The Year of the Dog - Grace Lin

Mom explained to me that even though "Ja-ba, bei?" meant, "Have you eaten yet?" it was also a Taiwanese way of just saying, "How are you doing?"
"It's because food is so important to us," Uncle Leo told me. "Everything is about food."

Grace Lin is a Taiwanese-American who grew up in a mostly Caucasian neighborhood. The Year of the Dog is the sort of book she wished she had when she was a kid: one about being Chinese (or Taiwanese) in America. The book is a fictionalized account of a year in her life as a child. She meets another Chinese girl, Melody, and they become good friends. The stories are mostly just day-to-day things in the life of an eight-year-old, but they give a great perspective on what it's like to be a Chinese kid in America, including the confusion about the whole Taiwan-China issue. There's always food about, and just reading the descriptions makes me hungry. Lin even uses colorful food similes: "Snow fell from the sky like clumps of white rice..."

Also sprinkled throughout the book are stories within the story, often where Grace's mom or dad says something like "Did I ever tell you the story about..." It's a great way to inject a little tale about growing up in Taiwan or various traditions.

It's a fun book, peppered with charming black-and-white illustrations by Lin, and is just the sort of book I'll want around when my own daughter is a little older and starts asking questions about whether she's Chinese or American.

Fed to jonathan's brain | June 16, 2006 | Comments (0)


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