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Though Hart employs plot twists effectively, it's his powerful, wounded but courageous lead whom readers will remember. Victor, an African-American bounty hunter, possesses a supreme talent for tracking down runaway slaves, but he begins to have doubts about his job after he penetrates an abolitionist organization in Indianapolis called Underground Airlines.

Newlywed Patricia Sheridan, the sympathetic if troubled heroine of this exquisite entry in Halter's long-running Dr. Alan Twist mystery series, has disturbing dreams about a tree in the garden of her husband's ancestral home soon after her arrival there. An ingeniously constructed fair-play puzzle, which will be hard for golden age fans to put down. What would you do if your spouse suddenly became the prime suspect in the kidnapping of a two-year-old girl?

That's the stomach-churning prospect that confronts London hairdresser Jean Taylor in this exceptional debut from British journalist Barton, who circles her story as if it were a lurking panther, unseen but viscerally sensed. Thriller Award—winner Abbott takes a piercing look at what one family will sacrifice in the name of making their daughter a champion. For the parents of Devon Knox, nothing is more important than ensuring that the year-old has everything she needs to pursue a possible Olympic berth in gymnastics, but murder upsets their plans.

Newman writes with exquisite precision of grief, divided loyalties, and the struggle for self-actualization in this noir-inflected standalone sequel to Planetfall. An investigator who's been abandoned by his spacefaring mother, drawn in by a charismatic cult, hounded by the media, and enslaved by the government is trying desperately to assert his individuality, and is shaken when he's ordered to find out who killed the cult leader and why. The physically and psychologically monstrous Over have subjugated humans, and they take a significant percentage of human adolescents to feed on.

One selected teen girl, her mother, and her handler find ways to fight back. Ingram combines dystopian young adult fiction with a terrifying tale of alien invasion in this powerful story of queer women carving out their identities in a world trying to crush them into nothingness. Partlow, a veteran foreign correspondent, gives an excellent account of a vastly difficult topic, exploring America's entanglement with Afghanistan, our country's longest war, in terms of U.

The book offers an eye-opening new perspective on what went wrong, and on Karzai's much criticized tenure. In Elison's brutal could-happen-tomorrow novel, a nurse makes it her mission to provide birth control and midwifery to the few women left alive after a virus ravages the population. Recognizing that any woman who lacks access to reproductive care is already living in her own dystopia, Elison writes frankly and with surprising optimism about the power of women helping one another through personal and global crises.

In a deliberately blurred time and place, a young boy sent to live with his grandmother while his father is at war finds solace in her splendid garden and the magical woods. Things take a turn for the strange and complicated when they provide help and shelter to an injured enemy soldier. Durbin works true magic with understated, gripping narration and a heartstopping emphasis on love and compassion. McKillip mixes myth and magic with everyday mundanity in a wonderfully whimsical and quirky novel in which the son of a sorceress goes in search of his father, a knight; a werewolf's daughter gets a job working with a most peculiar chef; and a young prince learns of his strange heritage.

This gorgeously written story turns the standard coming-of-age fantasy quest on its head. Jemisin's wrenching second novel of the ironically named Stillness, a far-future version of our world frequently wracked by seismic catastrophe, is a worthy successor to the Hugo Award—winning The Fifth Season. A magic-wielding, earth-shaping orogene is torn between helping her community survive the latest cataclysm and trying to find her daughter—who has her own power and her own ideas of what the world needs.

Readers are advised to have a whole box of tissues handy. Bowen's splendidly original Regency romance pairs up two rebels against society's strictures: a woman who's a fixer for the upper classes, charging high prices to make scandals disappear, and a duke who's a ship's captain with a shocking reputation. Bowen's eloquent prose elevates the gritty, steamy story of debauched nobles, blackmail, and the tension between romantic coupling and pursuit of one's individual happiness. Finnegan works in rich threads of Mexican history, queer culture and community, and questions of being out or closeted in a time and place poised on the brink of acceptance.

Shupe puts an urban spin on several favorite romance tropes—the poor but titled woman pursuing the wealthy but commerce-tainted man, an intelligent heroine with professional goals that society forbids, even snowbound lovemaking—in this magnificent romance between a steel magnate and an heiress with a head for figures in Gilded Age New York City.

Roberts, at the top of her formidable game, devastates the reader with this contemporary story of a woman who refuses to be defined by her father being a serial rapist and killer, even as journalists, filmmakers, and another killer pursue her. Her insistence on building her own life and learning to believe in love again will have readers on their feet, weeping and cheering. In pithy short chapters and language as simple, comfortable, and welcoming as a handmade rocking chair, Thomas draws readers into a small Texas town where people in need find healing, second chances, acceptance, and love.

The multiple romantic threads are woven into a cozy blanket of love that will warm any reader's heart. The title of this slender collection is not a lie: it features 99 very short stories about God.

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The catch is that the wonderfully twisted Williams is behind the stories, which means the Lord finds himself at a hotdog-eating contest or waiting in line for a shingles vaccination. The history of Singapore and the history of comics are blended in this tour de force that follows the career of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, an imaginary Singaporean cartoonist. Liew mimics styles from manga to comics strips, as Chye tries to find his own voice while adapting to the shifting social and political climate.

In chapters that alternate between the fictional life of a dysfunctional contemporary academic and life on a ship during a very real, though doomed, Arctic expedition, Healy creates a moving literary commentary on survival. The emotional and heroic core is Ada Blackjack, the ship's indigenous seamstress; determined to return home, she struggles for two years to survive in a desolate landscape.

Vividly rendered and retold by Powell, this acclaimed trilogy is a milestone in nonfiction comics storytelling. Set in the same world as Greenberg's acclaimed debut, An Encyclopedia of Early Earth , this collection of tales has the same powerful, dreamlike intensity. Using a woodcutlike style, the stories reconfigure legends and fables into a new cosmology that's familiar yet fresh, while spotlighting a pantheon of heroic and steadfast women.

The true story of the death of the author's two-year-old daughter is as heartrending a memoir as ever put to paper, refusing to rely on easy consolation, and ultimately refusing to let go of an irreplaceable life while creating a lasting memorial to her spirit. A book as painful as it is essential. Drawing from scholarship and the insights of community organizers on violence, economics, and psychology, Guardian journalist Younge chronicles the shooting deaths of 10 children and teens on a random Saturday in to illustrate the capriciousness of gun violence in America.

The short answer here is "probably not," but de Waal's long answer is much more enlightening and entertaining. We've studied animal intelligence for years without reaching any firm conclusions about the nature of that intelligence. De Waal asks profound questions about our search and whether we've been going about it in the right way, as well as what exactly separates "us" from "them.

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A memorable, eloquent, and perceptive memoir from Kenyan novelist Thiong'o in which he focuses on his four pivotal years as an undergraduate at a Ugandan university in the early s, where he wrote articles, composed plays, and discovered his voice as a novelist, against the backdrop of a continent in flux, as onetime colonies became independent nations. Phillips employs his considerable writing skills to chronicle how whites expelled the African-American population of Forsyth County, Ga.

This literary biography captures the wild spirit of an unflinching American writer, from his upbringing in impoverished Bacon County, Ga. Geltner proves that Crews was not just a great "Southern gothic" writer, but a great American one, too. Alexievich won the Nobel Prize for Literature "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time. Hardship permeates this largely bleak work, but it's a necessary confrontation with brutal realities.

In his long-awaited memoir, Springsteen invitingly takes readers on an entertaining, high-octane journey as he moves from the streets of New Jersey to the rest of the world. If there's one thing liberals and conservatives can agree on, it's that the quality of American political rhetoric has declined in recent years.

His book is simultaneously a history, an autopsy, a how-to manual, and a cautionary tale, packing a high percentage of insights per page. By turns melancholy and hilarious, Beam's book traces the waxing and waning of friendship between two literary giants. Later, when the power positions reversed, their friendship disintegrated in a public war of words both brutal and absurd.

This timely collection of essays and poems gathers voices of a new generation to present a kaleidoscopic performance of race in America. The 18 contributions cover topics deep in history as well as in the current culture, adding freshly minted perspectives to the national conversation on race. Duneier skillfully traces the origins of the ghetto from its Renaissance beginnings to its modern manifestations, noting the changes in how it was defined, who got to define it, and who benefited from its existence.

A product of public policy rather than natural settlement, the ghetto has symbolized communitarian resistance, systemic racism, and political failure. It is also, for many, home. Shetterly uncovers the little-known story of the black women mathematicians hired to work at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in Hampton, Va. In this powerful treatise on the benefits of ecological thinking, Yong describes the vast and ancient yet still poorly understood world of microbiota, whose study in isolation has yielded poor results.

As researchers have started to examine microscopic communities, they've produced new insights on a range of biological systems and animal behaviors. Scurr brings John Aubrey, a Renaissance man of 17th-century England, brilliantly to life, using surviving letters and manuscripts to craft the diary Aubrey never wrote.

Living in a century of religious and political upheaval, Aubrey sought to preserve the old and discover the new, researching a wide range of subjects including medicine, architecture, and archeology. Laing's restless curiosity, intellect, and command of language lead the way in this investigation into the role of loneliness in the lives and work of four artists—Henry Darger, Edward Hopper, Andy Warhol, and David Wojnarowicz—and its often-paradoxical contours in her own life as a transplant to New York City.

Romance, social bonding, and self-definition are readily available for the price of a Victrola cylinder, record, CD, or iTunes download, posits music critic Hajdu in this illuminating, idiosyncratic history of pop music. Whitehead conceives the Underground Railroad of the antebellum South as a literal subterranean tunnel with tracks, trains, and conductors, ferrying runaways into darkness and, occasionally, into light.

Shetterly adroitly raises a plethora of questions about the purported safety and benefits of genetically modified crops. GMOs may turn out to be fine, but very little independent research has been conducted, and the industry remains hostile to transparency. Novelist and screenwriter Offutt grapples with the lurid, overbearing legacy of his eccentric father in this conflicted and touching memoir. A longtime foreign correspondent traces the Arab Spring through five countries—Egypt, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Tunisia—from the heady idealism of to the largely grim aftermath.

Worth does so through the stories of individuals rather than groups or sects, skillfully presenting the competing perspectives in play and showing no easy path forward. Literary critic Franklin renders a gripping and graceful portrait of the mind, life, and work of the groundbreaking author best known for the chilling novel The Haunting of Hill House and the unforgettable short parable "The Lottery. In a moving portrait of a young man who succeeds, aided by encouraging teachers, Bergner chronicles the auditions and vocal contests as well as the struggles opera singer Ryan Speedo Green faced as a black man entering a mostly white musical world.

Poet Broder's deeply confessional writing brings disarming humor and self-scrutiny to the 18 essays in this collection based on the popular Twitter account sosadtoday. The result is a sophisticated inquiry into the roots and expressions of the author's own sadness that is equal parts shocking and hilarious, but above all else relatable.

An intimate portrait of the author's grandparents, who were film director John Schlesinger's Midnight Cowboy parents, both British-born offspring of German-Jewish immigrants. Through a close reading of his grandparents' letters to each other during WWI and WWII, Buruma captures a remarkable marriage, as well as a vivid depiction of a particular era and social class. Physician Kalanithi, who died in at age 37, reveals how much can be achieved through service and gratitude when a life is courageously and resiliently lived, in this deeply moving posthumous memoir.

Class re-entered mainstream American political discourse over the past year, and Isenberg runs through a litany of largely forgotten historical episodes that reveal how crucial class is to understanding America. He tells us that he has not actually seen an owl charm nor heard the owl story but made them up himself.

Now in that afterword I believe Laurence Yep to be anticipating those critics—both Caucasian and Chinese-American—who will question whether his work is "typical" of the rest of us Chinese-Americans. So to all those ethnocentric villagers, he in effect, says, "No, I'm not misrepresenting Chinese customs.

This is fiction. I hope that when more of our works gets into print that this burden—" Speak for me! Speak for me! Laurence Yep has written a lovely novel that needs no apologies. The significance of Kingston's words cannot be overstated. As a Chinese-American writer herself, she is in a perfect position to understand and to articulate the literary, social, and political context within which Laurence Yep writes.

Child of the Owl was published in The most prolific Chinese-American writer of young adult books, Yep has forged a career that in itself constitutes a response to Kingston's concerns, whether or not he was aware of them, whether or not he agreed with them. His many books demonstrate, powerfully, that there are many Chinese Americans, many and different Chinese-American experiences. No one book bears the onus of representing all Chinese Americans. Dragonwings accomplishes this, within the bounds the early twentieth century.

Child of the Owl and later books accomplish it in the context of late-twentieth-century American culture. Yep himself reminds us that regardless of the social context or notions of an artist's responsibility, he, as writer, is writing for himself as well as for a reading public. He says this in reference to Sea Glass : " Sea Glass is my most autobiographical novel, but I can't always write that close to home because it requires me to take a razor blade and cut through my defenses. I'm bleeding when I finish, and I have to take time off by writing fantasy or something only marginally related to my Chinese heritage such as The Mark Twain Murders.

And his words are so candid that the reader cannot help experiencing Sea Glass all the more deeply for having these insights. The reader, too, experiences Sea Glass deeply because of the way in which Yep uses autobiographical material. He does not simply rewrite The Lost Garden. He reminds readers in the preface to The Star Fisher that he alters family stories in such a way that they are blended together, creating a new, communal bio-fiction. These details are many and contribute to making the texture of the books rich and the characterizations strong and appealing to readers.

In Concepcion, there are "Italian kids. White kids. Black kids. Kids like Bradley. But the only other Chinese boy down here … was my cousin Stanley. The term Chinese American is not yet part of his vocabulary. Neither is it a part of the vocabulary of the students at Craig's new junior high school, who, as is clear to him when they nickname him Buddha Man, view him as a foreigner Glass, After being scolded by Uncle Lester, the owner of the store that Craig's parents are running, for not speaking fluent Chinese, Craig concludes that "if the kids thought of me as a foreigner, the old Chinese here thought of me as an American" As interesting as Craig's self-perception is that of his cousins, Sheila and Stanley, students at the same school.

They want nothing to do with him, going so far as to make fun of him along with the white students. He understands the "Western kids" Glass, 41 behaving this way but reasons that because of their shared Chinese heritage, Sheila and Stanley should not join in the humor at his expense. Craig does not understand why Sheila and Stanley never visit him in Concepcion's small Chinatown, if only to buy Chinese vegetables.

He does not understand why they will not even consider going with him to visit Uncle Quail, a living depository of Chinese history and knowledge. They cannot imagine learning to speak Chinese. Craig is right on target, more than he is aware of, when he thinks to himself, "It was as if [Sheila] had to go out of her way to prove to the others that she was different from me" An especially poignant scene unfolds when Craig asks Kenyon, a white female friend, why she thinks his cousins would pretend not to be Chinese.

She gets right to the heart of the matter: "Because maybe they think the other kids would make fun of them. It's easier to be the same as other people. Safer too. Only you remind them that they're not as white as they'd like to be" Glass, Kenyon makes the sharp observation, too, that Craig seems "to like being Chinese.

But of course, the matter of identity is not quite so simple. Craig admits at another point, for instance, that though he assumes that he and his cousins should share something based on their common history, "I couldn't have told you much more about what it meant to be Chinese" Reviewer Jack Forman is off target when he claims that "the first-person narrative is sensitive and perceptive—a bit too so for a character Craig's age. Reviewer Mary M. Burns is more accurate in noting that the narrative voice is "totally engaging … carefully but not self-consciously wrought.

What complicates Craig's experience even more than his cousins' antagonism is his father's hostility. On the face of it, the tension between him and his father has nothing to do with ethnic identity and has everything to do with a father wanting his son to emulate him in every way, in this case through excelling in sports.

His father's behavior does not make sense to him. The story is the same throughout most of the book—Mr. Chin drives his son to play basketball nearly every waking hour, though he is an abysmal player, and encourages him against his will to play with the boys at school as well. Even when Mr. Chin witnesses for himself the disaster it is, inevitably, when Craig plays basketball with his schoolmates, he sees only what he wants to see and deludes himself into thinking that Craig does have the potential to be a good player.

It only puts more pressure on Craig to know that his mother won many medals in the Chinese Olympics that used to be held in Chinatown during her youth and that his father was nicknamed the Champ of Chinatown after becoming the first Chinese basketball player to make the All-City varsity team Glass, His wish for his son is that "with just a little work, we could make you an All-City player.

The word "American," it turns out, is all-important. For Craig's father, playing basketball is completely entangled with his notions of being an American. Playing the game well was his only means of gaining the respect of white boys. Acceptance followed respect. It was a point of pride to Craig's mother that though some Western people initially had no respect for the Chinese at all, "Your dad could play any Westerners ' game and beat everyone" Glass, The question of whether or not the respect of the white peers was sincere or given grudgingly is not addressed; in a way, the respect of white people was not the only issue.

What Craig discovers is that his father, like himself, had struggled with his own father over what, essentially, were questions of self, though couched in other terms. Though many authors find it impossible to say which of their books are their favorites, Yep does not hesitate when identifying Sea Glass as his favorite: "It's about me and my father, and my uncle's in it, too.

In Sea Glass Craig finds out through Uncle Quail that sports are not and never were his father's first love.


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His first love, in fact, was plants. It had been his ambition "to know everything about plants" Glass, This was a goal that he shared with Uncle Quail as he sat drawing plant life. Uncle Quail was encouraging. His father—Craig's grandfather—was completely unsupportive, feeling pride in his son when he got attention from becoming an outstanding athlete. His reasoning, according to Craig's father, was that all the family's money had to be sent home to China. Thus, money spent on drawing was a luxury.

Uncle Quail recounts sadly the result of this attitude: "And I watch what happen. Your father was a good boy. It was just like he close a door inside himself. No more books about plants. No more drawing. And … no more talk about knowing everything about plants. He even tell me he not care about that stuff. But I got eyes. I saw" This passage presages the capacity of Mr. Chin to change his attitude and behavior toward Craig. For no matter how different he and his son are in personality, it is clear that Mr.

Chin knows how it feels to be pressured to give up something that one cares about. It is perfectly understandable to Craig, after learning this information, that his father's small garden is so important to him, though he claims that the garden is for the pleasure of his wife. This fictional garden, of course, is the garden in The Lost Garden —the garden of Laurence Yep's own father.

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In this entire scenario, Uncle Quail's insight, his seeing, is unobstructed. It is useful to Craig. There are other instances, too, where his wisdom is instructive. For example, he is able to recount the history of Chinese people in California for Craig. When Craig tells him that he knows about the contribution that the Chinese made to building the railroads, he responds, "Hear me, boy.

We Chinese did more, much more, for the demons. We built the levees that hold back the rivers in the spring, and we drained the marshes so the demons could farm lots of land. We worked their farms and their orchards and their factories. And you know how the demons repaid us? What follows is more description and detail about interaction between European and Chinese Americans, consisting mostly of the struggle of the Chinese to earn a livelihood despite the ostracism and sometimes fatal violence of some white people.

Uncle Quail remembers his father's conviction about the value of long memory, that if even one Chinese man "remembered what had happened, then we would have won a little" Commenting on the value of longevity, his conversation with Craig continues:. Because I keep my coats so long the tails get ragged.

Like the quail. But quails, they may be poor and ragged, but they're one tough bird. They live on when all the pretty pheasants and nightingales have been killed. Somehow the quails go on living. What Craig is thinking in actuality is that perhaps Uncle Quail is too tough and that his long memory is not balanced, not tempered by the reality that there are good westerners as well as bad demons. And initially, because of his memories, he is unwilling to allow Craig to bring Kenyon to his cove to go swimming simply because she is female and not Chinese either.

Kenyon is not completely innocent herself—she, too, is guilty of defining people by stereotypes. For example, when describing the clothes her mother likes for her to wear, she complains that they make her look "like I just escaped from a carnival. Craig does not challenge this statement, but perhaps the thrust of the novel will compel some young readers to question Kenyon's comment for themselves.

Though both of them may be thinking in narrow terms, one of the differences between Kenyon and Uncle Quail is that Uncle Quail is an adult and Kenyon is still a young person. Craig learns from everyone in his life, but because of the closeness he shares with Uncle Quail, he somehow expects something special from him. At the least, he expects him to follow his own advice: "Of all the people I knew, Uncle had the best reasons for staying away from others after all the bad things that had happened; but it was also a funny thing that Uncle was also the last person who should be doing that.

I mean, Uncle had talked to me about being open to the world. But it seemed that he preferred applying his words to animals and to things, and not to people" Glass, Craig is open to the world. He has internalized more of Uncle's teaching than Uncle is aware of.

He has opened his eyes to the world of Uncle's cove, learning about the water environment—the separate pools and how they are connected by narrow channels of water—and he now extends this model to the rest of his world. He realizes that though he is Chinese, he is still in some ways connected to everyone and everything is this world by various channels. In a related statement, worth quoting at length, critic Marla Dinchak offers an insightful analysis of Laurence Yep's use of symbolism.

She suggests that one of the most effective features of Yep's writing is his use of metaphor and figurative language. She then notes the way in which symbols are used in each book, generally being explained to younger characters by older, wiser ones. Dinchak continues:. As protagonists mature, they become more aware of the symbol and what it represents. Moon Shadow in Dragonwings sees the aeroplane his father builds as the symbol for the reach of humanity's imagination, the achievement of the impossible dream.

In Child of the Owl, Casey comes to understand her own cultural heritage and dual identity through the little jade owl charm, symbol of her ancestor, the owl-woman. The ocean and a reef teeming with marine life become symbols to Craig which help him communicate with those he cares about in Sea Glass. As the young people become more aware of the symbols and their meanings, young readers also become more aware of symbolism and are introduced to an aspect of literature which may be new. Universal truths are presented to readers, and Yep tells them that it is not bad to be different, and they should be proud of who they are and where they come from.

He shows readers the incredible scope of our imagination, and he shows that impossible dreams can come true. He reaffirms the importance of communication, and all of this is more understandable and believable because of the symbolism. Dinchak, Sea Glass is full of symbols, including, in the end, sea glass—broken glass, the edges of which are made round and smooth by water over the course of time.

Likewise, Craig's rough edges are being smoothed out by living his life. At various times he dislikes himself because of his weight or because he does not measure up to others' expectations. Before he realizes that he can be both Chinese and American, he feels as if he is not anything at all Glass, When his father scolds him, he feels "all broken up inside, and all the little pieces were dissolving" But by the end of the novel, Craig is comfortable with the many different parts of himself and understands that he is a special individual in the same way that no two pieces of sea glass are the same.

What remains of sea glass, in Craig's estimation, is "the brightness and the clearness" And in the end, Craig Chin, year-old Chinese-American boy, is just as bright and clear as sea glass. Laurence Yep is at his best as a writer when he is creating historical fiction. And though individual characters might be bright and clear, the same is rarely true of the historical eras that they inhabit, every period having its share of complex social forces.

The Star Fisher combines interesting, engaging characters with the particular social circumstances of a Chinese family in small-town West Virginia in the spring of Published in , it blends elements of many of his earlier books and his autobiography to make a new, successful story that was the winner of the Christopher Award.

Winning this particular award is meaningful because nominated books are judged by both reading specialists and young people themselves. The award recognizes books that "have achieved artistic excellence, affirming the highest values of the human spirit. Yep reminds his readers in his preface that his family's migration to West Virginia was not a unique experience, noting that "Chinese families refused to be confined to the Chinatowns on the two coasts and were searching for a place in America for themselves back in the s and earlier" Fisher, viii. He goes on to inform the reader that he has met Chinese Americans besides his own family who grew up in such states as Arkansas, Mississippi, and Oklahoma; The Star Fisher is their story as well.

Fifteen-year-old Joan Lee is the narrator of the story, which begins when she moves from Ohio to West Virginia with her parents and her younger brother and sister. When she arrives at her new school, the following conversation ensues with Miss Blake. Note that English is represented in italics, while Chinese is the standard. Similar incidents occur over and over again because people assume, with no basis whatsoever, that she and her family are not American. Yep might point out that this happens in the s just as it did in the early part of the century.

Part of being American, as far as most white residents of the town of Clarksburg are concerned, is speaking English, and so this kind of interaction takes place:. We go to American schools. Mister Snuff's jaw dropped open. Not only is this man ignorant of the grammatical rules of the English language , but in his ignorance has the audacity to berate Chinese Americans who do speak English. Moreover, Mr. Snuff is surprised that these Chinese American even speak—any language.

His referring to them as "darn monkeys" Fisher, 7 is not simple name-calling but expresses his conviction that they are not human at all. Much name-calling goes on in this novel. Besides "monkey," the other epithet, which has retained its impact over time, is "chink. Snuff, this time jeering, " Hey, chinky-chinky " Fisher, He refers to them, too, as heathens Name-calling does not occur only in verbal form. After the Lee family's new laundry is fully operational, a local merchant chooses to display in his store window a quite demeaning sign showing caricatures of Chinese people, pigtails and all, throwing irons at each other.

In the middle of the sign is a new washing machine. The words underneath read: " All the Chinamen want one. Buy one and you'll never want to go to a laundry " Joan and her family, however, are not the only targets of epithets and harassment. When Miss Lucy, their landlady and friend, defends them, she is characterized as a "chink lover" Miss Lucy, more than a bit reminiscent of Miss Whitlaw in Dragonwings, is the character who represents the "goodhearted white people.

For example, it is clear in the shop-window scene that those who are generally considered decent members of society are not so in all contexts. Yep relates this kind of question to the issue of socioeconomic class: middle-class status is not equivalent to decency. Respectability is a relative concept.

Children’s/Young Adult

Bernice, a white, lower-class schoolmate of Joan's, values respectability. Ashamed of her own family background, Bernice expends a lot of energy and thought trying to be a part of middle-class society. As Joan puts it, "In terms of appearance, diction, and even their names, [Bernice and her sister] were more respectable than the respectable folks—as if that might change the town's mind" Fisher, But it does not change the minds of the townspeople to any appreciable degree, and it is significant that Yep demonstrates this in a scene set in a church.

When a Christian woman at the big church social demands that Bernice get out because she does not "belong with respectable folk" , Yep's message is clear. Some of his more sophisticated readers might make connections between this scene and the scene in which Miss Lucy talks about playing her own small part, as a child, in the Civil War , wanting to contribute to ending "that pernicious trade" Undoubtedly, this was a trade that was to a large degree justified in terms of religion.

The common element between slavery and Yep's presentation of the church social scene is the theme of hypocrisy. Yep introduces the theme in a way that says, clearly, that no one segment of society is completely innocent of hypocrisy. No one is entirely "respectable. Bernice is a very complicated character.

On the one hand, she is very generous. For instance, her concern about befriending Joan is that Joan will be shunned by others when they see the two of them together Fisher, On the other hand, she wants to be a part of people who are capable of being this petty. However, this desire is quite natural for an adolescent; it is a theme that Laurence Yep returns to over and over again. Readers sympathize with Bernice, because Yep's characterization of her suggests that she will become more respectable as she learns to have respect for herself on her own terms.

Joan herself is working toward self-respect in an odd way. When she finds out that Bernice's family is made up of "theater people," she acknowledges that "theater people were … well … not very respectable either in China or America … and suddenly I could understand why the other poor girls shunned Bernice" Fisher, So the scenario involves not only middle-class people judging poor people, but all people, even within the same larger group making distinctions among themselves.

This happens in every culture. Joan understands this. Furthermore, her tone comes close to suggesting that she accepts it; in her own culture, she would, in fact, have the social prerogative to look down on Bernice. At the same time, Joan is dealing also with her feelings about being or not being American. Thus, when she fears that her mother might embarrass her at the church social, she thinks of Bernice: "Even if she was theater people, she was still American. Would the disaster at the pie social make her think I was too foreign? Joan learns several lessons from her relationship with Bernice.

One of these is "not to let a lot of silly prejudices blindfold you. It was important to meet with the person and not the notion" Fisher, Another is that "it's funny how there are levels and levels of prejudice in the world. The red-faced man hated us for being Chinese; but he would hate someone like Bernice as well for being the child of theatrical folks—just as Mama would herself" At this point, Joan has the invaluable insight that these levels upon levels of prejudice are perpetuated endlessly in a vicious circle, which can be broken only with much work on the parts of the individuals who make up society.

But ironically, Joan cannot be a part of this process until she has a clearer sense of who she is as an individual. While she defines Bernice as an American, her description of herself is not constant. She has reached the same point as Craig Chin, when he defines himself as Chinese American. Joan is still struggling. It is painful to her to admit to herself that she is incapable of telling Bernice about China because she knows as little about that country, that society, as Bernice does Fisher, Joan, however, probably knows more than she thinks she does about Chinese culture, because like Laurence Yep himself, she has simply "soaked it up" in the course of being raised by Chinese parents; she is a child of the owl, like Casey Young, whether or not she realizes it fully.

It registers somewhere in her mind when her mother explains how a given social transaction in Clarksburg might be handled in China Fisher, Though she is a bit skeptical, it makes an indelible impression when her father tells her that the washboard was a Chinese invention that was brought to America Information such as this might be considered trivial to many, but a writer such as Yep understands that little details, like the fact that a given society was technologically oriented, makes a big difference to young people who are ashamed of or confused about their heritage.

This small fact about the washboard will remain with Joan. There are countless other details, facts, attitudes, and images that are Joan's inheritance from her parents. She will recall always the image of her mother, though not literate, busily working with the abacus to balance the family's financial records.

She will remember always her father's "long, elegant fingers around her wrist—fingers that were better suited to painting and calligraphy than to being thrust into boiling-hot water" Fisher, The story within the novel, the story of the star fisher, is about a beautiful bird, temporarily transformed into a human woman, who is trapped into an earthly marriage that produces a daughter. The daughter, by blood therefore, belongs "to both the earth and sky" and "[sees] everything through a double pair of eyes" Joan will take with her throughout her life an appreciation for how most people—herself, her mother, Bernice, readers—are all, in some way, star fishers: those who belong to two worlds, both of which are their birthright.

In his autobiography Laurence Yep characterizes himself as "a bunch of different pieces that had been dumped together in a box by sheer circumstance" Lost Garden, He is referring to the whole of his background: being a Chinese American growing up in an Africa-American neighborhood; being too Chinese for some white people; being too American for some Chinese; being the decidedly nonathletic child of athletes; being the descendant of Chinese people who in some measure considered West Virginia their home. He compares his experience to that of others: "Almost everyone I knew—whether white, yellow, or black—came from a single background.

They were cut from one pattern of cloth" This is a surprising and in some ways disturbing comparison. Writing so insightfully and sensitively about numerous characters who experience this kind of double identity, this dilemma of struggling both to belong and to be individuals, it is somewhat startling that Yep would not realize that those around him might be experiencing the same.

The young people growing up around him are probably trying to figure out what it means to be African American or Italian American or Jewish American. Fortunately, Yep's characters question identity from many, diverse perspectives, and they discover that everyone has a story; that few people are cut from one pattern of cloth regardless of race, gender, religion, age, economic status, or ethnic heritage; that everyone feels in some way like a star fisher.

Selections reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Donelson New York: Scott, Foresman, Laurence Yep is one of the most successful writers in the field of children's and young adult fiction, having published well over twenty-five novels and numerous short stories and picture books since the debut of his first book, Sweetwater Harper and Row, Although his work is varied and constantly evolving, he is perhaps best known for his stories and book titles involving dragons, either literally or metaphorically.

Like all of Yep's works, his dragon stories are well-crafted and complex, and have a depth that is beyond fantasy alone. From the beginning of his writing career, Laurence Yep's intention was to use Chinese mythology in his work, whether science fiction, fantasy, or historical fiction.

Dragons are common in Chinese mythology, so it was logical, because of his deliberateness and sense of responsibility as a scholar and author, that Yep turned to dragon symbolism. Laurence Yep's dragons are not the typical fantasy-genre dragons of the western tradition.

Departing from the Western conception of dragons as villainous, Yep's Chinese-based dragons are usually noble and heroic. This dichotomy between the Chinese and the Western is key to much of Yep's writing. Growing up as a Chinese-American in San Francisco, Yep had an intimate knowledge of what it felt like to be an outsider. As a person of Chinese descent, he was not part of mainstream American society. Neither was he totally Chinese. For example, though he reads Latin and Greek, he never learned to speak Chinese.

He says that in writing about aliens and alienated groups in his science fiction, to some degree, he is writing about being Chinese in American society, not unlike the main characters of his novel The Serpent's Children Harper and Row, , who are descendants of a child born of both human and serpent. So this sense of alienation becomes crucial to understanding his fiction, including the pieces involving dragons in some way. Humans and dragons are distinctly different creatures who, in Yep's fiction at least, must learn to live with one another.

Many of his dragon stories have obvious ties to the ways in which humans interact with one another and what it means to be an insider or an outsider. It may seem odd to use dragons to explore human behavior, but for Yep there is a natural connection. Yep recognizes that young people often feel like outsiders in their own bodies. He recalls what one young fan said when asked why he identified so well with Godzilla: "He's big and clumsy and no one explains the rules to him.

Shimmer must first get through her preconceptions about humans before she can get along with them. She does not understand human behavior and believes that human hearts are "hard and flinty. Dragon of the Lost Sea is narrated from Shimmer's perspective, so human readers are forced to be part of the "out-group. In Shimmer's eyes they are, simply, humans—a designation that carries negative connotations from the beginning of the story. Eventually, Shimmer is able to work through her preconceived notions about human beings and bonds with Thorn.

And through writing about their journey to friendship, Yep explores many facets of human interaction. In addition to implied issues of race and ethnicity, Yep's writing also deals with gender and class issues. But unlike Yep, Casey has no purpose, positive or negative, and finally "just gave up trying" Fortunately, critics have not given up on the classroom as a site of promise. Marla Dinchak contends that "while young people will enjoy [Yep's] books just for their stories, Yep's novels are also well suited for classroom reading.

And she is confident they will wish to peruse Yep's work. If this is so, then there is hope that those who read Casey's story will, through reading and discussion, begin to think about major issues confronting American society. Perhaps they will bring more understanding to issues related to ethnic diversity and multiculturalism—what it means to be an American. These are some of the concerns that Casey is dealing with. They are not the only issues, however. She is dealing with issues, too, that are related to her family dynamics as well as her being of Chinese ancestry; what becomes more and more apparent is that ethnicity cannot be separated completely from any other sphere of identity and life.

Yep, like Casey, is dealing with family issues, but through his writing. Just as Casey is concerned with communicating with her grandmother who does speak English , Yep is concerned with communicating with his grandmother who does not speak English. She is, tangibly almost, at the heart of many of his books. Perhaps most telling is this admission of sorts: "As much as I tried to deny my ethnic background, I was unable to escape completely from being Chinese because of my grandmother, Marie Lee" His grandmother, he often reminds his readers, is the inspiration for the character of Cassia.

In addition to his grandmother, Yep bases so many of his characters on family members that his family has wondered aloud, good-naturedly, who Phil the Pill is based on. Critic Sharon Wigutoff makes the observation that though parent-child conflict is a major problem for young people, writers seem to avoid it as material. When they do include adult antagonists, she asserts, "they are either invisible, shallow, lacking understanding, or preoccupied with their own lives. Wigutoff is thinking specifically about Barney, Casey's father. But Phil is important, too.

Like the Chinese owls that Paw-Paw describes in her story, Phil has essentially eaten his own mother, or at least thrown her out of the family nest. When she has a hospital stay, Phil and his other siblings all refuse to take financial responsibility for her. The sense that the reader gets, however, is that were Jeanie, Casey's mother, alive, she would have been the daughter, like Jasmine, who would have taken care of her mother. Though Paw-Paw has a chosen family in her social club, her telling the owl story to Casey is an attempt on her part to reestablish a certain kind of family tie, with her granddaughter.

In the course of this process—getting to know her grandmother and the consciousness represented by Chinatown—Casey comes to know her mother in a way that would not have been possible otherwise. Wigutoff's words are doubly true. Not only does Yep create full parental characters, but full grandparental figures and adult figures in general.

Casey's father, Barney, is a central figure whether he is part of the action or absent. He is always a presence, though usually a negative one. His defining personality trait is that he is a habitual gambler. His gambling activity dictates every move that he and his daughter make. For example, one reason they move around so much is that once he owes money to too many people in one town, he must simultaneously flee them and find new sources of income and loans.

To him, taking regular employment is a means of last resort when it comes to generating income. And in the end, Barney sinks low enough to become a thief, stealing something precious from his own mother and jeopardizing his cherished relationship with Casey, whom he "raised … to be an American" Child, His ideas about wanting her to feel and be American explain why she has to learn his life story, his history, initially from others.

Barney's old friend Sheridan tries to describe to Casey the social climate in the United States following the Great Depression when Casey's parents were a young married couple, with new high school diplomas. Explaining why Jeanie could secure a job while Barney could not, he offers this analysis:. Most American bosses are men who'll hire a pretty Chinese girl just like that. Let him stay a houseboy. And then, oh, I guess about the time the war ended, he said, to hell with it.

See, it was like there was this brick wall in front of us. Some guys like me knew we couldn't get past it so we never tried. And you got your other guys who just went on beating their heads against it for years and years, but it was like Barney gave up because he'd paid his dues and now somebody owed him something. Sheridan and Casey then discuss who it was that Barney thought owed him something—God? The powers that be? What Barney found out for himself, no matter whom he expected something from, is that this society felt as if it owed him nothing past his high school education—not even an opportunity to put that education to good use.

It makes sense, then, that Barney would have some bitterness. What does not quite make sense is that this bitterness or anger is not against society, but against himself. He never reaches the point where he can admit that institutionalized racism has had a substantial impact on his life. Instead, he takes all the responsibility upon himself, internalizing the label of "loser.

He wants to believe in the promise of America so that his daughter can do the same. His reasoning is that no matter how bad things were for him, they "were still a helluva lot better than what men like my dad had to go through. You know. Ironically, it is part of Barney's philosophy, another part, that first provides Casey with a positive way of approaching her life in Chinatown. When necessary, she makes herself remember that he "had a knack for making me see the good side of things" and tries to convince herself that "there had to be something good to being Chinese" Child, In the end, though, daughter surpasses father in wisdom and understanding.

He contends that the owl story is merely a story, while Casey draws meaning from it. She comes to the understanding that, like Jasmine, she can have several identities embodied in her various selves; that her identity is complex and multifaceted; that her Chineseness does not cancel out her Americanness.

To be whole, she must acknowledge and embrace both her ethnic heritage and her nationality. Discovering her Chinese name, Cheun Meih, which means Taste of Spring, signals a corresponding period of rebirth in her life Barney and Paw-Paw's children, on the other hand, in her estimation are miserable because they cannot reconcile the American and the Chinese images of the owl. There is so much in The Child of Owl —mystery, parent-child conflict, identity crises, nostalgia, a bit of art history , American social history, and more. But at least one critic finds the afterword to the book just as intriguing as the story itself.

It is instructive to consider this rather extended statement by the novelist Maxine Hong Kingston. She makes these observations:. Laurence Yep himself has at least two voices, and I was enchanted that he tells a story-within-a-story about the owl totem of the Young family. It disconcerted me, however, when he adds an afterword in which the "I" is no longer Casey Young as in the rest of the book but apparently the author. He tells us that he has not actually seen an owl charm nor heard the owl story but made them up himself.

Now in that afterword I believe Laurence Yep to be anticipating those critics—both Caucasian and Chinese-American—who will question whether his work is "typical" of the rest of us Chinese-Americans. So to all those ethnocentric villagers, he in effect, says, "No, I'm not misrepresenting Chinese customs. This is fiction. I hope that when more of our works gets into print that this burden—" Speak for me! Speak for me! Laurence Yep has written a lovely novel that needs no apologies.


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  • The significance of Kingston's words cannot be overstated. As a Chinese-American writer herself, she is in a perfect position to understand and to articulate the literary, social, and political context within which Laurence Yep writes. Child of the Owl was published in The most prolific Chinese-American writer of young adult books, Yep has forged a career that in itself constitutes a response to Kingston's concerns, whether or not he was aware of them, whether or not he agreed with them.

    His many books demonstrate, powerfully, that there are many Chinese Americans, many and different Chinese-American experiences. No one book bears the onus of representing all Chinese Americans. Dragonwings accomplishes this, within the bounds the early twentieth century. Child of the Owl and later books accomplish it in the context of late-twentieth-century American culture.

    Yep himself reminds us that regardless of the social context or notions of an artist's responsibility, he, as writer, is writing for himself as well as for a reading public. He says this in reference to Sea Glass : " Sea Glass is my most autobiographical novel, but I can't always write that close to home because it requires me to take a razor blade and cut through my defenses.

    I'm bleeding when I finish, and I have to take time off by writing fantasy or something only marginally related to my Chinese heritage such as The Mark Twain Murders. And his words are so candid that the reader cannot help experiencing Sea Glass all the more deeply for having these insights. The reader, too, experiences Sea Glass deeply because of the way in which Yep uses autobiographical material.

    He does not simply rewrite The Lost Garden. He reminds readers in the preface to The Star Fisher that he alters family stories in such a way that they are blended together, creating a new, communal bio-fiction. These details are many and contribute to making the texture of the books rich and the characterizations strong and appealing to readers. In Concepcion, there are "Italian kids. White kids. Black kids. Kids like Bradley.

    But the only other Chinese boy down here … was my cousin Stanley. The term Chinese American is not yet part of his vocabulary. Neither is it a part of the vocabulary of the students at Craig's new junior high school, who, as is clear to him when they nickname him Buddha Man, view him as a foreigner Glass, After being scolded by Uncle Lester, the owner of the store that Craig's parents are running, for not speaking fluent Chinese, Craig concludes that "if the kids thought of me as a foreigner, the old Chinese here thought of me as an American" As interesting as Craig's self-perception is that of his cousins, Sheila and Stanley, students at the same school.

    They want nothing to do with him, going so far as to make fun of him along with the white students. He understands the "Western kids" Glass, 41 behaving this way but reasons that because of their shared Chinese heritage, Sheila and Stanley should not join in the humor at his expense. Craig does not understand why Sheila and Stanley never visit him in Concepcion's small Chinatown, if only to buy Chinese vegetables.

    He does not understand why they will not even consider going with him to visit Uncle Quail, a living depository of Chinese history and knowledge. They cannot imagine learning to speak Chinese. Craig is right on target, more than he is aware of, when he thinks to himself, "It was as if [Sheila] had to go out of her way to prove to the others that she was different from me" An especially poignant scene unfolds when Craig asks Kenyon, a white female friend, why she thinks his cousins would pretend not to be Chinese.

    She gets right to the heart of the matter: "Because maybe they think the other kids would make fun of them. It's easier to be the same as other people. Safer too. Only you remind them that they're not as white as they'd like to be" Glass, Kenyon makes the sharp observation, too, that Craig seems "to like being Chinese. But of course, the matter of identity is not quite so simple. Craig admits at another point, for instance, that though he assumes that he and his cousins should share something based on their common history, "I couldn't have told you much more about what it meant to be Chinese" Reviewer Jack Forman is off target when he claims that "the first-person narrative is sensitive and perceptive—a bit too so for a character Craig's age.

    Reviewer Mary M. Burns is more accurate in noting that the narrative voice is "totally engaging … carefully but not self-consciously wrought. What complicates Craig's experience even more than his cousins' antagonism is his father's hostility. On the face of it, the tension between him and his father has nothing to do with ethnic identity and has everything to do with a father wanting his son to emulate him in every way, in this case through excelling in sports. His father's behavior does not make sense to him. The story is the same throughout most of the book—Mr.

    Chin drives his son to play basketball nearly every waking hour, though he is an abysmal player, and encourages him against his will to play with the boys at school as well. Even when Mr. Chin witnesses for himself the disaster it is, inevitably, when Craig plays basketball with his schoolmates, he sees only what he wants to see and deludes himself into thinking that Craig does have the potential to be a good player. It only puts more pressure on Craig to know that his mother won many medals in the Chinese Olympics that used to be held in Chinatown during her youth and that his father was nicknamed the Champ of Chinatown after becoming the first Chinese basketball player to make the All-City varsity team Glass, His wish for his son is that "with just a little work, we could make you an All-City player.

    The word "American," it turns out, is all-important. For Craig's father, playing basketball is completely entangled with his notions of being an American. Playing the game well was his only means of gaining the respect of white boys. Acceptance followed respect. It was a point of pride to Craig's mother that though some Western people initially had no respect for the Chinese at all, "Your dad could play any Westerners ' game and beat everyone" Glass, The question of whether or not the respect of the white peers was sincere or given grudgingly is not addressed; in a way, the respect of white people was not the only issue.

    What Craig discovers is that his father, like himself, had struggled with his own father over what, essentially, were questions of self, though couched in other terms. Though many authors find it impossible to say which of their books are their favorites, Yep does not hesitate when identifying Sea Glass as his favorite: "It's about me and my father, and my uncle's in it, too. In Sea Glass Craig finds out through Uncle Quail that sports are not and never were his father's first love. His first love, in fact, was plants. It had been his ambition "to know everything about plants" Glass, This was a goal that he shared with Uncle Quail as he sat drawing plant life.

    Uncle Quail was encouraging. His father—Craig's grandfather—was completely unsupportive, feeling pride in his son when he got attention from becoming an outstanding athlete. His reasoning, according to Craig's father, was that all the family's money had to be sent home to China. Thus, money spent on drawing was a luxury. Uncle Quail recounts sadly the result of this attitude: "And I watch what happen. Your father was a good boy. It was just like he close a door inside himself.

    No more books about plants. No more drawing. And … no more talk about knowing everything about plants. He even tell me he not care about that stuff. But I got eyes. I saw" This passage presages the capacity of Mr. Chin to change his attitude and behavior toward Craig. For no matter how different he and his son are in personality, it is clear that Mr. Chin knows how it feels to be pressured to give up something that one cares about. It is perfectly understandable to Craig, after learning this information, that his father's small garden is so important to him, though he claims that the garden is for the pleasure of his wife.

    This fictional garden, of course, is the garden in The Lost Garden —the garden of Laurence Yep's own father. In this entire scenario, Uncle Quail's insight, his seeing, is unobstructed. It is useful to Craig. There are other instances, too, where his wisdom is instructive. For example, he is able to recount the history of Chinese people in California for Craig. When Craig tells him that he knows about the contribution that the Chinese made to building the railroads, he responds, "Hear me, boy. We Chinese did more, much more, for the demons. We built the levees that hold back the rivers in the spring, and we drained the marshes so the demons could farm lots of land.

    We worked their farms and their orchards and their factories. And you know how the demons repaid us? What follows is more description and detail about interaction between European and Chinese Americans, consisting mostly of the struggle of the Chinese to earn a livelihood despite the ostracism and sometimes fatal violence of some white people. Uncle Quail remembers his father's conviction about the value of long memory, that if even one Chinese man "remembered what had happened, then we would have won a little" Commenting on the value of longevity, his conversation with Craig continues:.

    Because I keep my coats so long the tails get ragged. Like the quail. But quails, they may be poor and ragged, but they're one tough bird. They live on when all the pretty pheasants and nightingales have been killed. Somehow the quails go on living. What Craig is thinking in actuality is that perhaps Uncle Quail is too tough and that his long memory is not balanced, not tempered by the reality that there are good westerners as well as bad demons. And initially, because of his memories, he is unwilling to allow Craig to bring Kenyon to his cove to go swimming simply because she is female and not Chinese either.

    Kenyon is not completely innocent herself—she, too, is guilty of defining people by stereotypes. For example, when describing the clothes her mother likes for her to wear, she complains that they make her look "like I just escaped from a carnival. Craig does not challenge this statement, but perhaps the thrust of the novel will compel some young readers to question Kenyon's comment for themselves. Though both of them may be thinking in narrow terms, one of the differences between Kenyon and Uncle Quail is that Uncle Quail is an adult and Kenyon is still a young person.

    Craig learns from everyone in his life, but because of the closeness he shares with Uncle Quail, he somehow expects something special from him.

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    At the least, he expects him to follow his own advice: "Of all the people I knew, Uncle had the best reasons for staying away from others after all the bad things that had happened; but it was also a funny thing that Uncle was also the last person who should be doing that. I mean, Uncle had talked to me about being open to the world. But it seemed that he preferred applying his words to animals and to things, and not to people" Glass, Craig is open to the world.

    He has internalized more of Uncle's teaching than Uncle is aware of. He has opened his eyes to the world of Uncle's cove, learning about the water environment—the separate pools and how they are connected by narrow channels of water—and he now extends this model to the rest of his world. He realizes that though he is Chinese, he is still in some ways connected to everyone and everything is this world by various channels. In a related statement, worth quoting at length, critic Marla Dinchak offers an insightful analysis of Laurence Yep's use of symbolism.

    She suggests that one of the most effective features of Yep's writing is his use of metaphor and figurative language. She then notes the way in which symbols are used in each book, generally being explained to younger characters by older, wiser ones. Dinchak continues:. As protagonists mature, they become more aware of the symbol and what it represents. Moon Shadow in Dragonwings sees the aeroplane his father builds as the symbol for the reach of humanity's imagination, the achievement of the impossible dream.

    In Child of the Owl, Casey comes to understand her own cultural heritage and dual identity through the little jade owl charm, symbol of her ancestor, the owl-woman. The ocean and a reef teeming with marine life become symbols to Craig which help him communicate with those he cares about in Sea Glass. As the young people become more aware of the symbols and their meanings, young readers also become more aware of symbolism and are introduced to an aspect of literature which may be new. Universal truths are presented to readers, and Yep tells them that it is not bad to be different, and they should be proud of who they are and where they come from.

    Lawrence Yep

    He shows readers the incredible scope of our imagination, and he shows that impossible dreams can come true. He reaffirms the importance of communication, and all of this is more understandable and believable because of the symbolism. Dinchak, Sea Glass is full of symbols, including, in the end, sea glass—broken glass, the edges of which are made round and smooth by water over the course of time. Likewise, Craig's rough edges are being smoothed out by living his life.

    At various times he dislikes himself because of his weight or because he does not measure up to others' expectations. Before he realizes that he can be both Chinese and American, he feels as if he is not anything at all Glass, When his father scolds him, he feels "all broken up inside, and all the little pieces were dissolving" But by the end of the novel, Craig is comfortable with the many different parts of himself and understands that he is a special individual in the same way that no two pieces of sea glass are the same.

    What remains of sea glass, in Craig's estimation, is "the brightness and the clearness" And in the end, Craig Chin, year-old Chinese-American boy, is just as bright and clear as sea glass. Laurence Yep is at his best as a writer when he is creating historical fiction. And though individual characters might be bright and clear, the same is rarely true of the historical eras that they inhabit, every period having its share of complex social forces.

    The Star Fisher combines interesting, engaging characters with the particular social circumstances of a Chinese family in small-town West Virginia in the spring of Published in , it blends elements of many of his earlier books and his autobiography to make a new, successful story that was the winner of the Christopher Award. Winning this particular award is meaningful because nominated books are judged by both reading specialists and young people themselves.

    The award recognizes books that "have achieved artistic excellence, affirming the highest values of the human spirit. Yep reminds his readers in his preface that his family's migration to West Virginia was not a unique experience, noting that "Chinese families refused to be confined to the Chinatowns on the two coasts and were searching for a place in America for themselves back in the s and earlier" Fisher, viii. He goes on to inform the reader that he has met Chinese Americans besides his own family who grew up in such states as Arkansas, Mississippi, and Oklahoma; The Star Fisher is their story as well.

    Fifteen-year-old Joan Lee is the narrator of the story, which begins when she moves from Ohio to West Virginia with her parents and her younger brother and sister. When she arrives at her new school, the following conversation ensues with Miss Blake. Note that English is represented in italics, while Chinese is the standard.

    Similar incidents occur over and over again because people assume, with no basis whatsoever, that she and her family are not American. Yep might point out that this happens in the s just as it did in the early part of the century. Part of being American, as far as most white residents of the town of Clarksburg are concerned, is speaking English, and so this kind of interaction takes place:.

    We go to American schools. Mister Snuff's jaw dropped open. Not only is this man ignorant of the grammatical rules of the English language , but in his ignorance has the audacity to berate Chinese Americans who do speak English. Moreover, Mr. Snuff is surprised that these Chinese American even speak—any language.

    His referring to them as "darn monkeys" Fisher, 7 is not simple name-calling but expresses his conviction that they are not human at all. Much name-calling goes on in this novel. Besides "monkey," the other epithet, which has retained its impact over time, is "chink. Snuff, this time jeering, " Hey, chinky-chinky " Fisher, He refers to them, too, as heathens Name-calling does not occur only in verbal form. After the Lee family's new laundry is fully operational, a local merchant chooses to display in his store window a quite demeaning sign showing caricatures of Chinese people, pigtails and all, throwing irons at each other.

    In the middle of the sign is a new washing machine. The words underneath read: " All the Chinamen want one.

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    Buy one and you'll never want to go to a laundry " Joan and her family, however, are not the only targets of epithets and harassment. When Miss Lucy, their landlady and friend, defends them, she is characterized as a "chink lover" Miss Lucy, more than a bit reminiscent of Miss Whitlaw in Dragonwings, is the character who represents the "goodhearted white people. For example, it is clear in the shop-window scene that those who are generally considered decent members of society are not so in all contexts.

    Yep relates this kind of question to the issue of socioeconomic class: middle-class status is not equivalent to decency. Respectability is a relative concept. Bernice, a white, lower-class schoolmate of Joan's, values respectability. Ashamed of her own family background, Bernice expends a lot of energy and thought trying to be a part of middle-class society. As Joan puts it, "In terms of appearance, diction, and even their names, [Bernice and her sister] were more respectable than the respectable folks—as if that might change the town's mind" Fisher, But it does not change the minds of the townspeople to any appreciable degree, and it is significant that Yep demonstrates this in a scene set in a church.

    When a Christian woman at the big church social demands that Bernice get out because she does not "belong with respectable folk" , Yep's message is clear. Some of his more sophisticated readers might make connections between this scene and the scene in which Miss Lucy talks about playing her own small part, as a child, in the Civil War , wanting to contribute to ending "that pernicious trade" Undoubtedly, this was a trade that was to a large degree justified in terms of religion.

    The common element between slavery and Yep's presentation of the church social scene is the theme of hypocrisy. Yep introduces the theme in a way that says, clearly, that no one segment of society is completely innocent of hypocrisy. No one is entirely "respectable. Bernice is a very complicated character. On the one hand, she is very generous. For instance, her concern about befriending Joan is that Joan will be shunned by others when they see the two of them together Fisher, On the other hand, she wants to be a part of people who are capable of being this petty.

    However, this desire is quite natural for an adolescent; it is a theme that Laurence Yep returns to over and over again. Readers sympathize with Bernice, because Yep's characterization of her suggests that she will become more respectable as she learns to have respect for herself on her own terms. Joan herself is working toward self-respect in an odd way.

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    Sexy Asian Intimate Portraits (Adult Picture Book) Volume 10 Sexy Asian Intimate Portraits (Adult Picture Book) Volume 10
    Sexy Asian Intimate Portraits (Adult Picture Book) Volume 10 Sexy Asian Intimate Portraits (Adult Picture Book) Volume 10
    Sexy Asian Intimate Portraits (Adult Picture Book) Volume 10 Sexy Asian Intimate Portraits (Adult Picture Book) Volume 10
    Sexy Asian Intimate Portraits (Adult Picture Book) Volume 10 Sexy Asian Intimate Portraits (Adult Picture Book) Volume 10
    Sexy Asian Intimate Portraits (Adult Picture Book) Volume 10 Sexy Asian Intimate Portraits (Adult Picture Book) Volume 10
    Sexy Asian Intimate Portraits (Adult Picture Book) Volume 10 Sexy Asian Intimate Portraits (Adult Picture Book) Volume 10
    Sexy Asian Intimate Portraits (Adult Picture Book) Volume 10

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