Monday, February 03, 2014

Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain (2014)

Angel Island. Russell Freedman. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 81 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Alexander Weiss had just started his job as a California state park ranger on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay when he came across an old abandoned building. Off-limits to the public, its windows boarded up, the two-story wooden structure stood dark and deserted behind a barbed-wire fence. On an impulse, Weiss decided to venture inside and look around. He pulled open the door. The floor creaked as he entered. The electricity had long since been turned off, so he found his way through the empty rooms and up the stairs with his flashlight, stepping over litter and broken glass. Paint was peeling from the walls and ceiling. The building smelled musty.
In a large room on the second floor, Weiss noticed markings that seemed to be carved into the walls. Moving closer, he saw that the marks appeared to be Chinese calligraphy, covered by a thin layer of chipped paint.

Angel Island is a compelling nonfiction read. This nonfiction book for young readers tells the story of Angel Island; it is the story of Asian immigrants (mainly Chinese) entering the United States. While immigrants on the East Coast faced their own problems and to some extent discrimination, it is nothing compared to the West. The story begins in the nineteenth century around the time of the California Gold Rush. The narrative focuses on the history of immigration and discrimination. It has a very personal feel to it, Freedman uses many primary resources in his account, some of these resources were poems written on the very walls at Angel Island. I would definitely recommend this one.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


JaneGS 5:56 PM  

One of my favorite travel memories is walking around Angel Island when I was pregnant with my child. It was a wonderful "final" pre-kid vacation with my husband. We're planning to rewalk Angel Island this May on our way to that baby's graduation from college in WA.

I would love to read this book to get a better perspective on the role of Angel Island in American history. It sounds like a west coast Ellis Island.

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