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The Diary of Ma Yan: The Struggles and Hopes of a Chinese Schoolgirl

Press:Harpercollins HarperCollins; Tra edition (May 31, 2005)
Author Name:Ma, Yan/ Haski, Pierre (EDT)/ Appignanesi, Lisa (TRN)


Wednesday, November 7My father gave me and my brother a little money. 
My stomach is all twisted up with hunger, but I don't want to spend the money on anything as frivolous as food.
Because it's money my parents earn with their sweat and blood.
I have to study well so that I won't ever again be tortured by hunger.
.In a drought-stricken corner of rural China, an education can be the difference between a life of crushing poverty and the chance for a better future.
But money is scarce, and the low wages paid for backbreaking work aren't always enough to pay school fees.Ma Yan's heart-wrenching, honest diary chronicles her struggle to escape hardship and bring prosperity to her family through her persistent, sometimes desperate, attempts to continue her schooling.
First published in France in 2002, the diary of ma yan created an outpouring of support for this courageous teenager and others like her -- support that led to the creation of an international organization dedicated to helping these children .
all because of one ordinary girl's extraordinary diary.

From Booklist

"I want to go to school, Mother.
How wonderful it would be if I could go to school forever!" Thirteen-year-old Ma Yan, a peasant in the drought-scarred province of Ningxia, China, evidently scrawled this message in frustration at having to work in the fields.
According to a preface, Ma Yan's mother passed her daughter's plea to visiting French journalist Haski, along with journals documenting about nine months of Ma Yan's life.
Haski published them in France and established a charity to assist similarly impoverished Ningxia students, to which Ma Yan has since promised 25 percent of her royalties.
Some adults may be troubled by the diary's odd provenance and the purposeful annotations framing Ma Yan's rather meandering reflections.
Nonetheless, the affecting story, extended with photos of Ma Yan and her family, will push readers to a new understanding of the hardscrabble existence endured by many, even as her brooding reflections ("My moods go up and down") underscore how much teens everywhere have in common.
Some captions and photos not seen.
Jennifer MattsonCopyright © American Library Association.
All rights reserved

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.


“Heartbreakingly inspirational.” (AsianWeek)“Will push readers to a new understanding of the hardscrabble existence endured by many . 
[and] underscore how much teens everywhere have in common.” (ALA Booklist)“Paint[s] a vivid portrait of the daily life of a child in a part of the world seldom visited.” (School Library Journal)“Affecting.
Will open youngster’s eyes.” (Publishers Weekly)“Young readers are likely to rally in support of a peer’s struggle.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)“A compelling, heartbreaking story of poverty, deprivation, and hope.” (Vancouver Sun)

About the Author

Ma Yan is a teenager from Ningxia, China. 
She was thirteen and fourteen when she wrote these diary entries.
Now sixteen, Ma Yan hopes to attend a university: "I want to study journalism," says Ma Yan.
"My purpose is to keep the whole world informed, to report the poverty and real life in this area."Pierre Haski is the French journalist who first published extracts from Ma Yan's diary.
He was instrumental in establishing The Association for the Children of Ningxia, a fund that pays for the schooling of children like Ma Yan.


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Comment List (Total:16)

  •     I was trying to order a book by Mo Yan and selected Ma Yan by mistake. Turns out it was a lucky mistake. A heart-wrenching, heart warming diary of a young girl living in poverty in rural China whose greatest desire is to gain an education and honor her parents.

  •     Just a must.

  •     This book sheds light on a life of extreme poverty and the struggle to survive in a very remote part of China.

  •     to quote Oscar Wilde, diaries should be read only by those who write them. While I sympathize with the struggles of Ma Yan to receive an education, the diary is really neither...

  •     Inspiring story - insipid translation. The effort expended by these children and their parents just to get an eduction is incredible. The way it was written (or translated) was mediocre.

  •     Ma Yan's story gives readers great insight into what it is like to live in stark poverty in the Muslim area of China. For this reason I feel this story is a must read.

  •     An interesting informative read into a life far removed for my experience or even my imagination.Since it is a diary written by a young girl (about 12 or 13, it is very...

  •     This story depicts the contemporary conditions of students in a very poor district in China. Written by a 11 year old girl in diary form, it is a testament to the resilience and...

  •     This book is very inspiring for me. Living in a prosperous city I can’t understand how people live in that poor situation.

  •     Very interesting book.How can I complain again after reading about the difficult life of Ma Yan.Her struggles in every day life were more than I could have imagined.A very good book.Read it and you will think twice about complaining about your life.

  •     THe story behind this story is as prominent as the story.My kids and I each enjoyed it very much.

  •     Good

  •     This is an excellent book! Every 10-15yo should read it! Too many American children take their free educations for granted... This book will give them another perspective. The majority of the book is a translation of a real diary written by an actual child, so it doesn't read fluidly as fiction would...but it is very compelling. I highly recommend it!

  •     I bought the book and read it from beginning to end without stopping. It was such an inspiring and interesting story. I look forward to my own children reading this in the next few weeks. Thank you for sharing your story of strength and determination.

  •     This book didn't meet my expectations. But it was not the worst thing I have read. It kind of drags on

  •     How interesting to see what it's like for someone whose very existence depends on education, even to the point of calling food "frivolous."


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