Rating: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
A Chinese girl stuck in the land of the white during a time when racism and ethnic inequalities featured amongst the worst damaging human traits in history. Racism is still a gigantic issue nowadays but back then, it was a horrible time for people of color and ethnicity. How to survive at such a time without your soul dying a slow, excruciating death at the atrocious and humiliating treatment? Jo Kuan found a way to cope but the path she set herself on was fraught with perils and navigating it could mean more danger than mere exposure.
Jo Kuan was a fantastic character with a strong female voice and a clever wit that had a powerful impact on me. I empathized with her in her troubles, worried alongside her, cheered when she persevered. She was the epitome of everything people of color and ethnicity had to face back then. I am not American and my skin is brown and it wasn’t hard to put myself in her shoes and the other black people in the story who had to face myriad difficulties because of their skin color.
It is infuriating to see that even nowadays, in a time when we’re supposed to be modern and enlightened, some still carry those prejudices and spread that hatred. This book hit so many salient issues faced not just by people of color but also issues faced by women. It is heartbreaking how deep racism lies that even women weren’t united in the fight for their rights. The majority of women let society dictate their actions and Jo had to face the pain and humiliation that brought.
However, it was also heartening to see the good apples in the pile of rotten ones, those with their kindness and lack of prejudice, how liberal they were in their thoughts. The author had a fresh and appealing writing style, with awe-inspiring characters, a wit that was a true pleasure to read, a good plot that kept you engaged in the story and plot twists that had your stomach in knots. I loved everything about this book.
On a side-note, a lot of people do not read the Young Adult genre because they can’t seem to get themselves into the skin of teenagers, as they call it. But the Young Adult genre isn’t just high school drama – no, it’s fantasy and sci-fi and historical fiction like this excellent gem. I am glad I’m an eclectic reader and enjoy a variety of genres. I can tell you one thing for sure, if you do not read Young Adult books such as these, you are missing out on a world of wonder.