SPLITTINGAND CELEBRATINGTHE DIFFERENCES
Jean Lins poems tell the story
of her Chinese-American marriage and family
Breathing Rice is the touching and humorous story of an intercultural romance that has not only survived but thrived through the years on its differences. The story, told in narrative poems, unfolds in the early 1970s at the University of Florida, when an American coed named Jean met Peter, a graduate student from Taiwan. Jean and Peter fell in love, then came to love each others customs and countries as well.
This romance happened at a time when marriages between Chinese and Americans was relatively rareespecially in the southern United States. Nevertheless their courtship grew into a marriage, thus celebrating the charm and challenge of uniting two very different cultures.
Following the trajectory of their life together, author Jean Lin has divided her book, Breathing Rice, into four sections. Splitting the Differences covers the early years of the romance, including their meeting (Jean was trying to find a boyfriend for a Chinese friend), the somewhat shaky introduction of the two families, and the early adjustments to marriage, when differences of food, language, and unfamiliar customs caused frequent laughter as well as a few tears.
Part two, The J Generation, chronicles the making of an extended family of grandparents, aunts, unclesand many cousins who, following a Chinese tradition, all have names starting with the same letter. The two Js born of Peter and Jeans marriage bear testimony of love in this biracial family.
Up Against the Wall finds the families exploring China and Taiwan together, meeting more family members who have never left China but who welcomed their new American relatives with open arms and sumptuous banquets.