One Child: The Story of China’s Most Radical Experiment by Mei Fong [in Library Journal]
China’s infamous one-child policy lasted just 35 years. Forced sterilizations, gruesome late-term abortions, an overseas adoption boom, and baby trafficking emerged as by-products of the draconian law.
What was touted as a “necessary step in [China’s] Herculean efforts to lift the population…from abject poverty” resulted in repercussions that “continue to shape how one in six people in the world are born, live, and die.”
The consequences are dire: the policy “rapidly created a population that is too old, too male, and quite possibly, too few.” Generations of singletons are caught in a preposterous bind: overcoddled and overindulged, while facing impossible expectations by desperate parents.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Mei Fong, whose Malaysian Chinese background provided insider access, blends policy and the personal experiences of those affected for a staggering first title; alas, it’s better read on the page. Narrator Janet Song sounds as if she’s too often on the verge of tears, which might be appropriate for the most inhumane tragedies, but the less wrenching sections hardly warrant such overwrought pitch.
Verdict: The disappointing presentation pales in comparison to the significance of the contents, making Child an important acquisition for all libraries intending to enhance their international collections.