"Refraction: An American Girl in China" tells the story of the American-born daughter of a U.S. Embassy military attaché in Chongqing and a Chinese actress. Sent back to China to live with her grandmother, the 2-year-old girl arrives in Shanghai on the eve of the Communist takeover. Moving to Beijing, she faces hostility because of her nationality and her refusal to denounce her father. After graduating from high school, she is sent to work in rural Shanxi Province in 1962 and later, to escape the madness of the Cultural Revolution, she moves to Xinjiang, where she spends nine years in farm work. Returning to Beijing after the death of Mao, she struggles against Chinese officialdom to reassert her American citizenship and return to the land of her birth.
Funny, sad, heart-breaking, and thrilling, this novel shows China at a very human level during a thirty-year period of great social change, with all the goodness, evil, kindness, and greed to be found in mankind on display.