My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Book Source: Checked out from my public library
Who did Regina think she was, telling me how or how not to be Chinese?
Lucy Wu is all set to have the best year of her life. Her older sister, Regina, is going off to college. Not only will Lucy get out of the shadow the Perfect Chinese Daughter, but she will also get their shared bedroom all to herself. She’s looking forward to starting sixth grade and being among the oldest kids in the school, playing basketball, and having a big joint-birthday Halloween bash with her best friend, Madison.
And then, it all falls apart. Her parents announce that Lucy is about to get a new roommate – a great-aunt from China. A new Chinese school is opening in the area, and her parents want her to go on Saturday mornings – when she has always had basketball practice. Nothing is going according to Lucy’s plans.
Shang creates an utterly believable tween in Lucy, blending all the sweetness and prickliness that come with being an eleven-year-old girl. She wants to do the right thing, but sometimes she really wants her way, too. She wants to fit in and have the boy she likes like her back. She doesn’t want to be too different from everyone else. She has been content to fade into the background everywhere but on the basketball court. When a bully makes her a target, her impulse is to hide away. When some of the popular girls spot Yi Po at the mall and make fun of her, Lucy denies being to related to her.
As the weeks pass, and Lucy gets to know Yi Po, she also starts to figure out how to bring together and accept the various parts of her own identity, and how important it is to stand up for herself. Her realistic responses to frustrating situations will have readers cringing and laughing right along with her.
Highly recommended for grades 4-6, this is a stand-out debut novel.