Rooted in personal experience, this novel in verse captures the trials of being a young Chinese immigrant in suburban Detroit.
Frances Chin, the 11-year-old daughter of Chinese immigrants, struggles to adapt to life in America with her parents and older sister, Clara, who is experiencing inexplicable hair loss. Clara’s only wig is stolen by school bullies. Endless doctors’ appointments fail to unearth answers. Frances is bullied at school and feels overlooked at home. Like Nancy Drew, Frances becomes obsessed with determining the cause of Clara’s hair loss. In five chapters of short, free-verse poems, Chang shows young Frances blossoming with the help of a friend named Annie, who is also Chinese American, and a tennis coach. Readers first see the pain and loneliness of being different before Annie’s friendship distracts Frances from her daily troubles. Frances channels her frustration onto the tennis court under the tutelage of an interested coach, which gives her the strength and courage to find the root of her sister’s illness. The starting point of a tennis match is stated as “love, love”—a place of equality. Amid the challenges of first-generation life, Frances grasps onto the hope that there is a level playing field in this country. This lyrical story shows that, for some, the pressure of success is hard to bear. In her author’s note, Chang describes her sister’s experiences with mental illness and provides links to resources.
An expressive book of poetry that provides a glimpse at life in an immigrant family.(Verse fiction. 8-12)