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Reviewed by Foluso Falaye for Readers' Favorite
Echoes from Wuhan depicts the immersive story of a young American woman who traveled to Wuhan for a teaching job. At the time she left for China, Gretchen Dykstra was one of the 100 Americans the Chinese hired to teach English in colleges around the country. From 1979 to 1981, Gretchen lived and worked, made friends, and experienced the different norms and distinct culture of the Chinese. Feeling at home in her new environment proved to be a difficult challenge as she kept discovering new rules and different actions that were frowned upon. From having to lie about getting married to receiving a Chinese name and seeing an elderly woman's bound feet, follow the different challenges and beautiful moments Gretchen experienced in Wuhan as she spins a riveting memoir around culture, education, politics, and history.
What an experience! Echoes from Wuhan is such a vivid and detailed narrative that I felt like I lived through the three years Gretchen Dykstra stayed in Wuhan with her. I now know so much more about China and a particular time than before, like the fact that Chinese characters have both sounds and meanings and several different tones, unlike the English alphabet. Prepare to meet several interesting characters, like Li Min—who "had a refined manner and a subtle sense of style." Echoes from Wuhan reveals how we all have the same basic human values at the core of our beings, no matter our differences, through an adroit mixture of humor, detailed information, and several dramatic and captivating events. If you wish to completely lose your sense of self and experience the reality of living in a different time and place, you should definitely read Echoes from Wuhan.