She was just 16, a shy girl whose life revolved around school and homework, when the phone call came that would change her life.
It was Thanksgiving weekend, and Victoria Hu couldn't wait for her father to return from a business trip to China. She missed their family dinners and even their occasional golf games, although she never cared much for the sport. Soccer was her game. Still, like her brother, she enjoyed the time those outings provided with their workaholic father.
He had been scheduled to arrive the day after Thanksgiving when Victoria's mother got word of a delay. She didn't go into detail but assured her children their father would be home by Christmas.
A month later, the house trimmed and the children asking incessantly -- "When is Dad coming home?" -- Victoria learned the truth. Her father, a Chinese-American engineer, had been arrested on charges of stealing Chinese state secrets. He wouldn't be home that Christmas, or for many more.
That was in 2008. Today, Hu Zhicheng still isn't home, thanks to a bizarre set of legal circumstances that prohibit him from leaving China even though authorities dropped all charges.
In Shanghai, he lives life as a free man, able to do anything except depart the country. Six thousand miles away in California, his family remains locked in their own emotional prisons: The wife who was left to raise two children alone. The son, just 13 when this started, who speaks bitterly of missing out on father-son moments.
And the daughter, who spent years yearning for her father's return and now dedicates part of her life to bringing him home.
"I fight because I believe justice will prevail," she has written, "because this is the right thing to do."
Until that call four years ago, Victoria and her brother, Richard, had grown up as typical American teenagers. Their days were filled with school, soccer practices and hanging out with friends.