Okay, my first ever exception to the blog rule! I do read books of various genres but [until now], this blog has only published my reviews on Christian books. However, here’s my personal reason I chose this one to share with you:
My husband and I fully believe in the biblical command of taking care of orphans. We pray for it daily — what that means for us. Adoption? Financially helping others adopt? Volunteering at an orphanage? Etc. Long story short, “China” kept popping up in my life. People sharing articles about adoption needs, free seminar options flashing before me, and so on. I understood this book would give me a greater understanding of the Chinese people (which it did and I’ll tell you about it below), which would, in turn, help me better understand the culture we might possibly be connecting with in the future. I do not know if China kept coming up in random conversations because God is laying that before us or what, but it is my duty to be ready.
So, that’s a stretch, I realize, for including it on this blog, but no matter. It is a phenomenal book you should read anyway! Without further ado…
Rob Schmitz, an American correspondent who reports on China’s economy, lives on a street in Shanghai that loosely translates to “Street of Eternal Happiness.” The book walks along with him as he creates and builds relationships with his neighbors, all local Chinese citizens with all varying stories.
A sandwich shop owner who also sells accordions. A flower shop owner who is helping raise her grandson. A bickering older couple who have such fascinating personalities. A long-haired street beggar who shares “aha” insight as to why he doesn’t return home to his family.
These and other characters, all completely real in Schmitz’s life, spend hours upon hours with him, revealing aspects of China that stereotypical thoughts never happen upon. I love a quote on the book jacket:
“Each story adds another layer of humanity and texture to modern China, a tapestry also woven with Schmitz’s insight as a foreign correspondent. The result is an intimate and surprising portrait that dispenses with the tired stereotypes of a country we think we know, immersing us instead in the vivid stories of the people who make up one of the world’s most captivating cities.”
China is a deeply complicated country with a history of which I do not know much, to be honest. This book, however, did an excellent job in teaching me some of it in a captivating way. Yet, it seemed the more I learned, the less I knew as I kept realizing the enormity of the Chinese culture — a thought also articulated by the author as he commented on China’s economy.
The millennials in China outnumber the entire population of the United States of America. That’s crazy to think about and should give you an idea of the size of this country. There are billions of people, all with individual dreams and ideas of how to achieve them. When speaking with this younger generation, Schmitz learns that they believe they can influence the world — that China has a lot to offer. And he agrees. (See his recent interview with CNN!)
Through each chapter, I could sense a deep passion for the Chinese people. Rob Schmitz also has proven himself to be an honest, unbiased reporter of experiences and observances. He writes of potentially controversial topics (for example, different religions) with the same voice and the same enrapturing calmness that just draws you in to read more.
I feel my review is inadequately reflecting the excellence of this book. Street of Eternal Happiness is written with great talent and is relevant to just about any type of reader. Definitely check it out if you get a chance.
I received this book free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.