We do not at first know that much about Yan. Ming wonders how she can afford the fancy clothes. Ming says she has a part time job but will not say doing what. Yan reveals that she was molested at 13 and has had a boyfriend. (We later find out she has had many boyfriends). Yan slowly begins to probe Ming concerning any sexual feelings she may have. She asks Ming if she would like to have a boyfriend. The atmosphere of the university is very puritanical and the university police have a right to raid lover's lane type places. If a student is caught there, the university officials may notify her parents. Slowly Ming begins to develop feelings she does not understand for Yan. Yan has contrived to undress in front of Ming several times. The story line unfolds as a coming of age and wondering if I am a lesbian plot. Keep in mind Ming has been raised to think only decadent foreigners are homosexuals.
"Fan Wu was born on a state-run labor farm in mainland China, where her parents were exiled during the Cultural Revolution. Despite poverty and isolation, the farm provided her with boundless freedom and joy. In 1985, her parents left the farm, bringing her four older brothers and her with them, and settled in Nanchang, capital of Jiangxi Province.
In the mid-90s, after graduating with a bachelor's degree in Chinese Language and Literature from Sun Yat-Sen University, she went to work in Shenzhen, the first Special Economy Zone in China, transformed from a fishing village to a bustling metropolis in ten years. During her three years there, she held varied jobs and traveled extensively, witnessing the unprecedented economic boom, as well as the exploitation of workers from poor provinces and the countryside. In 1997, a scholarship from Stanford University brought her to America, and after earning an MA in Mass Media Studies, she joined Yahoo!, a Silicon Valley-based Internet company, where she worked in market research and editorial for more than seven years before devoting herself to writing."