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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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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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