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Double Luck
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Reviews and Comments from Readers and Event Participants

From Publishers Weekly

Currently the owner of a restaurant in California, Lu looks back on a life that reflects China's tumultuous recent history, from wars and famine to Chairman Mao's Cultural Revolution. Orphaned at three, Chi Fa grows up amid hardships that will be scarcely imaginable to American readers. "Chi Fa, you are lucky. Good fortune will find you," his beloved Sister tells him when, yielding to her husband, she abandons him on another sibling's doorstep. The boy is shunted among his relatives, sold to strangers and eventually rescued from them by Sister; he is beaten, starved and forced to beg. At 12, he survives a dangerous trek to freedom in Hong Kong, where an elderly man to whom he gives food fuels his dreams of emigrating to America ("In America people eat three times a day. In America they are too full to swallow sorrow"), a dream he finally realizes at 20. The first-person narrative is pedestrian and even plodding in parts ("An important thing I forgot to mention is China's class system"), but readers who are not put off by the prose will be impressed by Chi Fa's perseverance, intelligence and goodness of heart. Photos not seen by PW. Ages 10-up.

From Robert and Darlene MacPherson
Long Beach, CA

Last Monday morning, April 11, my husband and I had breakfast at your restaurant. As we were leaving, I purchased your book, which you signed for me.

That afternoon we returned to our RV and I began reading about two o'clock. My husband asked me to read aloud so we could share your experience. I read straight through, finishing about nine o'clock that evening. We even skipped dinner. I could not stop reading.

We both shed some tears. Tears of anger and sadness. Tears of joy and happiness. Never in my 78 years have I read an entire book in one day. Your book was mesmerizing and fascinating. We were both so impressed with what you have become and what you have done with your life, in spite of the most adverse circumstances in which you grew up.

We are so proud that you became an American citizen. May God bless you.

Lillian Billingsley

Remember when we were in Morro Bay and I was in the car and you came out and brought me this beautiful coffee mug filled with candy? It was so sweet of you and I will never forget it. You are a wonderful person and your book is great!

Michael L. Baird
Morro Bay, CA

We just met the affable Mr. Lu Chi Fa at his restaurant, The Coffeepot, in Morro Bay, CA. Here I saw a true entrepreneur at work. We exchanged books. As the author of Engineering Your Start-up: A Guide for the High-Tech Entrepreneur I am always interested in getting to know business start-up role models and tangible success stories. Here is a story of success obtained through hard work, inspiration, and probably most important, a positive attitude, and friendly manner. Reading Double Luck will be a particularly rewarding experience for youngsters wondering about making their way in this uncertain world. Lu Chi's bookmark says it all... "In America, no matter how humble your beginnings, if you work hard, respect yourself and others, you can succeed." Lu Chi's sister says "You are lucky, Chi Fa... good fortune has found you." I don't think it was luck, it was pure determination.

Beryl Scarbrough
Schweitzer Elementary School
Carmichael, CA

Excerpt from letter to Lu Chi Fa:

I am a teacher of a 6th grade class in Sacramento, CA. My father-in-law bought your book last summer at your restaurant and while visiting him I read it. I loved reading about your life in China as a boy. Your courage and fortitude inspired me. I had him buy one for me and also one for a friend.

I decided to read it aloud to my fifth graders. They were enthralled with each episode and almost every day when I was reading it one of the students would say, "This is such a good book!"

I believe Double Luck should be a read-a-loud book in every 5th and 6th grade classroom. It is both inspiring and informative, giving children a picture of China during the communist takeover.

  

Connie Hanretty Church, M.A.
College Instructor, Cal Poly
San Luis Obispo, CA

Excerpt from letter to Lu Chi Fa:

Please accept my sincere thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak to my class, Psy. 460 - Child Abuse and Neglect, about your life story as portrayed in the book. The students were deeply affected by reading your book and many commented that your memoirs provide hope to keep working hard, to preservere through all of life's obstacles, and never give up.

Our world is a better place because we have people like you who are willing to tell their painful life story because it encourages others and provides the hope which is what sustains us during hard times. You exemplify resilience, which is a gift. I wish more abused and neglected children had this to help them endure their sufferings and pain.

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-10-The power of positive thinking is amply demonstrated in this moving memoir. Born in the turmoil of the Sino-Japanese war in China's Jiangsu province and orphaned at age three, young Chi Fa ("new beginning") had more new beginnings than any child should have to face. He was passed from relative to relative and finally sold to a Communist village chief who treated him badly. Rescued by his sister 18 months later, he was returned to his unwelcoming relatives. At nine years old, he was the caretaker for a mute epileptic and then sent to Shanghai to join the brother and the family who had first sold him. In time, they ended up in Kowloon, where, for nearly three years, Chi Fa supported them by begging, until an aunt arranged for them all to migrate to Taiwan. For the first time in his life, at 13, he went to school, but after a year, he was pulled out to work. He contributed to that family until he was conscripted into the Taiwanese army. In 1969, he immigrated to the United States, following a dream he had had for 14 years. The strength of this book is in the clarity of Chi Fa's personal story, his optimism and determination in the face of incredible adversity. The grinding poverty of daily life in China is clear. Less trustworthy is his understanding of geography and politics of the world beyond his family. Such errors make this touching story somewhat less convincing.

Kathleen Isaacs, Edmund Burke School, Washington, DC

Wendy Ragusa
Charlotte Wood Middle School

Excerpts from letter to Lu Chi Fa:

Reading time was very sacred while we were reading your novel. Oftentimes the students did not want me to stop reading.

Double Luck is a better-sweet novel, Lu Chi Fa. Although you lost your parents at such an early age, your journey and hardship growing up in Communist China, in my opinion, became sweet long before you obtained your passport to the United States. Your courage and preseverance throughout was inspiring to all of us.

We live in a very high socio-economic community east of San Francisco and the very thought of not having parents to nurture, a roof over our head, and food to eat was enlightening. Your feeling of constant rejection is something that humbled all of us with your story. Kids and adults of all ages will trully grow as human beings with your story. Thank you for sharing. With your story, I feel that good luck has found me.

Jessica, Student
Red Oak Elementary

Excerpt from letter: I loved the way you thought of the positive side for everything. I thought it was cool that whatever situation you were in, you learned something. For everything you did, you are now strong, obedient, persistent, considerate, thankful, careful, and kind. Each one of your chapters was a lesson I can use in my life. I get the feeling that is why you wrote your book.

Write to Double Luck.

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