Ti-Anna Wang has courage of father's convictions
Teen novel breathes new life into Montrealer's fight to get dissident freed from Chinese prison
MONTREAL - This is a tale of two girls: one real, one fictional.
It's also about two fathers: one a political prisoner, the other a central character in an adventure novel for young adults.
Finally, it's about another father, a writer who connects the two worlds, using the power of his pen to illuminate one family's struggle for freedom.
The true story is dramatic in itself: In 2002, an exiled founder of China's democracy movement is abducted, put on trial in secret, given a life sentence and locked away in prison. In Montreal, his teenage daughter vows to get him released. She visits her father in jail in China, lobbies for him in Ottawa, Washington and Geneva, moves to Taiwan to study and be near him, gives interviews - all in vain.
A decade passes, the teenager grows into a young woman, the father remains behind bars.
Then comes the fiction. An American writer - a senior journalist at the Washington Post - meets the activist's daughter and is so impressed by her story, he goes off and writes a teen novel about it. It's about, well, a Chinese dissident who disappears on a trip to Hong Kong and whose teenage daughter runs away from home with a friend to track him down. The duo get into all sorts of adventures there, trying to solve the mystery.