If you’re looking for a widely entertaining, richly written story that combines international travel, family, and inspiration for stepping outside of your comfort zone, Awakening East is your read.  Ms. Garton takes us on a literary adventure through a series of life-changing experiences, all connected beautifully through humor and the deep love she has for her family.  China itself is one of the major characters in this book, which you will meet in a richly personal way through a daring year of embracing life outside of America.  While the conduit for this adventure is based on her children’s adoption stories, anyone with a sense of awe for dashing into the unknown via travel will relish this ride.

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Awakening East is told in such an authentic and raw way that I cried several times, relating to the struggles with parenting, the balance between adventure and stability, and how to define one's own cultural identity amidst a sea of competing values. Garton has given us a gift with this story, as we are allowed a glimpse into a unique, cherished and inspiring experience.

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Garton holds nothing back in this moving, candid memoir. The story of her family's journey across the world is one that many people will relate to, even if they've never set foot in Asia. It was compelling, sometimes shocking, and often hilarious. This is a memorable read for anyone interested in adoption, travel, China, or parenthood in general.

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A compassionate story about a determined mother's struggle to provide her adopted children in-depth exposure to their ethnicity by moving her family to China. This book highlights the triumphs, the joy, personal growth and stressors of such an undertaking.  Highly recommended for families who have adopted internationally.

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Relocating to China for a year with her husband, Ernie, son Will, age eight, and daughter Eden, age four, Garton recounts her quest to immerse her family in the culture of the children’s birthplace and perhaps glean more details of their first year of life. An honest and brave book. A heart-opening read.

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I laughed and cried my way through Awakening East.  Johanna Garton uses her personal and family journeys to capture the depth of emotion and meaning that accompany the various stages of growing a family through adoption.  Garton will inspire all parents through her candid and humorous account of the love and endurance that carried her family through the ups and downs of living for a year in China.  It’s a must read for any parents challenged to think outside the box when dealing with issues unique to adoption.

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It's likely you either have to be naive or crazy to drag your family to live a year in China. Maybe both. Johanna Garton fits the bill perfectly, with a wonderful optimism and willingness to try that ends up putting her family of four well outside the familiar confines of Denver, Colorado, and even outside the relatively comfortable expat outposts of Beijing and Shanghai. Framed through the stories of their two adopted children, Garton and her husband return with them to the land of their birth and try to trace the stories of their earliest days while diving headlong into the crazy and complex challenges that come with living as expats in the Middle Kingdom. It's a story filled with honesty and warmth, one well worth the time to read.

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In Awakening East, Johanna Garton's family embarks on an adventure: one year in China to allow her adopted children a chance to experience their birth-country.  It's a year filled with hardships and humor, but most of all, with heart.  If the year was Garton's gift to her children, then Awakening East is a gift to the reader, our chance to live with a vibrant family through all their ups and downs.

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