"An incandescent and heartrending memoir about Qian Julie Wang's five years living undocumented after immigrating with her parents from China to New York City in 1994. In Chinese the word for the United States, Mei Guo, translates directly to 'beautiful country,' but when seven-year-old Qian is plucked from her warm and happy childhood surrounded by extended family in China, she finds a world of crushing fear and poverty instead. Unable to speak English at first, Qian is isolated and disregarded, put into special education classes because she doesn't speak the language and humiliated by teachers and classmates when she struggles to pay attention because of hunger or exhaustion. She encounters racism, and people of other races, for the first time, shocked at where her family fits in comparison to their status as educated elites in China. After school she works shifts alongside her mother in Chinatown sweatshops. There is so much about Qian's new home that doesn't make sense, but the rules of survival are drilled into her head: If you see a policeman, you must run in the other direction. If anyone asks--or even if they don't--you tell them you were born here. Do as you're told or we could be separated forever. Understanding impliclity the toll this has taken on her parents, Qian tries desperately to cheer them up and mediate their increasingly heated arguments, certain that if she is good enough, she can hold the family together. In remarkable, unsentimental prose Wang channels her childhood perspective, illuminating the cruelty and indignity of America's immigration system, while also crafting a narrative of resilience from her family's small moments of joy: their first slice of pizza, 'shopping days' when the family would unearth unlikely treasures in Brooklyn's trash, and the necessary escape she found in books at the local library"