Girls on the Line

Girls on the Line

A teen pregnancy puts two orphan girls in contemporary China on a collision course with factory bosses, family planning regulators, and a bride trafficker....

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Title:Girls on the Line
Author:Jennie Liu
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Girls on the Line Reviews

  • Joanne O'Sullivan

    Opening a window into a world few outsiders know, Girls on The Line humanizes the struggle faced by girls raised in a Chinese orphanage. As they navigate a world that doesn’t value them, Luli and Yun find their futures are anything but secure, but their strength is limitless. A fast-paced, must read!

  • TJL

    Pretty good!

    More than anything else I was interested in the way the author subtly addressed the consequences of spending your whole childhood in an orphanage. They've done studies on how children who are raised in residential facilities are affected by the lack of one-on-one attention and affection and bonding that they would receive elsewhere, with parents, extended family, or foster families.

    Yun was a great example of that: Not a sociopath by any means, but she clearly has trouble bonding with

    Pretty good!

    More than anything else I was interested in the way the author subtly addressed the consequences of spending your whole childhood in an orphanage. They've done studies on how children who are raised in residential facilities are affected by the lack of one-on-one attention and affection and bonding that they would receive elsewhere, with parents, extended family, or foster families.

    Yun was a great example of that: Not a sociopath by any means, but she clearly has trouble bonding with others and empathy. Won't spoil it, but the author really does a great job showing where her disconnect is by contrasting her POV with Luli's.

  • Christina

    Jennie Liu certainly jumped in with both feet with her debut Girls on the Line, a tense and emotionally evocative novel about a two factory workers in a small Chinese city struggling against vast bureaucratic and criminal forces.

    This is a surprisingly fast-paced tale, starting on day one of Luli's job at a factory the produces charger cables. Luli is an orphan joining her friend Yun, who secured her a place, but who doesn't actually seem to have time to help her learn the ropes. Yun is more int

    Jennie Liu certainly jumped in with both feet with her debut Girls on the Line, a tense and emotionally evocative novel about a two factory workers in a small Chinese city struggling against vast bureaucratic and criminal forces.

    This is a surprisingly fast-paced tale, starting on day one of Luli's job at a factory the produces charger cables. Luli is an orphan joining her friend Yun, who secured her a place, but who doesn't actually seem to have time to help her learn the ropes. Yun is more interested in her boyfriend, who may or may not be a human trafficker, a man who steals "brides" from the city to deliver to men in the country. Is Yun actually his girlfriend? Or is she about to be another victim?

    Yun disappears, but this isn't a detective story. The book is written in alternating perspectives, so we always know where Yun is and what she's up to. It's not a problem, but the dust jacket blurb is a little misleading. Luli does still go to titanic lengths to reunite with her, but it's not so simple as rescue or derring-do. It's a much more complex tale of the ways in which we negotiate the burdens, joys, and very definitions of family.

    It's also, almost necessarily, an utterly heartbreaking look at the intersection between policy and poverty. Most people know about China's one-child limit, but the reality is far more complicated, as Girls on the Line explores. Fees to have a baby in a hospital and register the child are exorbitant, many times the annual salary of a factory worker. When people cannot pay these fees, this creates non-citizens of a sort, children born in China to Chinese parents but lacking the official paperwork that would make them people in the eyes of the state. They lack access to schools, healthcare, and other services, and cannot get legitimate jobs.

    But many legitimate citizens are no better off. Cycles of poverty and abuse are rampant regardless of official status. The book is not necessarily a critique of any one system; it wants to shine a light on the ways that all systems interact to create impossible choices for those in dire straits. Sympathy for individuals is the real heart of this book, with judgement reserved. Everyone is just looking to survive, and Liu honors that drive even as she sheds light on how it can be twisted into selfishness and indifference.

    I would have actually liked some more meditations about working in a factory, or just more about the girls' internal lives. This isn't to say that the characters don't have depth, since the action reveals psychological scars and deep yearings, but I wanted to know more about the texture of their feelings. Sometimes things are more profound when set in stark relief, like the blunt way Yun tells Luli that the children will have nothing to eat if they don't feed them the porridge that has spilled on the floor. But other aspects are muted by the brevity and external focus. Yun spends a good deal of time with a mother-type figure, but what must a confusing experience for her is glossed over as the plot barrels on.

    The most complete picture is of the orphanage, a tragic result of people with too little money, too little education, and too little time for each child. Caretakers strap disabled children to boards in order to stop them from moving, and enlist even the youngest able-bodied children to care for them. There is no stimulation or engagement. Barely able to provide food, these hardened caretakers cannot fathom providing emotional support, and as a result, both Luli and Yun are wounded in ways that do not immediately show.

    Yet they still care for each other. And they find others willing to offer care and compassion, girls at the factory and women in the countryside. Women are amazing. Women helping women are amazing. But this is not a feel-good story. No one has a moment of explicitly feminist triumph over the system or receives a life-changing windfall. Everyone very clearly has their own problems, and the people at cross purposes must compromise with broken hearts, not open ones. Nobody takes up a sword and starts yelling about revolution. They just do what they can with what they have available, and hope that it's enough.

    This will not be posted on Geeklyinc.com until 1 week prior to pub date

  • Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)

    provides a really gritty look inside the lives of two young Chinese women, one of whom is fresh out of the orphanage and navigating the world on her own for the first time, and one who has some experience on the outside but finds herself facing difficult choices. It's a really powerful story that touches on a lot of tough topics, especially for young women in China. Just

    provides a really gritty look inside the lives of two young Chinese women, one of whom is fresh out of the orphanage and navigating the world on her own for the first time, and one who has some experience on the outside but finds herself facing difficult choices. It's a really powerful story that touches on a lot of tough topics, especially for young women in China. Just to name a few, we have:

    When Yun finds herself pregnant in a country that's incredibly unsupportive of unwed pregnant women (sound familiar?), the choices she faces are all pretty much undesirable ones. Interestingly, the government in this case was all about abortion- they just didn't want to be the ones to pay for it. So when a girl like Yun, with no family, no money, no support needs to make these choices... well you can imagine the struggle.

    Here's a shocker: Yun's boyfriend is actual garbage. And Yun... man, she is not at the point where she's ready to come to terms with it. It is a really honest look into abusive relationships- both from the angle of the person 

    the relationship, and from people who care about her on the outside.

    This was pretty much a huge plot point of the story, and I loved it. I don't want to get into it 

    much, because I want you to read about it for yourselves, but it really explores this female friendship, how it can be tested, to the point of potentially breaking, and how (and if) to rebuild. Powerful stuff that we don't see enough in fiction honestly.

    Luli's story is very much about finding her own agency. She's been an orphan, yes, but there was always 

    acting as an advocate for her. First, the orphanage, and then even after, Yun. But what happens when Luli herself must rise up? It's an incredible look into coming of age, figuring out who you want to be.

    The writing and dialogue felt a but simplistic at times, and that was probably my only real negative about the story. Oh, and do yourself a favor and read the author's note at the end. It explains so much about her inspiration for the story, and some of the facts.

    A very powerful and incredibly relevant story. One worth reading, no question.

  • USOM

    (Disclaimer: I received this free book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

    In the aftermath of the One Child Policy, there is a shortage of women combined with society's preferences for boys. Not only did this leave China with many girls for adoption, but now a gender imbalance. Because of this, there has been a rise of bride trafficking and the value of baby girls as future brides. Enter Girls on the Line which followers two orphan girls as they leave t

    (Disclaimer: I received this free book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

    In the aftermath of the One Child Policy, there is a shortage of women combined with society's preferences for boys. Not only did this leave China with many girls for adoption, but now a gender imbalance. Because of this, there has been a rise of bride trafficking and the value of baby girls as future brides. Enter Girls on the Line which followers two orphan girls as they leave the orphanage and make their way into the workforce. In this new world of financial freedom (especially without a family to send earnings to), and factory labor, Luli and Yun lead different lives.

    full review:

  • Chrissie Morrison

    If you are anything like me, it sometimes adds a little perspective about your own life and/or problems when you read a book about people with completely different circumstances.  Take the main characters in this story, Luli and Yun, for example.  After growing up in a Chinese orphanage and never having been adopted, these young women must find their own way in the world.  Rather than staying on at the orphanage, where they would continue to care for the younger children, they both left and foun

    If you are anything like me, it sometimes adds a little perspective about your own life and/or problems when you read a book about people with completely different circumstances.  Take the main characters in this story, Luli and Yun, for example.  After growing up in a Chinese orphanage and never having been adopted, these young women must find their own way in the world.  Rather than staying on at the orphanage, where they would continue to care for the younger children, they both left and found factory work.  Luli seemed to think the meager wages, long work hours, and a bed in a dormitory would be good enough as long as she could be with her life-long friend Yun.  But, she didn't realize Yun, who has established herself a bit before Luli showed up, would be so single-mindedly focused on her boyfriend.  Matters got even worse when Yun discovered that she was pregnant and a mutual friend tried to warn Luli that Yun's boyfriend might actually be a "bride trafficker"...

    It has been established that reading is an excellent way to develop empathy and to work on emotional intelligence.  And reading works of fiction is a fairly easy way for young people to "meet" people from different places and cultures.  So, you don't even have to leave the comfort of your own home to see how different your life could have been if, for example, you were suddenly expected to graduate from an orphanage and find your way into adulthood without any family to fall back on.  This story did a great job highlighting the struggles stemming from China's one child policy -- from high abortion rates, to abandoned baby girls, to an increased risk for human trafficking.  And while it's terrifying to realize that this is not a dystopian fantasy but rather the actual reality faced by many young girls and women in China today, perhaps a greater awareness of what is going on around the world can lead to advances in diplomacy and work toward policy change.

    Happy Reading!

  • Patty Smith

    Many thanks to Netgalley, Carolrodha and Jennie Liu for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are 100% my own and independent of receiving an advanced copy.

    Luli has turned 16 and is turned out from the orphanage where she spent most of her life. She is off to the big city to meet up with her friend, Yun, who left the year before. Yun has a factory job and has promised to help Luli find a job and get settled. Although it is backbreaking work, it is better than staying to work at th

    Many thanks to Netgalley, Carolrodha and Jennie Liu for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are 100% my own and independent of receiving an advanced copy.

    Luli has turned 16 and is turned out from the orphanage where she spent most of her life. She is off to the big city to meet up with her friend, Yun, who left the year before. Yun has a factory job and has promised to help Luli find a job and get settled. Although it is backbreaking work, it is better than staying to work at the orphanage looking after the babies. Luli can see how much Yun has changed in the one year since she left the orphanage. She has a stylish haircut, new clothes, disposable cash and a boyfriend. Luli learns that Yun’s boyfriend is bad news. He might be involved in trafficking women. Luli tried to warn her friend, but Yun doesn’t believe it. Soon Yun finds herself pregnant, alone and discovers that what people have been saying about her boyfriend is true. But she needs him to help pay for the abortion. The one child policy and the fact that she is unmarried, will make it impossible for her to keep the baby. At 16, she doesn’t want the responsibility. She is only just starting her life. Luli want to help her friend but how can she support her terminating the pregnancy or even worse, having the baby and giving it to the orphanage. The book explores the topics of family, friendship, coming of age, love, unwanted pregnancy and the One Child Policy in China through though the lives of these tow young girls as they navigate life on their own.

    I have mixed feelings towards this novel. I thought that it did an amazing job of illustrating how difficult life can be in China. Being an orphan is tough. Having to support yourself at 16 is even harder. Getting pregnant at 16, with no family and having to make very tough decisions seems almost impossible. But when you explore these issues through the lens of another culture it really is eye opening. I had heard about the One Child policy, but I never considered what that entailed. I was very aware of the fact that girls were being abandoned, or worse killed, in order to have the “preferred” sons. I was also aware that it created a gender imbalance that has had huge ramifications for that society. I did not realize that if you did have a secret second baby they would not be considered a citizen and therefore wouldn’t be able to go to school or find a job. I was mildly aware of the deplorable conditions in the orphanages, but Liu brings to light so many issues that I hadn’t considered. She also did a great job of examining difficult issues through the lens of another culture. There were so many things in the story that made me feel if you were unlucky enough to be a pregnant orphan at 16, you were still way better off to be in North America. The. backbreaking work in the factory, being fined for having a baby that would take you most of your life to pay back, the prejudices against anyone outside of the norm makes for a very oppressive life.

    There were a few things that didn’t work for me. One was the alternating chapters between Yun and Luli. This didn’t work for me at all. I find it disrupted the story and the transitions were awkward, even jarring, at times. The biggest downside for me was the language. I’m not sure why but the best way I can explain it is that it seemed too simplistic. It almost felt like a translation. I don’t think it did the story any justice. It kept bothering me as I was reading and it took me out of the story. I’m not referring to the dialogue between characters. However, the structure was sound and the events flowed nicely. Overall, I think this was an important story to tell and I would recommend it to others.

  • Brandi

    3.5, this was my second read of the year and it was far from bad. It just wasn’t exactly what I was going for. Though I would still recommend this to anyone, it really is educational and I learned things I never knew about China and the child laws etc. I definitely want to learn more and become more aware of what it was like.

    If you’re looking for an educational, diverse and unique way of doing so told in 2 perspectives this is the read for you!

  • Alicia

    Liu's topic is one that is riveting yet the density of the writing makes it harder to read than I would have liked. The choice to have dual narrators does help move the story along and the perspectives help provide an understanding of the devastation that the one child policy had in addition to the cultural stigma of females and those children who were disabled had. The book also showcases the horrific working conditions, especially of these young girls abandoned and raised in orphanages if not

    Liu's topic is one that is riveting yet the density of the writing makes it harder to read than I would have liked. The choice to have dual narrators does help move the story along and the perspectives help provide an understanding of the devastation that the one child policy had in addition to the cultural stigma of females and those children who were disabled had. The book also showcases the horrific working conditions, especially of these young girls abandoned and raised in orphanages if not captured and sold to the countryside as brides. These factories are soulless.

    Again, while the topics are important, I wanted a thriftier plot that allowed readers to feel rather than hear about everything that was happening to the girls and how easily they fall prey.

  • Julie

    This was an incredibly gripping story, in part because of how short it is, so I read the whole thing in one sitting. I enjoyed the writing and was curious to see how the story would turn out. I'd never read something addressing China's former One Child Policy, and this is set in 2009, so it was fascinating to read about the intricacies of it.

    I finished the book and was a little bothered by how open the ending was, but the more I sit with it, the more bothered I am. There's absolutely a place fo

    This was an incredibly gripping story, in part because of how short it is, so I read the whole thing in one sitting. I enjoyed the writing and was curious to see how the story would turn out. I'd never read something addressing China's former One Child Policy, and this is set in 2009, so it was fascinating to read about the intricacies of it.

    I finished the book and was a little bothered by how open the ending was, but the more I sit with it, the more bothered I am. There's absolutely a place for open endings, but this book wasn't that place. There was no resolution in the character arcs for either main character and it left off in kind of a terrible place for both of them. The longer I'm away from it, the more disappointed I am. I hope it wasn't left like that in the final edition, as I read an ARC.

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