This 2010 debut novel by Kimberly Chang is a wonderful immigrant story with the young protagonist (based on the author, herself),coming of age under the worst of circumstances and overcoming, magnificently,the highest of obstacles. She is from China, surrounded by a foreign language and culture as she enters the U.S. Her misunderstanding of words and phrases she hears in English are almost humorous to the reader as she enters seventh and eighth grade to discover that she has a “talent for school”, especially in the areas of math and science.
She and her mother are sponsored by a spiteful, jealous aunt to whom they are indebted and forced to live in squalor in a condemned apartment in the Bronx. The girl finds herself “growing up between two worlds” and experiencing the thrill and anxiety of young love. The love story has an unusual but satisfying ending. As she “staggers under the weight of her family’s expectations and the depths of her culture confusion” she keeps her integrity and high ideals, always true to herself. Only she can and must find a way out from under all this for her and her mother. The story takes her through the first year of college, then has an epilogue that occurs twelve years later which wraps things up nicely.
It is a good read, and I am pleased to recommend it.