Unbound – Blog Tour – Book Review


Book: Unbound

Author: Gina Gu Berumfield

About Unbound

“Brumfield’s debut is a complex story that highlights the struggles between classes as well as racist practices against the Chinese by imperialist foreigners in their own country.”


Women go to extraordinary lengths to survive and find love, a life for themselves, and to create opportunities for their own self-expression. Unbound is about survival, and what women sacrifice and endure to pursue love and a future of their own making.

When author Dina Gu Brumfield first came to the United States in the late ‘80s from China, she left a restrictive communist culture, in which people—especially children—were fed a communist ideology that enabled one party to exercise power over others. It is also a culture deeply rooted in submissive and traditional expectations. She re-educated (a word used by communists in China back then) herself to see things from very different perspectives.  

Using her newfound understanding and knowledge, Dina Gu Brumfield pens her debut novel, Unbound: A Tale of Love and Betrayal in Shanghai [Greenleaf Book Group, August 2020]. A sweeping, multigenerational story of two iron-willed women—a grandmother and granddaughter—set in a richly textured, turbulent portrait of the city of Shanghai in the twentieth century, where everyone must fight to carve out a place for themselves amid political upheaval and the turmoil of war.

Mini Pao lives with her sister and parents in a pre-World War II Shanghai divided among foreign occupiers and Chinese citizens. In a time marked by repressive social morals, Mini boldly rejects the path set out for her. A story of love, betrayal, and determination unfolds in Shanghai, a city known as the Paris of the East—the same city where, decades later, her granddaughter Ting embarks on her own journey toward independence.

Ting Lee has grown up behind an iron curtain in a time of scarcity, humility, and forced-sameness in accordance with the structures of Chairman Mao’s cultural revolution. Ting’s imagination burns with curiosity about America and her long-lost grandmother Mini’s glamorous past and mysterious present. Uncovering her family’s tragic past, Ting will have to face the difficult truth of what her future holds if she remains in China.

Through the pages of Unbound, Brumfield explores resilience and personal determination in the face of tragedy and heartbreak. 

This captivating read features strong independent women who risk everything to break free from their visible and invisible bounds in an effort to seek a life that is true to themselves. Unbound also touches on:

  • #OwnVoices storytelling loosely based on the author’s life and experiences being born and raised in Shanghai, China
  • Bringing to life the stark difference between 1930s and 1980s Shanghai, and how circumstances and societal expectations impacted the choices available to a young woman in those times
  • Using fiction to explore, through the characters’ eyes, the search for personal self-expression in China during turbulent times of cultural conflict, war, and communist rule
  • The human dimension of what freedom truly means
  • Resilience and the will to survive and meaningful life for oneself


Own voices stories have a unique beauty which sets them apart. This book too is such a kind. Lovely concept. Beautiful storytelling. Strong message. You can connect with the characters. The characters’ hunger for freedom will move you. Emotion quotient is quite high, bound to touch your heartstrings.
A family can only get a specific time to prepare food. They need to get sort of a permission to “indulge” themselves with necessities. People have to fight with each other to acquire those necessities. The book starts with this story. You can understand, what this book may serve you with.

It’s a lengthy book. But you will want to read.

Rating: 4/5 🌟

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