Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Great Wall of Lucy Wu, by Wendy Wan-Long Shang

With Lucy's older sister going away to College, Lucy is psyched to be getting their room to herself.  She's also looking forward to going out for captain of the basketball team this year.  Sixth grade is going to be totally great!

But then things go awry.  Her late grandmother's long-lost sister is coming to visit and Lucy is going to have to share her room with the old woman for several months.  And Lucy's parents have decided that Lucy needs to attend Chinese school on Saturday mornings, even if it means missing basketball practice!  She just wants to be a normal American kid, yet her family keeps forcing her to be Chinese!  And no one seems to care that she loves basketball!

A gentle (albeit mildly preachy) story about the power of silver linings.  As is typical in books for this age group, Lucy begins as a self-centered (and mildly bratty) kid and ends up more open-minded and considerate.  It's a satisfying model, but doesn't offer a lot of surprises.  What works better is Wan-Long Shang's ability to work in a lot of Chinese culture, and to remind us that it doesn't exist in a vacuum (i.e., being Chinese-American means bringing the two cultures together).  She also does a nice job of bringing generations together as Lucky's visiting great-aunt proves to have some unexpected strengths.

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