Patriot Number One
A deeply reported look at the Chinese immigrant community in the United States, casting a new light on what it means to seek the American dreamNearly three years ago, journalist Lauren Hilgers received an unexpected call. Hello, Lauren! a man shouted in halting Mandarin. We might be seeing you in New York again soon! The voice belonged to Zhuang Liehong, a Chinese man who had been arrested in his home country for leading a string of protests, and whom Hilgers had met the previous year while reporting a story. Despite zero contacts and a shaky grasp of English, Zhuang explained that he and his wife, Little Yan, had a plan to escape from their American tour group and move to Flushing, Queens, to escape persecution back home. A few weeks later, they arrived on Hilgers's doorstep. With a novelistic eye for character and detail, Hilgers weaves their story with a larger investigation of the Chinese community in Flushing, one of the fastest-growing immigrant enclaves in the US. There's Tang Yuanjun, a former Tiananmen Square leader who has come to terms with living a shadow life in America as his friends and family continue their own in China. And Karen, one of Little Yan's friends from night school, who was kidnapped by her relatives yet remains hopeful, working part-time in a nail salon as she attends vocational school for hotel work. Patriot Number One is Hilgers's nuanced, through-the-looking-glass story of the twenty-first-century American dream. Zhuang and Little Yan's challenges reveal a world hidden in plain sight: the byzantine network of employment agencies and language schools, of underground banks and illegal dormitories that allow immigrants to survive. Amid a raging immigration debate on the national stage, Hilgers's deeply reported and beautifully wrought account paints a revealing portrait of just what it takes to survive.

Patriot Number One Details

TitlePatriot Number One
Author
ReleaseMar 20th, 2018
PublisherCrown Publishing Group (NY)
ISBN-139780451496133
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Cultural, China, History

Patriot Number One Review

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    January 1, 1970
    5 bold stars to Patriot Number One, a nonfiction masterpiece! 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 Lauren Hilgers is an American journalist who met a man named Zhuang while reporting on site in his village in China. Zhuang, a free-thinker, had been arrested for staging protests and was labeled a dissident. He called Lauren one day to say he would be traveling to America and had plans to abandon his tour group, along with his wife, and live in Chinatown in Flushing, New York. I found the build-up of what would happen with 5 bold stars to Patriot Number One, a nonfiction masterpiece! 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 Lauren Hilgers is an American journalist who met a man named Zhuang while reporting on site in his village in China. Zhuang, a free-thinker, had been arrested for staging protests and was labeled a dissident. He called Lauren one day to say he would be traveling to America and had plans to abandon his tour group, along with his wife, and live in Chinatown in Flushing, New York. I found the build-up of what would happen with Zhuang and Little Yan in America completely enthralling, centered around the underground, secret world of immigrants, both documented and undocumented, including language schools, dormitories, off-the-record banks, and employment agencies, all put in place for mere survival of people trying their best to live the American Dream. Even with the ingenuity of these supports, it continues to be a challenge to survive for Zhuang and his family. The jobs are few and far between, and what is available is low paying. The housing is abysmal and unsafe. After their arduous work to get to the United States, will they achieve their dreams? Will Zhuang and Little Yan qualify for political asylum, allowing them access to better jobs and an improved way of life? Hilgers presents this nonfiction story in a way as compelling as any fictional character study. Zhuang and his wife, Little Yan, are endearing, engaging people, and Hilgers’ writing is silky smooth. I never tire of books on the immigrant experience. It’s an often heated debate in this country, and stories such as Patriot Number One offer opportunities for discussion and understanding at a deeper level. Patriot Number One came highly recommended by my Goodreads friend, Fran. Thanks, Fran, for an unforgettable read! Thank you to Lauren Hilgers, Crown Publishing, and Netgalley for the copy to read and review. Patriot Number One releases on March 20, 2018.
    more
  • Fran
    January 1, 1970
    Chinatown, in Flushing, Queens, has one of the largest Chinese populations outside Asia. Having lived in Flushing in the 1980's, I traveled on the #7 subway line and shopped on Main Street. Ethnically, the population was mostly of European descent. I was curious about the restructuring and changing ethnicity of my old haunts. "Patriot Number One" is a dual story, a story of a Chinese immigrant family and a recounting of the dwindling size of Wukan Village, Lufeng local government, in Guangdong P Chinatown, in Flushing, Queens, has one of the largest Chinese populations outside Asia. Having lived in Flushing in the 1980's, I traveled on the #7 subway line and shopped on Main Street. Ethnically, the population was mostly of European descent. I was curious about the restructuring and changing ethnicity of my old haunts. "Patriot Number One" is a dual story, a story of a Chinese immigrant family and a recounting of the dwindling size of Wukan Village, Lufeng local government, in Guangdong Province. In 2012, Zhuang Liehong opened a tea shop in Wukan Village. Zhuang possessed a clear sense of right and wrong. This instinct made him a village leader, one who inspired others to action when, without village approval, local officials requisitioned collective land to be sold to developers. This requisition caused Wukan to disappear in size as the city of Lufeng continued to expand. Zhuang and fellow villagers decided to petition the government, drafting a letter of complaint. In 2014, journalist Lauren Hilgers, visited Wukan Village to do research for a magazine article about the Wukan Village Protests. She happened upon Zhuang's tea shop.Author Hilgers documents the journey of Zhuang and wife Little Yan in their attempt to escape to the United States and file for political asylum. Zhuang envisions a welcoming reception. Instead, the plight of undocumented immigrants is replete with menial, low paying jobs and inadequate housing. First things first, Zhuang and Little Yan must apply for asylum. Little Yan secures a grueling job at a nail salon while Zhuang stays tethered to his friends and connections in Wukan. The bottom line, everyone has to eat bitter. (suck it up)Lauren Hilgers follows Zhuang, Little Yan and others in Flushing and Wukan Village over the course of over three years documenting an immigrant experience as well as the Wukan villagers attempts to reclaim over 10,000 mu or approximately 1,650 acres of collective land, especially land used for farming. "Patriot Number One: American Dreams in Chinatown" by Lauren Hilgers is definitely an eye-opening must read.Thank you Crown Publishing and Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review "Patriot Number One".
    more
  • Cheri
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 Stars“And I've been searching for somethingTaken out of my soulSomething I would never loseSomething somebody stole“I don't know why I go walking at nightBut now I'm tired and I don't want to walk anymoreI hope it doesn't take the rest of my lifeUntil I find what it is that I've been looking for” --River of Dreams - Billy Joel, Songwriters, Billy Joel”And during the Wukan protests in 2011, according to an interview with the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong, Zhuang had learned an importa 4.5 Stars“And I've been searching for somethingTaken out of my soulSomething I would never loseSomething somebody stole“I don't know why I go walking at nightBut now I'm tired and I don't want to walk anymoreI hope it doesn't take the rest of my lifeUntil I find what it is that I've been looking for” --River of Dreams - Billy Joel, Songwriters, Billy Joel”And during the Wukan protests in 2011, according to an interview with the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong, Zhuang had learned an important lesson, he told the reporter: ‘The biggest fortune in life is not health but freedom.’”Much of this is centered in Flushing, New York, but there is enough context of life in China to get a fairly thorough understanding of why this family, along with others, left another country for the American Dream. A picture of their life before, and a picture of their life after, and not only how different the lifestyles were from Wukan to Flushing, but most likely how far from reality their dream of life in America was – and yet, how grateful for the freedom. I wanted to read this as, fairly recently, my brother married a woman (whom I adore) who had emigrated to America from China around the same time as this couple. She lived in Flushing with her then husband and their young daughter. I know how hard it was for her to leave family behind, and start a new life in America, and then again, alone with her children, to start again in a new place as a single mother. For me, while their stories are very different, there is an element there that made this feel so honestly portrayed, and I loved that. Their frustrations, their day-in-day-out living as new immigrants, and their experiences getting documented, finding work, trying to work their way up an American ladder of dreams which were very slow to be fulfilled. And always parting with money that is so very difficult to come by, and so easily gone. Trying to learn American ways, the English language, a new neighborhood, and then another new neighborhood, followed by yet another. Lauren Hilgers began writing this non-fiction account in 2012, thinking of it as a magazine story about Wukan Village in the time following the protests, but as life changed, so did this story. Beginning in China and ending up in New York City, while this is the story of two immigrants, it is also the story of the people of Wukan Village, some of those in person, and some obtained through the internet, as well as Zhuang’s collection of documentation. This is truly an amazing glimpse of a life so different from one most of us have lived, the determination and drive to achieve a better life, and the heartbreaks they endure in search of this life, a life with freedom. This is nothing short of inspirational. Thanks to my goodreads friends Jennifer and Fran for getting my attention for this one with their stellar reviews:Fran’s review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...Jennifer’s review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...Published: 20 MAR 2018Many thanks for the ARC provided by Crown Publishing
    more
  • Bkwmlee
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 starsWith the ongoing immigration debate in the U.S. as of late, this book that takes a deep dive into the Chinese immigrant community through the stories of several immigrants pursuing their version of the American dream is a timely one that I feel everyone should read. Written by American journalist Lauren Hilgers, this a real-life, first-hand account of the Chinese immigrant experience through the story of Zhuang Liehong, a young man from the village of Wukan in China who finds himself se 4.5 starsWith the ongoing immigration debate in the U.S. as of late, this book that takes a deep dive into the Chinese immigrant community through the stories of several immigrants pursuing their version of the American dream is a timely one that I feel everyone should read. Written by American journalist Lauren Hilgers, this a real-life, first-hand account of the Chinese immigrant experience through the story of Zhuang Liehong, a young man from the village of Wukan in China who finds himself seeking asylum in the United States in order to escape political persecution back home. Using the pseudonym “patriot number one,” Zhuang had organized protests and wrote letters exposing the corruption of local government officials who had requisitioned land belonging to the village and sold it to developers for profit, all without approval or consent of those who owned and/or lived on the land (a “practice” that still goes on quite frequently in China and Hong Kong currently). Despite his boundless enthusiasm and love for his village, the place where he grew up and where he hoped to raise his son, Zhuang came to understand that he was fighting an uphill battle and in 2014, he and his wife Little Yan decided to leave China for New York, eventually settling in Flushing, amongst a larger community of Chinese immigrants. From there, we follow Zhuang and Little Yan on their journey as they attempt to carve out a new life for themselves in a country where they not only didn’t know the language, they also had little in the way of friends and/or acquaintances to guide them (the author Hilgers was the only “friend” they knew in the U.S.). The challenge to survive was an everyday reality for this couple, as they fought to get their asylum case approved so that they could reunite with their infant son, whom they were forced to leave behind in China. In addition to Zhuang and Little Yan’s story, Hilgers also paralleled the stories of a few other Chinese immigrants – Karen, a young woman Little Yan meets at night school who is trying to build a new life for herself after being sent to study in the U.S., and Tang Yuanjun, a former leader of the Tiananmen Square protests who survived his fair share of imprisonment and abuse in China and upon settling in the U.S., decides to devote his life to helping fellow immigrants who, like Zhuang, continue to fight for justice and change in their home towns.I first read about this book in Book Page and was immediately drawn to it because of my own background as a Chinese immigrant. Of course, having immigrated to the U.S. as a small child, my experiences were very different from Zhuang and Little Yan’s, but being so connected to the Chinese community (both locally as well as back in the place of my birth – Hong Kong) most of my life, there were many elements of their story (as well as the stories of Karen, Tang Yuanjun, and others described in the book) that I knew I would be familiar with and be able to relate to. The other reason I was drawn to this book was because of my own family dynamics – my brother’s wife is from China, also from a village in the more rural areas, and even though it has been 10 years since she immigrated here and since then, she has overcome many of the struggles she herself had faced, balancing life as an immigrant continues to be a challenge due to the extended family she has both here as well as back in China. Though the circumstances of my family members’ stories were vastly different than those described in the book (for example – my family immigrated here the traditional way due to wanting a better life for themselves and future generations rather than needing to escape political persecution), many of the experiences once here were similar. The struggles of working class immigrants are very real and while I don’t fault those who paint all immigrants with a broad brush or who dismiss immigrants’ struggles as less important and somehow “legitimate” because they are viewed as “imposing” themselves on another country, it is hard for me to share these same sentiments knowing as deeply as I do the “price” behind those struggles. I understand what it means to leave behind family – parents, siblings, in the case of Zhuang and Little Yan, their infant son – and travel to a place that is completely foreign to you, a place that you’ve only read or heard grand stories about, a place where you don’t know the language and barely know anyone and where the question of survival is constantly on your mind. Having to work through bureaucratic red tape in efforts to do things “the right way” while figuring out a means to survive financially without becoming a burden to others, not knowing how long the “wait” will be yet wanting to be useful and contributing to society, learning English and going beyond that to gain new skills and knowledge in the hopes of bettering one’s position in the future, the constant worrying that perhaps all this hard work is in vain and the toll it takes physically / mentally / emotionally, having to deal with racism and discrimination in all its different forms while trying to understand why one’s facial features or the color of one’s skin should matter so much – these are but just a few of the struggles, all experienced at one point or another by the real people described in this book, struggles that many of my family members are also all too familiar with. The struggles, the hardships, the stress of trying to survive, sometimes it is hard not to become disillusioned and disheartened, yet many are willing to endure because compared to what they face in their home countries, this is but a small price to pay in exchange for the freedom that so many of us take for granted. Some of the situations described in the book may seem unfathomable to some people, maybe even “far-fetched” and “unbelievable” that things like that could happen, especially in this day and age, but yet so much of what occurred was indeed authentically recounted -- this I’m sure because I also follow what goes on in those parts of Asia (China and Hong Kong especially) and so I was already familiar with much of the narrative’s backstory. In fact, I was actually surprised (in a good way) to see some of the real-life news stories from that part of the world (such as the 2015 Hong Kong bookseller disappearances for example) mentioned in this book -- this was something I wasn’t expecting but am very appreciative of because of the awareness that it brings, which hopefully leads to much needed understanding on a deeper level…a necessity given the current world we live in.I have so many thoughts about this book and to be honest, for this review, I didn’t even include half of the notes I had written down. To me, this is a book that is hard to do justice with a review because there is just too much worthy of discussion in here. The author Lauren Hilgers is obviously a talented writer and also a compelling storyteller -- there were a few times throughout the book where I actually had to remind myself that I was reading a work of nonfiction rather than a fiction novel and that everyone mentioned in the book – Zhuang, Little Yan, Karen, Tang Yuanjun, etc. – are all real people. As mentioned earlier, this is a story that I absolutely felt a personal connection to and in fact would have liked to see an update of sorts in the author’s note on how each person is doing currently, since a year has passed since the last occurrences described in the book. Also, since Zhuang’s story was about his escape from political persecution in his home country and his efforts to rebuild his life as an asylee in the U.S., it was inevitable that there would be some parts of the narrative related to politics in the book, which is something I tend to stay away from if I can help it. Luckily, Hilgers dealt with the politics piece in a way that wasn’t heavy-handed – in fact, it was more a “side story” in the book, incorporated primarily as background to understanding Zhuang’s story, which I definitely appreciated. With all this said, I feel that this review merely skims the surface and really doesn’t justify how important and necessary a book like this is, especially right now, in our current situation. This is a timely read and one that I absolutely recommend for its honest, authentic portrayal of the Chinese immigrant experience.Received ARC from Crown Publishing via Penguin First-to-Read program.
    more
  • Nancy
    January 1, 1970
    I am so sorry this will be my last Blogging for Books choice as they are discontinuing. I have loved getting print books, which are so much easier on my eyes. I thank them for the 27 books I reviewed over these last years.Journalist Lauren Hilgers was covering a story of Chinese villagers protesting the land-grab by local authorities and demanding democratic rights when she met Zhuang Lienog, son of a fisherman and tea shop owner. When the corrupt local government decided to crack down on protes I am so sorry this will be my last Blogging for Books choice as they are discontinuing. I have loved getting print books, which are so much easier on my eyes. I thank them for the 27 books I reviewed over these last years.Journalist Lauren Hilgers was covering a story of Chinese villagers protesting the land-grab by local authorities and demanding democratic rights when she met Zhuang Lienog, son of a fisherman and tea shop owner. When the corrupt local government decided to crack down on protestors, Zhuang and his wife managed to leave China for Flushing, NY to join a community of Chinese immigrants.Zhuang's story as the activist Patriot Number One and his continuing activist work in America reveals a great deal about the situation in China. At the same time, readers learn about the challenges of immigrant life, finding work and adapting to a new world. Readers get to know Zhuang and his wife Little Yan, their friends and neighbors.As Zhuang continues his protests in America, his Chinese family is targeted as a way of silencing him. Zhuang's commitment to his home village and for democracy truly makes him Patriot Number One.I enjoyed the insight into modern China and the plight of immigrants. The author keeps a journalist's objectivity. This is not a fault, but the story may feel flat to readers used to more emotional bias.
    more
  • Jill Dobbe
    January 1, 1970
    The author spends time in China and while there, befriends a man, Zhuang, who is involved in the politics of Wukan, his hometown, and is labeled as a dissident. He is jailed and once released, finds his way to the U.S. where he hopes to be successful. The account of his life, and that of his wife's, take place in Wukan, China, Flushing, NY, and NYC, as they both take on endless jobs and move to countless apartments, in order to make a good life for their son and themselves.There is a lot going o The author spends time in China and while there, befriends a man, Zhuang, who is involved in the politics of Wukan, his hometown, and is labeled as a dissident. He is jailed and once released, finds his way to the U.S. where he hopes to be successful. The account of his life, and that of his wife's, take place in Wukan, China, Flushing, NY, and NYC, as they both take on endless jobs and move to countless apartments, in order to make a good life for their son and themselves.There is a lot going on in this book. The author follows the political career of Zhuang as he meets up with other Chinese dissidents and continues to protest against Chinese officials. The author writes about the lives of Chinese immigrants and the difficulties they have in getting visas, green cards, finding meaningful work, and learning English. Lastly, Hilgers gives us an account of Zhuang's wife, Little Yan, and how she acclimates to the American lifestyle and pursues various employment, while getting a business degree that she hopes will someday get her a nice desk job.Hilgers' writing has an easy flow that made me feel as though she was sitting across from me telling me the story of Zhuang and Little Yan's life. Her knowledge of the Chinese people, the food, language, and history of China showed itself throughout the book giving me a sense of her loyalty, compassion, and expertise regarding China.I highly recommend this book and thank Net Galley for the opportunity to read and review it.
    more
  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    I won this in a first reads giveawayThis is a fantastic illustration of the modern immigrant experience. The author does a wonderful job of character development and showing how hard it is to start over in a new country where you don't know anyone and have to adjust to a whole new set of customs and social mores.
    more
  • SibylM
    January 1, 1970
    I received a copy of this book from the publisher via their First To Read program, and an honest review was requested. "Patriot Number One" tells the story of Chinese democracy and anti-corruption activist Zhuang Liehong and his wife, Little Yan. For most of the book, the setting switches back and forth between Zhuang's life and activism in China and his emigration to Flushing, Queens and his struggle for legal status and to adapt and thrive in the United States. It is a fascinating story, thoug I received a copy of this book from the publisher via their First To Read program, and an honest review was requested. "Patriot Number One" tells the story of Chinese democracy and anti-corruption activist Zhuang Liehong and his wife, Little Yan. For most of the book, the setting switches back and forth between Zhuang's life and activism in China and his emigration to Flushing, Queens and his struggle for legal status and to adapt and thrive in the United States. It is a fascinating story, though at times frustrating, just like the lead character. At times he makes decisions that seem nonsensical, and his stubbornness and inability to change often place huge burdens on his wife and family.In fact, I found the most interesting people were Little Yan and her friend, Karen. Their issues and dreams for themselves and their families were more gripping than Zhuang's anti-corruption activism in China, at least to me. Overall, this was a beautifully-written and compelling story, and I think it will appeal to many different kinds of readers.
    more
  • Katelyn
    January 1, 1970
    Hilgers tells the true story of a Chinese man, Zhuang Liehong, who escapes to NYC after he helps lead the people of his village, Wukan, in revolt of the government. Leihong and his wife, Little Yan, discover how difficult it is to make it as undocumented, working class immigrants in America. Hilgers follows their daily lives including applying for asylum, and also tells their backstories and the story of Wukan. Powerful, timely and highly readable.
    more
  • Ellen
    January 1, 1970
    I don’t usually read non fiction, but after hearing the author speak at a book event, I was intrigued. This story of Chinese immigrants coming to Flushing, fleeing political persecution on China, is relevant to today’s immigration debate. It was an interesting read, very detailed, but illuminating as to what challenges are presented when trying to understand how to make it in this country.
    more
  • Danielle
    January 1, 1970
    Patriot Number One opens it's readers to the world of Flushings and the people living in its neighborhood who go unnoticed in our society trying to live out the American Dream or more so their version of the American Dream. The American Dream often times is elusive and the stories shared throughout the book seems unattainable and out of reach. With hard work, perseverance, strong will and determination the men and women make of their American Dream by working long hours in jobs they don't necess Patriot Number One opens it's readers to the world of Flushings and the people living in its neighborhood who go unnoticed in our society trying to live out the American Dream or more so their version of the American Dream. The American Dream often times is elusive and the stories shared throughout the book seems unattainable and out of reach. With hard work, perseverance, strong will and determination the men and women make of their American Dream by working long hours in jobs they don't necessarily want, waiting for their green cards, granted asylum etc. all without trying to fall into the entrapment of exploitation that so many immigrants trying to make their way of it fall into. There are current events that many of us do not know about because all of it has been drowned out by other world events that appear in the book. Thanks to Ms. Hilgers she has brought out the injustices to the front so that now we are all aware of what's going on in the world around us even right here in the United States. Patriot Number One instantly draws you in and is a page turner where readers will hold on to every word that is left on the page. This book is of nonfiction, and even though the men and women seem far away through Ms. Hilgers eyes you are able to build a relationship with the character and by the end of the book, you really do know the people Ms. Hilgers is writing about. She has brought to light what so many of us do not hear about on the people in our communities and their struggles and their successes. This book will not let you down but will make you well informed.
    more
  • Meag McKeron
    January 1, 1970
    I found the topic of Patriot Number One to be interesting, since I knew very little about political unrest in China or the struggles of Chinese immigrants in America. Through the story of Zhuang and Little Yan, along with some of their friends and acquaintances in America, readers get a taste of the harsh realities of immigrants struggling to become legal US residents, find work and affordable housing, and learn English. Hilgers does a good job of showing just how different and at times jarring I found the topic of Patriot Number One to be interesting, since I knew very little about political unrest in China or the struggles of Chinese immigrants in America. Through the story of Zhuang and Little Yan, along with some of their friends and acquaintances in America, readers get a taste of the harsh realities of immigrants struggling to become legal US residents, find work and affordable housing, and learn English. Hilgers does a good job of showing just how different and at times jarring the American way of life is for foreigners and how many immigrants are faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve success. The pain of being so far away from family and friends that are still in the midst of political turmoil back in China was also displayed, particularly through Zhuang, a devoted activist who organizes protests and spreads the word about the unrest in his hometown of Wukan while he is in America. Overall, the book did drag a little bit once it hit the halfway point, but it's definitely worth checking out if you want to learn more about the Chinese immigrant experience in the US.**This is a review of the ARC I received through Goodreads Giveaways.
    more
  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    In 2011, journalist Lauren Hilgers reported from a small village located on the southern coast of China. There, villagers had revolted against corrupt local government when it was discovered their farmland was being sold out from under them to real estate developers. The unlikely leader of the rebellion was a fisherman's son named Zhuang Liehong whose activism soon drew the ire of police and government officials. Zhuang knew he needed to escape while he could, before his passport was blacklisted In 2011, journalist Lauren Hilgers reported from a small village located on the southern coast of China. There, villagers had revolted against corrupt local government when it was discovered their farmland was being sold out from under them to real estate developers. The unlikely leader of the rebellion was a fisherman's son named Zhuang Liehong whose activism soon drew the ire of police and government officials. Zhuang knew he needed to escape while he could, before his passport was blacklisted. Together, he and his long-suffering wife, Little Yan traveled to America on a tourist visa. They left their infant son with Little Yan's parents with the intent of sending for them once they were settled in America. Once the pair had defected from the tour, they headed to New York City where Zhuang had researched (via the internet) that Flushing in Queens was the best place for democratically minded Chinese immigrants like him. From there, Hilgers weaves an empathetic, often humorous narrative of life as a modern day immigrant - the struggle to survive, assimilate and find affordable housing and jobs - the reconciliation of dreams and visions to the actuality of a cynical, unwelcoming society. The sensible Little Yan quickly finds mundane jobs for herself and encourages her husband to do the same hoping to establish financial security. Zhuang believes a renowned activist like himself, will receive offers to join the other dissidents living in the community and multiple job opportunities will magically surface. He does indeed befriend Tang Yuanjun, a Tiananmen Square protest leader, and the two are part of a protest at Trump Tower where they experience blowback from Trump supporters asking - why should America care about their problems? All in all it's a marvelous look at today's immigrant dilemma and an argument FOR rather than against, making sure America remains a sanctum for dreamers everywhere.
    more
  • Lesley
    January 1, 1970
    This is an enlightening look at the ordeal of immigrants in the United States, especially those from China. The focus is primarily on Zhuang and his wife, Little Han, and their sometimes rocky road to find a place for themselves while still trying to stay in touch with the protest movement that led them to flee their home. Hilgers also sheds an important light on the oppressive regime and lack of real freedom for the people of China, particularly those from the more rural areas of the country. I This is an enlightening look at the ordeal of immigrants in the United States, especially those from China. The focus is primarily on Zhuang and his wife, Little Han, and their sometimes rocky road to find a place for themselves while still trying to stay in touch with the protest movement that led them to flee their home. Hilgers also sheds an important light on the oppressive regime and lack of real freedom for the people of China, particularly those from the more rural areas of the country. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to better understand the struggle of both the immigrant population of the U.S. and the situation in China, which seems to be growing in power and influence. I received an advanced copy of this book from Penguin’s First to Read program in exchange for an honest review.
    more
  • Laurie
    January 1, 1970
    The author spent six years in China, and had been back in America two years when a contact from her expatriate time phoned her suddenly, saying he would see her soon in New York. This was totally unexpected, although she knew that Zhuang Liehong and his wife, Little Yan, were hoping to escape from China and seek political asylum in the United States. Zhuang was a political activist, seeking to reform the local system in Wukan, the village where he lived. Corruption was rife, and he wanted justic The author spent six years in China, and had been back in America two years when a contact from her expatriate time phoned her suddenly, saying he would see her soon in New York. This was totally unexpected, although she knew that Zhuang Liehong and his wife, Little Yan, were hoping to escape from China and seek political asylum in the United States. Zhuang was a political activist, seeking to reform the local system in Wukan, the village where he lived. Corruption was rife, and he wanted justice for his fellow villagers. Escape was amazingly easy- they managed to get visas to take a tour of some US cities, under the auspices of a tour guide. The hang up was that they had to leave their infant son behind, to make it look like they were coming back. But they hoped to get asylum right away and be able to send for him. They left him with family. New life in the US was not so easy, though. Zhuang did not speak any English, and what English Little Yan knew was rusty. Hilgers went to where she had her laundry done; the woman there gave her some contacts and hints. Soon enough, the couple found that being granted asylum was neither easy nor fast. Without asylum and green cards, they cannot get above-board jobs, so making a living is difficult. Plus, at first Zhuang insists that Little Yan must work at the same place he does, so he can keep an eye on her. And when he gets over that, he goes back to political activism, which eats up a lot of his time. This story alternates with backstory, telling us how and why Zhuang became a man the government of China wanted to keep an eye on. There are some many people that Zhuang and Little Yan interacted with that you practically need a cast of characters. The story can be confusing at times; non-fiction is rarely as smooth and even as novels are. I found the story fascinating; those of us born in the US can barely grasp what difficulties immigrants face when they come here, particularly ones seeking political asylum. Zhuang and Little Yan were lucky because they knew someone in New York, an American who could speak their language, who was willing to devote time to helping them. I recommend this book a lot; it’s highly illuminating of problems both here and in China. Four and a half stars.
    more
  • Jordan
    January 1, 1970
    Patriot Number One is the story of a Chinese man named Zhuang Liehong who ends up in New York after leaving his own Chinese village during political upheaval. The author captures the struggles and trials of living as an undocumented immigrant in America during this time and what Liehong and his wife must do in order to survive. The author writes with much detail, care, and in an incredibly engaging manner. I would highly recommend this book!
    more
  • Jan
    January 1, 1970
    I don't know about you, but I don't think that I could master reading Chinese characters or even do a credible communication in even one of the many dialects. The reverse of this is true for each of the many Chinese immigrants in New York and elsewhere in the English speaking world. This book gives the rest of us a view into Wukan village life and indignities, the government reaction to low level rebellion, the need and process of political asylum seeking, the incredible monetary and emotional c I don't know about you, but I don't think that I could master reading Chinese characters or even do a credible communication in even one of the many dialects. The reverse of this is true for each of the many Chinese immigrants in New York and elsewhere in the English speaking world. This book gives the rest of us a view into Wukan village life and indignities, the government reaction to low level rebellion, the need and process of political asylum seeking, the incredible monetary and emotional costs, and the harsh realities for one courageous man and his wife, their families, friends and neighbors in the years from 2012 to 2017. It is written by an English speaking magazine reporter fluent in Chinese and able to transliterate names, and this chronicling is also documented and footnoted. Follow along with the poorlt educated young man who became Patriot Number One in an effort to dissolve corruption in local and provincial government and work for social justice. He married an educated but introverted young woman, spent time in jail, had a son, and became too problematic for the government. Then began the process of leaving the small son with the grandparents, consolidating his funds, borrowing money from family and friends, planning and executing the move from China (without alerting the government), and then coming as just another immigrant to the Chinese community in Flushing, Queens, New York. Follow along with the tribulations of their living in one small room (which cost as much as a one room apartment in the Midwest), finding trustworthy contacts among the countless strangers, finding employment when unable to understand the language, obtaining political asylum status, working 60 to 70 hours per week, paying taxes and Social Security, and still sending money back to both her parents and his. There are good people and good luck in their lives as well, making this a fascinating but exhausting reading experience. It's also a good insight and reminder to those of us who have parents and grandparents who had similar experiences and also overcame it all.I requested and received a prepublication copy from Net Galley.Don't miss this gem.
    more
  • SundayAtDusk
    January 1, 1970
    Although confusing at times, this book is a somewhat captivating look at what it's like to be a Chinese immigrant in New York; as well as what it's like to protest corrupt government officials in a village in China. Zhuang Liehong helped lead a protest in Wukan, Guangdong province in 2011, but then fled to the United States in 2014, with his wife Little Yan, when he feared being arrested. They left their infant son behind with Little Yan's family, hoping to send for him soon.Author Lauren Hilger Although confusing at times, this book is a somewhat captivating look at what it's like to be a Chinese immigrant in New York; as well as what it's like to protest corrupt government officials in a village in China. Zhuang Liehong helped lead a protest in Wukan, Guangdong province in 2011, but then fled to the United States in 2014, with his wife Little Yan, when he feared being arrested. They left their infant son behind with Little Yan's family, hoping to send for him soon.Author Lauren Hilgers alternates stories about life in Flushings, Queens with stories about life in Wukan Village. In New York, the couple arrive with some savings, but little knowledge of English, and no education or skills that could readily land them jobs. They also had to find a place to live, and begin the process of seeking asylum. Little Yan proved to be the most pragmatic of the two, taking whatever jobs she could land to bring in money for both herself and her husband, as well as money to send home to both of their families. Zhuang, on the other hand, had trouble given up his identity as a prominent protestor, and his hopes about making a living in ways that he most wanted to make a living.Along with their New York experiences are descriptions of their childhoods and lives in China before fleeing. Plus, what is currently going on back in China is explored, especially when the village officials start arresting whoever they wanted, including Zhuang Liehong's father. In 2017, Zhuang would even travel to Florida, with fellow protestors, when Xi Jinping arrived for a meeting with Donald Trump. Finally, there are stories about some of those fellow protestors, as well as an extended one about a Chinese immigrant in New York befriended by Little Yan named Karen. Karen was a young woman on her own trying to acquire a whole new life in the United States, a life she really didn't want in the first place. Yes, this book is quite a collection of characters, events, hopes, dreams and fears. Moreover, it paints a more than adequate picture of what it's like to have one's mind and heart divided between two very different countries.(Note: I received a free ARC of this book from Amazon Vine.)
    more
  • Kimberley
    January 1, 1970
    The story of Zhuang Liehong and Little Yan’s escape from China, and the challenges they faced while navigating their new roles as immigrants in the America, was interesting. Early on, I was captivated by their story and felt empathy for the challenges they faced.That said, I was turned off by the decision to include the stories of others who faced similar—yet uniquely different—problems.I won’t say their stories weren’t important, nor will I say they weren’t compelling—Karen was certainly a woma The story of Zhuang Liehong and Little Yan’s escape from China, and the challenges they faced while navigating their new roles as immigrants in the America, was interesting. Early on, I was captivated by their story and felt empathy for the challenges they faced.That said, I was turned off by the decision to include the stories of others who faced similar—yet uniquely different—problems.I won’t say their stories weren’t important, nor will I say they weren’t compelling—Karen was certainly a woman I felt well-invested in following along the journey of—but such diversions also broke the continuity of the story of Zhuang and Little Yan.If that was by design, then so be it, but it made the reading experience less enjoyable in some ways. Lauren Hilgers clearly wanted to do the everyone’s story justice—having spent so much time researching, reporting, and writing about the struggle of the Chinese village of Wukan—but it was easy to disconnect from the chapters which focused on Wukan’s politics. I just didn’t think such inclusions added to the story of their transition. Honestly, once I was given the background on both Zhuang and Little Yan, there wasn’t a need, in my opinion, to keep going back to the political machinations of Wukan. At times, it was like I was reading a genealogical history of Wukan, through the views and actions of its most persuasive and revolutionary figures—not all of whom were relevant to Zhuang and Little Yan.And while Hilgers obviously wanted to be thorough, going back and forth so much was often a distraction. That made it increasingly difficult for me to remain invested.By the end, my desire to skim was strong and I was ready to be finished with the book altogether.Overall, it’s an interesting story of how tough it can be to come here from another country. The red tape and hoops you’re given are substantial, and you’re really at the mercy of humanity to make things happen. This was simply a snapshot of those challenges.
    more
  • Viva
    January 1, 1970
    Very well written and easy to read. Despite a someone niche topic, the writing drew me in right away. There is a mixture of Chinese history and contemporary Chinese immigrant experience. The author did a great job of portraying the two main characters, Zhuang Liehong and his wife Little Yan. I really felt I was with them both in their quest for asylum. It was also a good look at modern China. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the Chinese immigrant experience and anything Chines Very well written and easy to read. Despite a someone niche topic, the writing drew me in right away. There is a mixture of Chinese history and contemporary Chinese immigrant experience. The author did a great job of portraying the two main characters, Zhuang Liehong and his wife Little Yan. I really felt I was with them both in their quest for asylum. It was also a good look at modern China. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the Chinese immigrant experience and anything Chinese.I got this book as a free ARC.
    more
  • Dong Han
    January 1, 1970
    This is one of my favorite non-fiction reads. This story of a Chinese family who seeks asylum in the United States, while highly personalized and deeply characterized, touches on universal themes of freedom, the meaning of family, immigrant striving, and the American dream. Reading this book humanized the bits and pieces you or I would read in the news about Chinese politics and shines a light on the story of Wukan village which deserves its proper telling in history. Highly highly recommend!
    more
  • Rhonda Lomazow
    January 1, 1970
    Lauren Hilgers has written a fascinating engrossing look at immigrants the desire for the American experience family traditions .Drew me in from the first pages reads like a novel very timely book for today’s political climate.Highly recommend.Thanks @[email protected] for advanced readers copy.
    more
  • books4life
    January 1, 1970
    inspirational an catches what the american dream means for Chinese immigrants perfectly
Write a review