Monday, December 1, 2014

Book Review: The Year of the Fortune Cookie by Andrea Cheng (2014)

As she did in the The Year of the Book and The Year of the Baby, Andrea Cheng writes beautifully in The Year of the Fortune Cookie about Anna’s family life and friendships, as well as her experiences in school and her internal struggles and emotions. Refreshingly, even though Anna is now in middle school, the author does not introduce a sudden onslaught of superficial dramas. Instead, Anna expands her circle of friends to include other like-minded kids, takes on a service project to benefit the orphanage where her baby sister lived, and calmly and maturely works to convince a strict teacher that she deserves the opportunity to miss several weeks of school to make her trip.

As in the previous books, parts of the story are spent reflecting on Anna’s cultural identity as compared with that of her American classmates, but the focus is less on a feeling of ostracization and more on a feeling of comfort in learning about her Chinese roots. In fact, this book is an overall comfort to girls entering middle school, as it provides a saner and less scary alternative to the picture of the middle school experience often provided by books at this level.

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