Between the Lines Book Club: Bend Not Break by Ping Fu

between the lines book club logoIt’s September, and that means a new Between the Lines Book Club book. This month we are reading the controversial memoir Bend not Break, by Ping Fu with MeiMei Fox. We will be meeting at Arden Dimick Library at 10:30AM on Sept 28, 2019 in person, and you can also leave comments here.

Here are some discussion questions to think about while you read the book. Future posts will address the controversies behind the memoir, so be sure to check in on Fridays. These questions will probably be revised and added to before our meeting.

  1. What did you think of Ping Fu’s writing style? Does she tell a good story? Did you keep turning pages? Was it literary or conversational? What about the flashback structure?
  2. How does this compare to other memoirs we’ve read, esp Lion and Born a Crime? Does it do what it attempts to do?
  3. Do you agree with Ping Fu that “If you don’t believe in the glass ceiling, it ceases to exist.”
  4. Let’s talk about the controversies surrounding the book. How true to life does a memoir have to be to be “valid”? Do you agree that she conveyed her “emotional truth?” Is the memoir worth reading even if it isn’t all true?
  5. Some memoirs are completely fabricated. Others are at least partially true but partially fabricated. Where do you draw the line between a “true” and “untrue” memoir? When are fabrications useful in creating a good story, and when and how are they harmful? 
  6. How did Ping Fu build resilience? How can this apply to our own children and to ourselves, regardless of the magnitude of the challenge?
  7. How did Ping Fu’s experiences help her in business? How did they hinder her?
  8. Did Ping Fu pull herself up by her own bootstraps? What social opportunities and personal connections helped her?
  9. How does Ping Fu’s search for a positive life connect to “The Geography of Bliss?” What things helped her survive emotionally in  both in her childhood and in her adult life?
  10. Would you recommend this book to others?

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