Monday, February 4, 2013

Bend, Not Break: A Life in Two Worlds


Title:  Bend, Not Break:  A Life in Two Worlds
Author:  Ping Fu with MeiMei Fox
Publication Information:  Penguin Group (USA) Inc. 2012. 276 pages.

Book Source:  I read this book based on how interesting the premise of the book sounded. The book came as a hardcover edition from the library.

Favorite Quote:  "There are three friends of winter:  the pine tree, the plum blossom, and bamboo .... Pine tress are strong .... The ability [of the plum blossom] to bloom in the midst of misfortune suggests dignity and forbearance under harsh circumstances .... Bamboo is flexible .... The Taoists understand that there can be no summer without winter, no ups without downs, no growth without decay. You ability to thrive depends, in the end, on your attitude to your life circumstances. When you are like the three friends of winter, you take everything in stride with grace, putting forth energy when it is need, yet always staying calm inwardly."

Ping Fu is a business leader of the US. She is the founder and CEO of Geomagic Inc., a high tech firm specializing in 3D software and technology. She serves on the President's National Advisory Council for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. She is also a survivor of China's Cultural Revolution and the girl who was once told to leave China and never come back.

Ping Fu was born in China in 1958. Her birth parents gave her to be raised by her aunt. She was surrounded by love. At age 8, she was separated from all she knew because of the onset of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. For years, she survived - not just survived but cared for her younger sister. As the Cultural Revolution came to an end, she returned to her family and her education. However, unwittingly, her actions led to her deportation in 1985 at age 25.

She came to the US with $80 and knowing 3 words of English - hello, please, and thank you. From that beginning to now serving on a Presidential Advisory Council. What a story!

I feel that the book gives a bird's eye view of Ping Fu's life. It goes back and forth between her two worlds - growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution and creating a new life and a new business for herself in the United States. Each section presents a brief look into one segment of her life ranging from protecting her sister and herself from the Red Guard to her arrival in the US to being named Inc. magazine's Entrepreneur of the Year. The section about her life in the US deals a lot with her business dealings - interesting if you enjoy reading about start ups and business development.

It is also a bird's eye view because the story is narrated in a very matter of fact way. The emotional undercurrent is there but never fully revealed. As a reader, I found myself reading the emotions into the story - separation from family at age 8, survival through horrible situations, the relationship with her birth mother, her marriage, and her business dealings. However, I understand that detachment as well. Perhaps, to survive what she did and as she did, that detachment is necessary. However, it does make the story more challenging to relate to.

An inspiring story of resilience and survival!

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