Rating: 3.5 Stars (4 Stars with an additional proofread/edit)
I received a free PDF copy of this manuscript from the author, Aldo Quintana, in exchange for an honest review.
At this time there is not a cover but I will add it to the post when it becomes available.
My rating means just that. While the copy that I received had been proofed, the author indicated in an email exchange that he was planning to do at least one more read aloud and I provided a short list of minor errors I came across such as typos or awkward phrasing. There are not things that necessarily take away the strength of the story, which is the author's voice and personal experiences while in a foreign country, but are needed fixes in order to make the story a bit more polished.
The author and I have been Twitter and Facebook page followers of one another for some time now and I have to admit that as I was seeing his posts or Tweets about the manuscript, I was was kind of hoping he would ask me to review it. I know next to nothing about China, save for snippets about the Great Wall, and the documentaries I have watched about the Terracotta army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. To use a phrase you might recognize as one I say often, "It is almost embarrassing how little I really know about China." I was interested in reading it because of the premise, of spending six months in a foreign country, as well as the topic, China.
I learned four very valuable lessons that I would like to share right off the bat that make me positive that I could never actually live in China:
- Fireworks are legal every single damn day of the year. If you know me, then you know that every year, from roughly June 25th through July 3rd, I rage about idiots shooting off fireworks every day leading up to the 4th. It would drive me batshit insane to hear them year-round. The 4th is one of my favorite holidays and every year these morons around me try to ruin it by setting them off constantly. If though, as it is mentioned in the book, they are set off to signify the birth of a baby, I am okay with that.
- The pollution is seriously out of control. If there was ever a need for environmental reforms, this is it. When your government has to issue a chart that helps determine pollution level each day, and that there will be some days the pollution is so bad that the general public is told to stay indoors, then you have a problem. China has just such a problem. In the book the author discusses the mask he wore on the high-pollution days and he says he still has it. What a souvenir! As an additional note, the author included this chart as a graphic within the text. It was nice to have the visual.
- Negotiating would make me seriously crazed and impatient. I am not a patient person to begin with (I'm working on it), and to haggle with street vendors is something I would not be able to do well because I don't like wasting time, and I don't like people trying to sucker me out of money. I know this is common in many countries besides China, but I would either never buy anything or end up broke really quickly because I just don't have time for tomfoolery.
- You are not allowed to use Google Chrome. Sorry China, this was the deal breaker. All I use is Google Chrome.