Factory Girls is a book about exploring the southern Chinese city of Changqing by the Chinese-American Leslie Chang. Because of her heritage and knowledge of the Cantonese she is able to integrate in the lives of the migrant workers in a way that many other Americans wouldn’t be able. The book is really two books in one. The first is a very interesting look into the lives of the every(wo)man Chinese migrant worker while the second is a plodding discussion of the author’s family history.
Chang travels to Changqing and as a journalist attempts to make friends with the local work force, which is made up primarily of women migrants. These parts of hte books, where she allows the workers to be the stars, are amazingly interesting. The worker’s stories are insights into another way of life, their perspectives on the situations are very telling and inspiring.
As great as that portion of the book is, the long portion of the book Chang discusses her family’s history are just as boring. I believe she was attempting to demonstrate the recent history of China by discussing the reasons her family moved to America, but it just comes out like a grandmother rambling on to her children about things only she cares about.
All in all much of the book is worth reading and skipping the family history sections of the book will keep you entranced.