Wish You Happy Forever: What China's Orphans Taught Me About Moving Mountains
By Jenny Bowen
HarperOne, 2014. 320 pages. Nonfiction.
Independent film maker Jenny Bowen saw a movie exposing the conditions in orphanages in China and made the decision, with her husband, to save one baby girl through adoption. That one decision led to the formation of the Half the Sky Foundation, a non-profit organization that works with Chinese government officials to improve the quality of care for institutionalized children throughout China, emphasizing play, nurture, and socialization. Under Bowen's leadership and working closely with local party leaders, orphanage directors, and ayis (orphanage caregivers, literally "aunties"), the organization became one of the first foreign NGOs recognized by the Chinese government and is respected for the good they do to increase the potential of some of China's most underserved populations.
This may be my favorite book that I've read this year. Bowen has an engaging writing style and is very passionate about her cause. But, at the same time, I never felt that her message was about her - the book was all about the children. Every time I picked this book up I wanted to run out and help her build orphanages in China. The stories were sometimes very sad (the tales from the 2008 earthquake actually had me crying at my desk on my lunch break), but Bowen is not focused on the sadness but on the ability of ordinary people to make a huge difference. This is a must read for anyone who wants to see the extraordinary power of good in the world. There may have been a few instances of strong language, but they were rare enough that I couldn't even point them out.