Monday, January 25, 2016

Silent Tears by Kay Bratt

Irrepressible memories. Vacant eyes. A child being dangled from a third story window. A boy tied to a chair. Children sleeping in layers of clothing to fight off the bitter cold. An infant dying from starvation. Some things your mind will never allow you to forget.

Silent Tears is the true story of the adversity and triumphs one woman faced as she fought against the Chinese bureaucracy to help that country’s orphaned children.

In 2003, Kay Bratt’s life changed dramatically. A wife and mother of two girls in South Carolina, Bratt relocated her family to rural China to support her husband as he took on a new management position for his American employer. Seeking a way to fill her days and overcome the isolation she experienced upon arriving in a foreign country, Bratt began volunteering at the local orphanage. Within months, her simple desire to make use of her time transformed into a heroic crusade to improve the living conditions and minimize the unnecessary deaths of Chinese orphans.

Silent Tears traces the emotional hurdles and daily frustrations faced by Ms. Bratt as she tried to change the social conditions for these marginalized children. The memoir vividly illustrates how she was able to pull from reservoirs of inner strength to pursue her mission day after day, leaving the reader with the resounding message that everyone really can make a difference.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This book was quite different from anything I have read before. It was more emotional and enlightening than I was expecting and I'm glad I read it.

Kay Bratt moves with her husband and daughter to China and there she is thrust into a completely different world with eye opening experiences that will impact her life forever. She finds herself trying to adjust to a new culture and decides to do some volunteering to help fill her time. She volunteers at a local orphanage. Little does she know that the experience will lead to a roller coaster of deep emotions that lasts for years. Whilst there, she learns how culture really affects how people treat one another and how different her culture is from China's. All while she cares for and tries to make a difference in the lives of unfortunate orphaned children.

I don't want to spoil any of this for readers, but Kay's experiences will definitely stay with me. I myself have lived abroad and struggled with adjusting to a new culture, so I found myself easily relating to her story, but as I read more, I was grateful to have had an easier transition to my new home. I can still be brought right back to moments in this book and often find myself snuggling my own children a little tighter as I do. I cried and had a few dark moments during my reading of this book. I will say it isn't for everyone and that some readers may find themselves feeling angry and judgmental during some parts of this book. I tried to keep an open mind about cultural differences, but even I struggled. It made me feel blessed that I was born and raised in the culture that I was.

This was tough read emotionally, but I am glad I read it. I would recommend it, but warn that it isn't the best read for the soft hearted or anyone preferring lighter reads. I praise the author for sharing her experiences and for being strong enough to have done what she did.

Kay Bratt is a child advocate and author of the books Train to Nowhere, Chasing China, The Bridge, A Thread Unbroken, and the acclaimed memoir of the years she spent working in Chinese orphanages, Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage. She has actively volunteered for several nonprofit organizations, including An Orphan’s Wish (AOW) and the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for abused and neglected children. In China, she was honored with the Pride of the City award for humanitarian work. After living in China for several years, Bratt now resides in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in South Carolina, with her husband, daughter, dog, and cat.

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Jacki reviewed her personal copy of Silent Tears by Kay Bratt for this post.

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