The Same Moon

Rated 4.60/5 based on 5 reviews
Pearl Zhang was born in China, and grew up during the Cultural Revolution. She was raised in a typically Chinese manner, went to school, got a job and got married, then she went to the United Kingdom, and stayed.

Follow Pearl's Journey, from the East to the West, and discover a New World through her eyes. More

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About Junying Kirk

Junying Kirk came to Britain from China in 1988. She has lived almost as long in her adopted country as in the country of her birth. She was born in the 1960s and grew up in the turbulent times of the Cultural Revolution. A British Council scholarship led her to study English Language Teaching at Warwick University, followed by further postgraduate degrees at Glasgow and Leeds. She has worked as an academic, administrator, researcher, teacher and cultural consultant. Currently working as a professional interpreter and translator, she enjoys writing fiction, reading, blogging and travelling. Her Journey to the West trilogy, 'The Same Moon', 'Trials of Life' and 'Land of Hope' have been published on electronic form here and elsewhere. She lives in Birmingham with her husband.

Learn more about Junying Kirk

Also by This Author


Jess C Scott reviewed on May 13, 2014

This is a beautifully-written book by a highly literate author who has a respect for the written word. No gimmicks, no hype, nothing that's cheap about the all-important subject of coming of refreshing! Reading the chapter titles alone is stimulating, because you get a glimpse of the structure of the book without being told the exact details (which of course, entices you to want to see how the story plays outs).

The realism of the book draws the reader in effortlessly. The journey is epic and dramatic without being formulaic or repetitious. There are many poignant lines throughout the content too, which give the book added depth and insight. I think the following line (from one of the chapters in The Same Moon) describes the book very well: "Life was no film set, and there was no script." I particularly enjoyed Chapter Five: The Courtship for its unabashed view on "the dating game."

As someone who enjoys culture and travelling, this book was certainly a treat. The strength of books like these is that they remind discerning readers how literature is differentiated from the film medium. While the latter tends to be more impressive in terms of 'visuals', good literature is intimate because it engages the reader through a one-on-one experience. That is one of the things I enjoy the most about reading, which The Same Moon delivers.
(reviewed 3 years after purchase)
Belle KenyOn reviewed on Sep. 27, 2012
(no rating)
I loved 'The Same Moon' as i really connected with the characters. The descriptions are beautifully vivid and i felt i was taken on a journey through Pearl Zhang's life. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn that little bit more about chinese culture.
(reviewed 28 days after purchase)
Kenneth Wayne reviewed on April 29, 2012

The Same Moon was a delight to read. At times I felt it was a little over reliant on minutiae, but such detail did help make the the live of Pearl Zhang come alive. While reading, I was able to inhabit the body of the protagonist and see the world through her eyes. I was able to enter the mind of a girl growing up in the final years of China under Mao and share the highs and lows she experienced maturing in that environment. It was intriguing to discover that even in a so-called State-dominated society, the loves and hates that develop between those interacting with you predominate in much the same way as they do in a supposedly freer society. Ms. Kirk made it possible for me to experience what life was like in world far removed from my own, but full of 90% of the same daily anxieties, hopes and ambitions that dominated my own experience of growing up. I loved the way Pearl would periodically display ethnocentric notions of psychological qualities she believed to be uniquely Chinese, but which turned out to be similar to some that I believed to be unique to the local community in the U.S. in which I was raised. Pearl may have grown up in China during the seventies and eighties, while I grew up in a rural community in the western U.S. during the fifties and sixties; even so, we experienced 90% or more of the same hopes, dreams, hassles, and setbacks. Regardless the differences in countries, political systems and even gender, I could relate with almost everything in this novel.

The only parts that put a definite gulf between us were the few times that the writer felt it necessary to have Pearl bask in the "elite" aspects of her educational background. I myself have been far from being an "elite" in anything. Even in this regard, though, I could understand the rationale for making this uniqueness plain. After all, at the time, Pearl would have been unable to study in England if she had not excelled in the Chinese educational system. Therefore, her being a member of an "educational elite" was such a prominent part of her life.

Most of the second part of the book focuses on her life living in Scotland and England. It was fascinating to read her experiences as she matured and assimilated, but, for me, the depiction of life growing up in China was the best part of the novel. It was the part that made it clear to me that we do live under the same moon. I'm looking forward to reading the next volume of this trilogy.
(reviewed 85 days after purchase)
Vered Ehsani reviewed on Sep. 23, 2011

The Same Moon follows the story of Pearl through her childhood and early adulthood in China to her first several years in the UK where she pursues her dream of higher studies. The first half of the book provides a fascinating glimpse into the day-to-day reality of a young person growing up in China, and her perceptions and observations of a country in transition from strict communism to a relatively more open society. The traditional culture is also brought to life through Pearl’s narrative. When given the opportunity to study a Masters and then a PhD in the UK, Pearl jumps at the opportunity, at great personal sacrifice. As she struggles to adapt to a very different culture and to stay in school, she gradually discovers new freedoms she never knew could exist.

China of the ‘70s and ‘80s was as different from the UK as any two countries can be, and this is very clear from Pearl’s experience. There seems to be some parallels between the lives of Pearl and the author, and this provides great authenticity to the story. I often felt like I was reading someone’s diary, as the writing style is personal and sometimes almost unstructured, the way a diary is, one thought leading to another. A few things are needed for this novel to get 4 stars: better editing; smoother transitions between scenes and sections; less jumping between different times and places that are described in the same section (sometimes the author skips a bit too suddenly from one thought to another). I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed ‘Wild Swans’ or is interested in China or the experiences of an immigrant to the UK.

Vered Ehsani
(reviewed 33 days after purchase)
Donna Carrick reviewed on Aug. 4, 2011

The full spectrum of human experience...

The Same Moon by Junying Kirk is the tale of Pearl Zhang, a "spicy Sichuan girl" who grows up during Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution. More than just another "coming of age" novel, I found this to be a wonderfully-rendered character study. At all times fighting for freedom, Pearl entertains personal aspirations that are not in keeping with the expectations of her society.

It would be an injustice to call The Same Moon a mere love story, although love is certainly at its heart. Nor would I label it a plunge into Asian tradition. It is more universal than that, thanks to the struggles faced by Pearl. We come to accept her, not as the 'perfect heroine', but as someone who is both flawed and strong, at all times reaching past her own imperfections to find "a better way".

Having said that, if Chinese culture and the true plight of immigrants from the Far East are of interest to you, you will not be disappointed in this novel. Often cutting in its honesty, it will take the reader on a journey from oppression to freedom, from childhood to maturity, as Pearl slowly learns to discard her shackles and accept responsibility for her own dreams.

Because our youngest child was born in China, I have a passion for learning about Chinese society. I was thrilled to discover this brilliant gem of a novel, and was even more delighted to find that the story held my interest from start to finish.

I give this e-book 5 stars for honesty, the development of a compelling character, the depth of cultural understanding the author brings to bear and the compassion and generosity evident in each step of Pearl's long journey toward self-actualization.

Well done -- I highly-recommend this book!
Donna Carrick
author of The First Excellence, Gold And Fishes and The Noon God
(reviewed 45 days after purchase)
Katy Sozaeva reviewed on July 22, 2011

Pearl Zhang was born in the Sichuan province on mainland China in 1961. She was raised in a traditional Chinese manner, went to school, got a job, got married, had her single child … and then her life changed. She was given the opportunity to go study at Warwick University in United Kingdom for one year – and stayed. She adjusted to Western life, divorced her husband, lost her child to him, work, struggled, scrimped and saved. She was in a new world, a completely foreign situation – but under the same moon.

Beautifully written, “The Same Moon” is an (apparently) semi-autobiographical, semi-fiction story. Ms Kirk tells the story with authority and details that will astound the reader, especially one who, like me, doesn’t know very much about China – its fascinating traditions, its beautiful scenery, its generous people. She also grew up during the Cultural Revolution – she also left home and came to UK and stayed. I don’t know how much else of this story is based on her life, but that is enough to give me an idea – it was not an easy time or place to grow up.

This is not the sort of book I would ordinarily seek out and read – however, Junying Kirk asked me to do so and provide a review, and I can happily say that I loved this book and can heartily recommend it to anyone and everyone. Pick up this beautiful book – the first in a trilogy – and prepare to immerse yourself in a different world.
(reviewed 25 days after purchase)
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