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China Doll    by Talia Carner order for
China Doll
by Talia Carner
Order:  USA  Can
Windsprint, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Talia Carner's China Doll is a very hard book to read, as was her previous Puppet Child, the tale of a child being sexually abused by her father. Talia has a knack for taking a controversial subject, imbuing it with her own words, and creating a gripping and touching story. The hard part of her books is that the subjects she has chosen are very real.

Carner simply places fictional players with great fortitude in scenes that bring her controversy to life. In China Doll, American music icon Nola Sands travels to China as a goodwill ambassador. There she finds that orphanages exist for the unwanted babies of China. Not the clean and happy places we would like to think are there, but buildings called The Dying Rooms where infants - mostly girls - are left alone for hours on end. Where drugs are used to keep them quiet, and if one dies, that's just one less to care for.

Nola matures in this book and learns she can make her own decisions, that she doesn't have to lean on her husband/manager. Her flight across China to escape with a baby that had been thrust upon her at a concert proves that not all the population of China agree with their government's edicts. Nola also fights ruthless business practices forcing the expansion of American business into China.

China Doll is hard to put down, even when reading, 'Many Asians infected with venereal diseases, including HIV, believe that having intercourse with a child cleanses them, that a child's virgin body soaks up all the impurities. The age of that "child" has become younger and younger. Disposable babies. Good for one-time use.' Not light summer reading, this novel will occupy your thoughts long after the last page has been read.

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