Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Book Review: "Scrapping Plans" by Rebeca Seitz

The focus moves now to youngest sister Joy who was adopted from China as an infant. Always the quiet one, she and her husband’s struggle with infertility is being drowned out by sister Kendra’s wedding day, her daddy’s new romance, and another Sinclair sister who may see that double pink line on a pregnancy test before Joy does. Will a trip back to China help Joy understand that God’s timing is perfect, and His plans are the ones to follow?

When I first picked up this book, I was very excited. There aren't many Christian fiction books that feature an Asian American as the lead character (or even background characters really). Therefore I was really excited to finally see another POC character in the spotlight.

Sadly, I was little disappointed as to how Joy's character was handled. First off, she's adopted. Now I understand that all the girls in the series are adopted which is the purpose of the series. But I swear, except for a handful of books, every time there's an Asian American character in Christian fiction, she has to be either adopted, an immigrant or mixed race. Why can't anyone write about American born Asian characters? That aside, I got disturbed by several characteristics about Joy. One, out of all the characters she's the only one that's extremely neat and orderly and disciplined, something that's usually a stereotype of Asian characters. Second, I was very extremely disturbed to read this line "Is it odd that I love French food yet Chinese blood runs through my veins?" Why in the world would that be odd??!!! Just because you're Asian means you HAVE to like Asian food? Believe it or not, I know some white folks that love Asian food and hate typical American food, tell me is that weird?? It was just blatant stereotyping which I detest reading.

It's sad because I enjoyed for the most part the rest of the book. Infertility is an issue that many couples face and it's hard on both of them. I understand the frustrations between both Joy and her husband and why each other doesn't want to face the reality that something might be wrong. It's something that no couple wants to have to deal with and it's always hard when everyone else around you seems to be having babies except for you. I wish that there had been more about Joy's visit to China as I always love reading about travels. What we got was really good (especially the bit about the food) but I would have love to read more. Another plot of the book involved Tandy and Kendra (Meg is notably absent for the most part in this book) trying to figure out their feelings involving their father's girlfriend. Personally, I felt they were acting like brats considering they are both either married or about to get married and their father has been a widower for awhile. They have their own lives to worry about so I'm not sure why they kept interfering with other people's lives.

Something I thought was interesting was that there was no mention at all about what race/ethnicity Scott is in the entire book. Yet on the book of the book he is portrayed as an Asian man. Not a big deal, but interesting as nothing of that is mentioned at all. Just wondering if it was an assumption that because Joy was Asian she would have to marry an Asian man?

Overall, I felt that the issues I talked about earlier really affected me from getting into the story. I wanted to gel with the characters and dive into their stories but lines like what I mentioned hindered me from it. Other people might not be as affected by it like I did, but as an Asian American female who doesn't see a lot of portrayals of other Asian American in Christian fiction, it is a big deal for me. I was sad at how it was treated because otherwise the story would have more impact on me as a reader.

Scrapping Plans by Rebeca Seitz is published by B and H Publishing (2009)

This review copy was provided by the publisher

2 comments:

  1. I had heard of this book and was curious to see some reviews on it. Your perspective on it is certainly interested to read about and I am glad to know your honest thoughts about the book! I appreciate it very much!

    Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi, Deborah! Thanks so much for taking the time to read my stories. I apologize that my characterization of Joy was offensive. I envisioned Joy as someone who has wrestled with the fact that her outer person reflects Asian heritage while her reality reflects American heritage. For her to love the cuisine of a culture so far removed from the way of Chinese rural life created mental anxiety because, she felt, it was a rejection she'd have made without thinking had she been raised in China's countryside (where French cuisine is fairly non-existent, unlike Chinese cities) with her birth parents. See, because she wrestles with whether or not to embrace being "Chinese" or "American", Joy herself plays into stereotypes. She sees each identity in stereotype and fights inwardly to determine which one to embrace. She has to learn that she is both, and neither.
    In answer to your question about Joy's husband - I never envisioned him as Asian, though perhaps the book cover designer did when she read the story.
    I wish, too, I had gotten to include more about her trip to China! I had TONS of notes from my long conversations with my sister-in-law - proud mama of two Chinese-born children - about their trips to pick up Maddie and BinBin. Joy is based in large part on that sister-in-law, who is neat and orderly and disciplined, but who is of German ethnicity. I am so sorry that it appeared I gave those characteristics to Joy out of the laziness of stereotype. I assure you I only gave them to Joy because they're so prevalent in Sara (my sister-in-law). It never dawned on me that they could be perceived as stereotype until I read your review.
    I agree completely with you that we need more racial diversity in Christian fiction. Of all five of my novels, none feature only Caucasians as the heroines. I'm an ethnic mutt married to a second-generation American whose family is quite German (many branches of his family tree still reside in Bavaria). I think ethnicity is interesting to explore because it's one of the colors in God's palette when He creates us - like height, weight, emotional temperament, talents, etc. It's tough to write, though, because publishers don't want to offend and, like I did with you here, can do so without even meaning to.
    Anywho, thanks again for reading my stories and for the helpful criticism. I'll definitely be keeping it in mind as I write my next story!

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