This is the story of ten year old Lina Gao who emigrates from Beijing to Los Angeles to join her parents and younger sister, Millie, whom she has never met. Lina’s beloved grandmother is now too old and ailing to be able to look after her. Her parents have been sending her letters telling her all about their amazing life in America, the land of opportunity. Lina can’t wait to see it. When she arrives, the reality is very different. She can’t even order water without her little sister’s help because she knows very little English. Their flat is tiny and they are already behind with their rent. Will Lina ever find her place in America and within her family?
The answers to both questions are in the affirmative but Yang’s depiction of the struggles and courage that emigration takes are heart-warming and informative. Readers will root strongly for Lina. There is also a very well-made comment by Yang about the issue of censorship in schools. Who determines and who should determine which books are considered suitable for children? School Librarians will also take heart from this book as it is an affirmation of the role Librarians play in supporting learning