Street of Eternal Happiness by Rob Schmitz allowed me to be an armchair traveler, taking advantage of the experience that Schmitz had with his family in Shanghai, China.
Schmitz focuses on various people that he encounters on The Street of Eternal Happiness. While sharing their personal stories, he also reveals a great deal about China and the laws and culture.
There is Zhao who left her husband - something rarely heard of in China - to find work in Shanghai. She did this to make money as well as to give her two sons a better start in life. However, the laws of China prevented her children from attending middle or high school in Shanghai, since they are required to report to their home district, which was in the rural community they left. Zhao did not know about this when she decided to move, and believes that her children were hurt by this policy. She continues to run a flower shop, a small business that allows her to eke out a living.
Schmitz is given some letters by friends that document the husband's time in a China labor camp for capitalism in correspondence between him and his wife. The wife's letters to him encourage him to re-educate himself and praise Chairman Mao, since these letters would have been inspected before they were allowed to reach the recipient.
These are just two stories of the people that Schmitz encounters. Each person's story is interesting and sheds light on the Chinese way of life. Schmitz's ability to immerse himself in Shanghai has allowed him to bring to the public the stories of real Chinese people and how despite our many differences, we also have many things in common.