Cover Image: Broken Wings

Broken Wings

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This was a very poignant story based on real events. It deals with the very crucial topic of human exploitation and trafficking of young girls. At times the dialogue seemed very robotic and without real emotion and depth, but part of that can be attributed to the translation of the original works.  For the forward and epilogue also provide some light into how this story unfolded and explains how it is based on real events which is heartbreaking and give real cadence to the story line. Highly recommended that those explanations are read first prior to undertaking the book. The author does a great job of guiding you slowly to each idea but leaves enough vagueness so that you can try to maneuver her fears, struggles and psychological attempts to deal with her reality. It is a slow build and many people struggle with that writing style however for me, it added to the realism. The culture and some of the ingrained biases and resistance to change and subsequently help are also very well laid out and explained. All in a all a beautiful but heartbreaking story which doesn't tell you how to feel but allows you to personalize and navigate this tragedy.
Was this review helpful?
I would like to thank the Netgalley website and ACA Publishing for this partnership.

I was immediately attracted by the cover of this book, it shows the beautiful Butterfly in profile. Nice title of the book where butterflies fly away.

It all starts when Butterfly is offered a fruitful job, she doesn't say no. Except that she is sold to a man and will end up a prisoner in a poor village in the mountains. She's trapped and will have to refuse the advances of her executioner. She will do everything she can to try to escape but it's difficult when you don't let go of her. Will she survive?

A novel read in one go, so much so that I found the story so moving at certain passages, captivating, full of suspense and twists and turns with the character of Butterfly very endearing.
Was this review helpful?
Imagine going into a team building escape room, but then fighting for your life!  That is exactly what happened in this book.  Will the four wall street employees who's careers hang in the balance due to bad deals, be able to solve the puzzle in time to get out of the escape room alive?  I'm not going to tell you! But you should definitely read this to find out.  While all the characters were highly unlikeable and you could see why they were put in this situation, you will not be able to put this down, as time counts down and you are on the edge of your seat wondering what happens next. Great debut!
Was this review helpful?
I really wanted to like this novel, especially as it covers the important issue of human trafficking, but I struggled to read it. A lot of things got a bit "lost in translation" and the writing was detached (especially in regards of the rape), which made me not engage and invest that much in the characters and the story. I also found the book a bit confusing at times. I suspect that if I was able to read Chinese, I would probably like the book a lot more than I did.
Was this review helpful?
Broken Wings tackles a heavy and important topic- human trafficking. This is a topic I am passionate about (and volunteer with anti-human tracking organizations in Canada) so I went in with high hopes. Ultimately, this wasn’t the novel for me. I found the writing style detached (unsure if on purpose, result of translation or a cultural difference in styles) which made it very hard for me to feel for the characters and become invested in the story. At the same time, too much detail was given about mundane daily tasks, when I was craving more details about the emotional journey of Butterfly. Overall, an important topic, but the style was not a fit for me but am sure others will appreciate it. 

Thank you to #Netgalley and ACA Publishing for an ARC in exchange for my hones review.
Was this review helpful?
A moving read and a very well written book, despite the problems I had with characters' names. The story itself was absolutely heartbreaking, particularly with the knowledge that it was based on a true story. I found "Broken Wings" to be a thought-provoking and engaging read which was, for me, very worthwhile.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel, at my own request, from the publisher via NetGalley. This review is my own unbiased opinion.
Was this review helpful?
BROKEN WINGS by Jia Pingwa is a devastating, novel with a hard topic. Somehow I felt enlightened after. I really enjoyed this read but it is not a light read. Make sure you have some time to sit down and get into it.
Was this review helpful?
I knew this book will break my heart, but I was up to challenge. It was such a moving, breathtaking acting and story line that I would say - I found a gem. The book will make you reevaluate things and enjoy the plot that much more! I cried. I fell the character and the authors message. It was a moving book to read. Very memorable!
Was this review helpful?
Oh my God! this book is such a moving read.
And it opens up another world that one can't imagine exists even now. But the book brings about such a drastic depiction of this little village hidden away in some remote corner of the world and the practices and rituals of its people.
An absolutely well written, and well translated, book.
Was this review helpful?
I was thinking I'd be able to read this book. I wanted to, but the sexual scenes were graphic and triggered my PTSD. So, I out it down for now, and maybe I'll beable to at another time. That being said from what I did read, I don't think it translated all that well. I think some will beable to empathize with this story, but it is a heartbreaking one. However it also brings awareness to a big problem in Rural China that I hope can be addressed.

I would like to thank netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy free of charge. This is my honest and unbiased opinion of it.
Was this review helpful?
Human trafficking lies at the center of this novel, and because of that, I expected a powerful story that shines a light on this deplorable industry. Unfortunately, whether because of lack of narrative push or cultural differences in writing style, I found myself disinterested in the story for vast segments. The beginning and ending were fairly engaging, but the middle was mostly a slog. It seemed like isolated events strung together between a beginning and an end. The main character, Butterfly, is kidnapped and sold as a wife to a bachelor in a rural village in China. The villagers live in caves, and the woman is held captive in one of these caves until she has accepted her new life. Ultimately, the kidnapped woman acts mostly as a portal through which we are exposed to village life in rural China. The novel reads more as a fictional anthropological study about life in poor rural China than a thriller or drama. I felt the best part of the book was the afterword that gave the book more cultural and socioeconomic context.
Was this review helpful?
Evening, I made my one hundred and seventy-eighth scratch on the cave wall.
Despite her humble rural beginnings, Butterfly regards herself as a sophisticated young woman. So, when offered a lucrative job in the city, she jumps at the chance.
But instead of being given work, she is trafficked and sold to Bright Black, a desperate man from a poor mountain village.
Trapped in Bright's cave home with her new "husband", she plans her escape… not so easily done in this isolated and remote village where she is watched day and night.
Will her tenacity and free spirit survive, or will she be broken? 

China’s one child policy has resulted in a gender imbalance as more male children than female children were born; now young men are having difficulty finding wives.  Apparently bride kidnapping has recently resurfaced in some parts of China.  In many cases, women are kidnapped and sold to men in poorer regions of the country.  This is what happens to Butterfly.  In an afterword, the author mentions that her story is based on what happened to the daughter of a neighbour in his home village.  
This was very interesting to read for me but did take some patience for me to get into though.
There's a great bunch of characters and a very strong young lady.
It is also heartbreaking to know that this story was inspired by a true account.
Recommend reading.

My thanks to ACA Publishing for an ARC via NetGalley. This is my own honest voluntary review.
Was this review helpful?
I liked this book. I especially loved the afterward at the end that explained how the book came to be and what it was based on. You really feel like you know Butterfly as the book goes on and understand why she does and is doing what she does.
Was this review helpful?
I currently live in China and my students have told me about Jia Pingwa and his books. I had never had a chance to read a book by him until now. I would like to thank the publisher and Netgalley for giving me this ARC, but I would like to add that all opinions are my own.

I think that for someone who is unfamiliar with either Chinese literature or Chinese culture that they would have a lot of problems with this book. To start off the naming situation would be quite difficult for some foreigners, but the thing to remember that they are using a literal translation of their name in Chinese. Chinese people usually have a name that reflect some sort of quality or wish that their parents would like them to have. It would be like if they translated our names to be the literal meaning in a book so the main character would be "Blessed by God" and his girlfriend would be "Raven haired" or something like that. 

Also, it was mentioned before and I agree that the author's note at the end should be a forward instead. It explains so much to the reader in terms of the translation, the work itself, and where the story came from. It will make the story clearer yet for the Western audience.

And in case you are mystified by some of the things that occur in this novel. My students have told me of similar traditions and events such as the ones in the novels, so the author is giving a fairly accurate portrayal of the life that people in these villages probably have.

All the things that happen to the main character, Butterfly, are absolutely heart breaking and the ending is going to confound most of its foreign audience where the emphasis on family and the next generation isn't as strong of a cultural factor as it is in China. I also feel a bit bad about saying this, but I would not recommend this as a first foray into Chinese literature. It would be better for someone who has already read a few novels and are familiar with some of the different things happening in the culture and the style of Chinese authors. However, this book does discuss a very serious subject that does need more light shed upon it. 

I do hope that more people read this book, but I acknowledge that it will not be for everyone. I will be posting a review on my blog for this novel at a later date this week.
Was this review helpful?
Twenty-year-old Butterfly is kidnapped and taken to a remote village to be the wife of Bright Black, a farmer/shopkeeper who keeps her captive in his cave home.  All the villagers are complicit because they know how she came to be in the village and are aware of her imprisonment.  Narrated by Butterfly, the novel focuses on her struggles with her situation; she is determined to find a way to escape or be rescued.

China’s one child policy has resulted in a gender imbalance as more male children than female children were born; now young men are having difficulty finding wives.  Apparently bride kidnapping has recently resurfaced in some parts of China.  In many cases, women are kidnapped and sold to men in poorer regions of the country.  This is what happens to Butterfly.  In an afterword, the author mentions that her story is based on what happened to the daughter of a neighbour in his home village.  

Obviously, the reader will feel sympathy for Butterfly.  She is tricked and taken far away from her mother, her only family.  When the book opens, she has been held 178 days.  The villagers come and gawk at her, but no one helps her since capturing a bride seems to be an accepted practice.  Bright Black is not the only one who has purchased an abducted woman because “there were plenty of men in the village and a dozen or more were wifeless, ‘bare branches’ as they were called.”  There is a strong desire to continue the family line:  “Bright’s dad was scared stiff that his son would never marry . . . and the family would die out.”  It is expected, therefore, that Butterfly is raped so she can ensure the continuation of the Black family.  

Butterfly is brutalized but it is obvious that the author also wants the reader to have some sympathy for Bright as well.  He is not totally evil.  There are several instances of his caring and compassion for Butterfly.  He buys special food for her such as steamed wheat buns; “There were always plenty of soybeans left, and I knew he’d saved them for me.”  When Butterfly is experiencing great pain, Bright says, “’I won’t say anything, you scream and swear all you like if it makes it hurt less.’”  In the Afterword, the author writes about the “barbarous practice of snatching women” but he also bemoans that “The recent transformation of China has led to the biggest migration of people from the countryside to the city in history. . . . In remote backward areas, the men who lack the ability, the skills or the funds to leave, are left behind in the villages to scratch a living on the land.  They have no possibility of marrying. . . . no one mentions the fact that the cities have plundered wealth, labour power and women from the villages.  No one talks about the men left behind in the wastelands to wither like gourds on the frame, flowering once, then dying fruitless.”

The book is written in a detached, unemotional style which is unusual and unexpected because Butterfly is the narrator.  Her emotions, for example, are not described in great detail.  When she is raped, she has an out-of-body experience; her spirit leaves her body and she describes only what she sees being done to Butterfly.  The author explains that he cannot write “violent, extreme narratives” and, instead, compares his writing to “ink-wash paintings” whose essence lies in “the ‘suggestion’ rather than the detail.”  

There are many minor characters, most of whom are known by their nicknames:  Blindy is Bright’s blind uncle; a stutterer is called Tongue-Trip; and a woman who suffers from acne is addressed as Auntie Spotty-Face.  These names often seem callous and offensive.  


The character who seems most respected is Great-Grandad who tries to teach Butterfly to make the best of her situation.  He advises her to “’Just pick out the good [beans]’” and tells her, “’if you treasure something precious, it’ll last longer than plastic, wood or iron.’”  He always tries to see the positive; when a man is teased that he can’t see heaven, Great-Grandad says, “’Well, heaven’s looking at him.’”  
Over time, Butterfly seems to adopt Great-Grandad’s attitude because she makes observations like “it was only by meeting people halfway that you could grab an opportunity and gain some momentum from it, and then everything went easy” and “The stones anchoring the fleeceflower root stayed put – they couldn’t grow roots or wings, they just got covered in muddy water but they didn’t complain, did they?”  

There are sections of the book where focus is placed on things that seem irrelevant.  For instance, Butterfly mentions that she has learned how to make corn pudding and then describes the process in great detail; the making of buckwheat noodles follows; and then there’s a lengthy section describing the many ways potatoes are eaten.  Surely all of this information is not needed just to show that she is adapting to life in the village?

This book did not always keep my interest.  The dispassionate style just doesn’t feel natural given the subject matter.  Dialogue sounds robotic and there are even strange non-sequiturs:  “Then, after Padlock’s wife got stung to death by hornets, Good-Son made up his mind to leave and get a labouring job in the city.”  What’s the connection between the death of one man’s wife and another man’s decision to leave the village for the city?  

Jia Pingwa is apparently one of China’s most popular writers, so I looked forward to reading this book.  Unfortunately, though it addresses an important issue, the novel is not a compelling read.

Note:  I received a digital galley of the book from the publisher via NetGalley.
Was this review helpful?
This book confused me at first. It's worth a read! I became invested in the story but not so much the characters.
Was this review helpful?
I had really high hopes for Broken Wings by Jia Pingwa after reading the description. Unfortunately, my hopes were dashed. I should preface this by saying I did not complete the book. Which is something I try really hard to do. Let's face it how many books have we read the first couple of chapters and been like "Ugh I can't read this any more" and then all of the sudden you can't put it down. I really had that hope for this book but I just couldn't.

I feel like the author was overly descriptive. He gave so much information that it became confusing if what I was reading was a "flashback" or was currently happening. I also felt like I couldn't separate the "kidnapper" from "Butterfly" their flashbacks and what was currently happening was so entwined that sometimes you thought you were reading about Butterfly and then realized that you were reading about the kidnapper. 

This book was a book translated from Chinese and Jia Pingwa is one of the biggest names in Chinese Literature. So I'm sure that some of my issues with the book had to do with some of it being lost in translation. The best translators in the world are unable to capture the thoughts and feelings behind another person's words weather they be spoken or written. That is nothing against the translator as you would literally have to be in that persons brain to be able to do that and no one can. 

I give this book 1/5 stars  ⭐ 

Broken Wings is available May 3, 2019

Thank you to Jia Pingwa, Alain Charles Asia Publishing,  and Netgalley for the advanced digital copy for my Kindle!
Was this review helpful?
1.5 stars 

The translation of this book was really bad. I don't know if there wasn't proper translation for the context, but it came across almost unreadable in English. There were many graphic sexual scenes  including rape. A lot of the dialogue came across very unnatural and I believe with the cultural differences it was too hard to translate properly over to English. The chapters were extremely long and over all was very hard for me to get through and I didn't really enjoy reading unfortunately.
Was this review helpful?
A very interesting story about real problems in China. It's a little slow in the beginning, but gets better, so please hang in there. There's a great bunch of characters, just like in real life, and you will get to know a very strong young lady.
Was this review helpful?
I honestly wanted to like this book given that the subject was something I'm into. However, it just felt kinda disjointed. Maybe it was due to the translation and something was lost.
Was this review helpful?