By Jian Ping
Beverly invited me to talk to her women’s book club at noon today in Downers Grove, a western suburb of Chicago. I readily agreed. I knew the area, close to where I used to live in the western suburb of Chicago.
Beverly advised that her group had been together for many years and some of them were friends since high school. I always enjoyed talking to book clubs—they would have read my book by the time we meet and the questions they raise are always more thought provoking.
The 15 or so of women were already at Beverly’s home by the time I arrived, thanks to the traffic jam on I-55. Beverly greeted me at the door. I felt like I had known her for a long time. She said she was a “planner”. I was certainly impressed by her timely follow up and attention to details ever since she approached me via email—she provided me with detailed driving directions, sent me a list of questions that she’d like to ask, and made a comprehensive list of events that happened to my family and China in chronological order. Even today, to go with the China-themed discussion, she offered Chinese food: eggroll, orange chicken, rice, and of course, fortune cookies.
Our talk started at noon, followed by lunch and our continued discussions on Mulberry Child and China in general. I was planning to leave at 2:30 p.m. but didn’t depart until nearly 4 p.m., making it the longest appearance I had ever had at a book club! Our discussions went from the happenings to my family, mother-daughter relationship, parenting, to the development of China today. I very much appreciated their genuine interest in my story and China, and enjoyed our discussion and interaction.
It is moment like this that makes me realize why I write.