An American freelance journalist’s painful account of how a hasty marriage to a Chinese man turned her life upside down.
Blumberg-Kason was a “shy Midwestern wallflower” going to graduate school in Hong Kong when she met her future husband. With his intelligence, confidence and movie-star looks, Cai seemed a dream come true. He engaged her as his English tutor and, a few months later, declared his desire to date and marry her. The author assented, blind to what it would mean to become the wife of a Chinese man she barely knew. Before the pair even married, Cai’s parents told her they would take care of the baby they had not yet had—with or without her. Immediately after the wedding, the formerly “gentle” Cai was “more interested in watching porn than being with [her].” His bad behavior only worsened, as he became moody, demanding and verbally abusive. Believing that Cai’s outbursts were simply the result of a need to acclimate to married life, Blumberg-Kason resolved to "dance [her] way around future eruptions.” But their relationship grew even more riddled with problems, one of which involved a too-close-for-comfort relationship between Cai and one of his male professors. Lonely and unable to tolerate the social and interpersonal norms of mainland Chinese culture, Blumberg-Kason moved to San Francisco with her husband. But the perfect life she still dreamed of eluded her. Even the author’s longed-for baby became a source of cross-cultural conflict between her and her husband. Dissatisfied with American life, Cai demanded that their son go back to China with him. Only then did Blumberg-Kason realize that accommodating her husband would cause her to lose the one thing that had redeemed an otherwise dysfunctional marriage.
While the story sometimes reads like an intercultural soap opera, it is the author’s courage to face her mistakes that makes the book worthwhile.