Buy Me The Sky: The Remarkable Truth Of China’s One-Child Generations by Xinran
Journalist and radio presenter Xinran is known as the voice for Chinese women, following her books The Good Women Of China and Message From An Unknown Chinese Mother, amongst others. For her latest book, she has turned her attention to the generation of only children, born after China implemented its birth control policy from 1979, when parents were only allowed to have one child as a means of controlling population.
Although it was relaxed in 2013, the strict restrictions have meant there is a generation of “one and only” children growing up in sibling-free households, which Xinran notes has an effect on their adulthood, citing the case of Yao Jiaxin, a talented pianist who stabbed a woman he had run over as a dysfunctional example.
Within some families, sons are treated as “little emperors” and daughters as “little suns”, where the world revolves solely around them.
Buy Me The Sky tells the stories of nine case studies in detail, referencing many others, some of whom Xinran - also a mother-of-one - had met through her charity, The Mother’s Bridge of Love.
They vary from the spoilt Du Zhuang - a businessman’s son who can’t even open his own suitcase or hang up his clothes, to Flying Fish, who had to grow up quickly once she found out her father was sent to prison.
Some of the stories are heartbreaking: Golden Swallow cut off contact with her parents once she left China for New Zealand, Lotus was left emotionally and physically scarred after being drawn into a research group studying Taoist sexual practices, and Guihua’s memories of seeing two of her nieces being killed by their own parents.
As with Xinran’s other books, her latest non-fiction raises awareness of the issues and conflicts Chinese people face, and some of the emotions - the bond between mother and child - are easily relatable, even for those born and raised abroad.