A young Chinese woman, Zhen-Li—raised to observe the party line, including its one-child-per-family doctrine—falls in love with and marries a Christian, and adopts his faith. Though the couple downplays their Christianity in an effort to survive, Zhen-Li’s family is appalled, and she and her husband are ostracized. When she becomes pregnant for the second time and refuses to have an abortion, the persecution begins in earnest. Zhen-Li’s parents, under pressure from the government, pay to have Zhen-Li kidnapped and the baby aborted.
It is then Zhen-Li decides she must live up to her name—"Truth"—and take a firm stand for her faith, regardless of the consequences, and so she begins to regularly teach children about Zhu Yesu ("Lord Jesus") and to distribute Christian literature every chance she gets.
Based loosely on the life of Christian magazine editor Li Ying, currently serving a ten-year prison sentence in China, the story of Yang Zhen-Li tells the desperate tale of her incarceration and separation from her family, as she continues to minister to other prisoners, and even to her guards.
Ranking: 10 out of 10
Ages 15 & Up
WOWZA! Another 10 stars for Kathi Macias! The synopsis does not adequately inform you what this story was about - Yes, it was an amazing story about a Chinese woman enduring horrific conditions in a prison because of her faith, but it was also the story of Julia - a woman in the United States who is facing trials of her own in the nursing home where she resides, and Maggie - a young girl with no direction or guidance who is lost to the sins of the world. This book was very hard to put down, and I believe I actually finished it on Thanksgiving day! :-)
CAUTION: Some of the following content advisory may be a spoiler. Please read only with the intention of examining the content. :-)
Ok, so all the praise being said, let me move on to the content. This book is definitely not for all ages. Kathi did a wonderful job explaining true events and I in absolutely no way condemn her for the content; but still, I should caution you if you are thinking of giving this book to a young teenager. The whole book is focusing on Zhen-Li being strong when placed in terrible circumstances - one of those circumstances being the threat of rape. Throughout the book, a guard is trying to get on the good side of Zhen-Li with the intention of taking liberties that are not his; the worse thing being that he is married. It does mention his wife being afraid that he would once again "force himself upon her"(exact phrasing, if I remember correctly) and it is obvious that this man cares nothing for the feelings of any woman and delights only in abusing them. There are NO scenes where anything happens(besides the guard climbing into bed next to his wife and putting his arm around her - nothing bad), but it is very stressed throughout the book what his intentions are with Zhen-Li, and Macias in no way hides what Tong(the guard) desires from Zhen-Li. The only "scene" I'd have to point out is the night when Tong intends to take liberties and it says he begins to take off his shirt and reach for the button on his pants, but nothing happens and the act ends because of certain happenings.
There is also a cellmate of Zhen-Li's who has "sold herself" to the guards in return for a lighter work load in the labor yard. By the end of the book, she has repented, but I must point it out nonetheless. :-)
Human trafficking is also very present in the story of 15-year-old Maggie. In the book, she ends up sleeping with the man often(no scenes, except when they wake up and are laying next to each other), and though there, still, are no scenes, it's extremely obvious. The man, Jake(who is the one planning on selling her), "tests the packages" as he say/thinks and obviously does it with every girl who he reels in with the intention of selling. Drugs are often present in Maggie's story, also, and the results of using them and having withdrawals are shown. There is also another man who is supposed to keep Maggie between pick ups who thinks of "testing the package"(exact phrasing, if I remember correctly) when she is in the middle of being transferred to the buyer. The transaction never takes place, as Maggie escapes, and Maggie is never violate by that man, though she has lost her innocence by Jake.
If the content in this book had been anymore extreme or in a different context that wasn't teaching a lesson and were actually true events(unlike, say, Freefall which had no lesson at all and actually taught bad things) I would have put it down - at least long enough for my mom to read it and let me know if it was acceptable. All around though, the story was GREAT and so true. I really admired Zhen-Li's faith and courage, and how even threatened by Tong she was strong and trusted God to see her through, as He did. It will really open your eyes, if they are not already open, to the sufferings around the world. And perhaps it will touch you like it touched me, and you will begin to pray for the hurting people around the world. Well done Kathi Macias!
If you are interested in reading Red Ink, you can purchase it HERE - I highly encourage you to!