A moving depiction of courage and immigrant pride amid the horrors of war.

FREEDOM FOR ME: A CHINESE YANKEE

SECOND EDITION

In a new edition of this novel for roughly ages 10 and up, a Chinese American boy enlists in the Union Army to fight against slavery but must also battle prejudice.

Young Thomas Beck is not really sure how old he was when his uncle saved his life by hiding him on an American merchant ship about to sail away from Canton harbor in China. The kindly captain, Joseph Beck, took the young stowaway home to Connecticut, where he and his wife named him Thomas and raised him as their own alongside his brother, Robert. Ten years later, Thomas is a normal, rough-and-tumble, freedom-loving American boy, with only his Asian facial features and the hairstyle known as a “braided queue” to signal his Chinese heritage. Thomas and his brother long to fight in the Civil War, though Robert scoffs, “There ain’t no such thing as a Chinese Yankee.” Ignoring their mother’s warning that their place is at home with her, both boys run away to enlist in the 14th Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. Thomas soon finds harsh truth in Robert’s warning that, “Folks don’t know what being Chinese means,” as he faces rejection and hostility from new comrades, including, heartbreakingly, his own brother. Unable to hide his difference, Tom embraces his Chinese identity with stubborn courage and an American belief in freedom and fairness as he is plunged into one bloody battle after another. Haas’ narrative brings the contradictions of that devastating conflict to life as the brothers encounter a world of complex moralities. Saved from a life of enslavement as a coolie in China, Tom feels a deep connection to the fight against slavery, but many of his fellow soldiers are as hostile to freed Blacks as their Southern counterparts. Alongside vivid descriptions of the chaos and intensity of 19th-century warfare, this stirring book explores the evolving class and racial attitudes of the time. An author’s note gives a brief biography of Joseph Pierce, the “real-life Chinese Yankee” on whom the book is based.

A moving depiction of courage and immigrant pride amid the horrors of war.

Pub Date: April 13, 2022

ISBN: 979-8-98594-100-5

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Farmer's Lane Press

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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THE PAPER GIRL OF PARIS

Passionate, impulsive Chloe and her popular older sister, Adalyn, were inseparable—until the Nazis invaded France in 1940 and Adalyn started keeping secrets.

Over half a century later, Alice, Chloe’s 16-year-old American granddaughter, has just inherited her childhood home in Paris. The fully furnished apartment has clearly been neglected for decades and raises more questions than it answers: Why didn’t Gram talk about her childhood? Who is the second girl in the photos throughout the apartment? Why didn’t Gram’s family return there after the war? Alice’s father is reluctant to discuss anything that might upset Alice’s mother, who’s still reeling from her mother’s death, so Alice decides to find answers on her own. What she eventually learns both shocks and heals her family. Chapters alternate between Alice’s and Adalyn’s voices, narrating Adalyn’s experience as a French Christian of the Nazi occupation and Alice’s attempts to understand what happened after the war. The girls’ stories parallel one another in significant ways: Each has a romance with a young Frenchman, each has a parent struggling with depression, and each must consider the lengths she would go to protect those she loves. Though at times feeling a bit rushed, Alice’s engaging contemporary perspective neatly frames Adalyn’s immersive, heartbreaking story as it slowly unfolds—providing an important history lesson as well as a framework for discussing depression. Alice and her family are white.

Gripping. (Historical fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-293662-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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