A Girl Divided

Written by Ellen Lindseth
Review by Julia C. Fischer

In 1942, Eugenia Baker is a 22-year-old woman who lives with her missionary father in rural China. Genie has always lived in China, and she spends her days translating the Bible into Chinese. Her tranquil existence is shattered not only by the civil war between the Communists and the Nationalists, but also with the arrival of World War II. When an American pilot fighter, Ted Younan, crashes and is rescued by Genie’s father, Mr. Baker convinces Ted to escort his daughter out of China, away from the danger of war. Ted, Genie, and Nathan, Mr. Baker’s assistant, embark on a perilous journey and along the way, Ted challenges Genie’s thinking and perceptions of herself. Throughout Genie’s journey, she will grapple with her identity, as she is a girl divided between China and America.

Unfortunately, this book was not exactly as described in the synopsis on the book jacket. One assumes that the book focuses on the journey out of China, with Ted and Nathan vying for Genie’s affections. However, the part in China only encompasses the first eighty pages or so, while the rest of the novel takes place on the boat from India to the United States, and then Los Angeles, where Genie tries to become a modern woman, getting a job and learning how to fly. Therefore, if you are looking for a WWII historical novel set in China, this is not the book to read. Genie is, unfortunately, an insipid, incredibly naive young woman whose character development, when it does eventually happen, is not entirely believable. She is also so sanctimonious and God-fearing that this should be classified as Christian fiction.