“The stories of migrant women shared certain features. The arrival in the city was blurry and confused and often involved being tricked in some way. Young women often said they had gone out alone, though in fact they usually traveled with others; they just felt alone. They quickly forgot the names of factories, but certain dates were branded in their minds, like the day they left home or quit a bad fctory forever. What a factory actually made was never important; what mattered was the hardship or opportunity that came with working there. The turning point in a migrant’s fortunes always came when she challenged her boss. At the moment she risked everything, she emerged from the crowd and forced the world to see her as an individual.”
Factory Girls is an interesting look into the lives of young women working in factories in the city of Dongguan. Leslie T. Chang, a former correspondent for the Wall Street Journal in Beijing, paints a picture of migrant life in this factory-strewn town. And not just by making factory visits. Instead, she She visits their factories, tags along on their weekend outings, as they visit their hometowns during the New Year, as they meet the opposite sex at “making friends” clubs, as they attempt to learn English to improve their lives. It is chockful of details, which managed to sustain my interest throughout. Chang also weaves in bits about her own family’s history as she attempts to trace her ancestors’ footsteps through their homeland. Some of these details I did skim through, mostly because I wanted to get back to the struggles faced by Min and Chunming and partly because it just didn’t quite jive with the rest of the book. However, overall, I’d say Factory Girls is a very readable book of non-fiction. It usually takes me quite a while to plod my way through non-fiction books but this was a pretty fast and easy read, and an enjoyable one too.