for treating her body and life with such careless abandon. But the author’s detailed narrative, reflections, and vivid descriptions soon captured me, much like her charms captured those who tried to watch out for her. I, too, wanted to protect her from her more foolhardy decisions. The story of her life between the ages of 16 to 19, follows her from coast to coast and hitchhiking through Canada and back to the US. Each adventure and misadventure inches her closer to a realization of her strengths. This moving memoir whisks us through the tumultuous times of an earlier era as a young girl searches for wholeness and love, that she finds reside within herself.