Friday, April 25, 2008

The Dragon's Child

Yep, Laurence and Kathleen Yep. 2008. The Dragon's Child: A Story of Angel Island.

The Dragon's Child is a fictional story. However, the book is based loosely on the author's family history--his father and grandfather, etc. It is also based on hours and hours and hours of research. The book highlights, in a way, my ignorance when it comes to the immigrant experience. Perhaps I should say that most of my 'familiarity' is of European immigrants entering through Ellis Island. The Dragon's Child focuses on Chinese immigrants--mainly all male immigrants--entering the U.S. through Angel Island.

In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, Chinese immigrants flooded America. Primarily for economic reasons, they saw America as a land of golden dreams, golden opportunities. For their families to survive--yes, survive not thrive--they needed one or more members of the family to live in America, in the United States, to send money back to their families in China. Families fortunate enough to have a handful of members in America, were seen as especially prestigious, or wealthy. Wealthy by Chinese standards, not American ones. But this life was hard for several reasons. It required separation from one's family for long periods of time. A person never knew quite when he'd be back to see his wife and his children. It may be a few years. It may be a decade. There were laws in place that would not allow a man to bring his family with him. And a law in place that kept Chinese women from emigrating. I suppose the Americans thought that if they didn't allow these immigrants to have a wife and family, then they could control the population.

Immigration then and now could be a hot topic. The laws in place certainly show that it's something they looked down upon. Perhaps viewed as a necessary evil.

The process of immigrating or the process of traveling back and forth between countries was intense. The government kept track of everything. It was all so precise.

To understand just how detailed these records were, try drawing a map of the block on which you live. List all the people in each house and what they do, and also list all their pets. Then record the births, deaths, and marriages of all your immediate family--including uncles and aunts, parents, brothers, sisters, and grandparents--for three generations and describe what the current living relatives do and where they live. Finally write down how many windows and doors the houses have and in which direction they face. That will give you some idea how much a Chinese immigrant was expected to know. (114)
It was by reading some of these records, these documents that the Yeps found inspiration for the story they wanted to tell. A story of a young boy, a ten year old boy, who upon meeting his father for the first time in his memory--though they did meet when he was a toddler--comes home to China to visit. The boy is told that he will go back with his father to America. And that in order to go to America he has to pass a test. He has to convince the officials that he is who he says he is--his father's son. If he fails his test, if they doubt him, then they could refuse to let him and his father into the country. The boy is a bit anxious, a bit scared, a bit excited. He doesn't know what he wants. He likes the idea of America in some ways. But he doesn't like the idea of being separated--perhaps forever--from the life he has known in China.

The story is emotional and authentic.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Jeane 7:08 PM  

It sounds like a good book

Unknown 8:19 PM  

I've not had a good experience with Laurence Yep, but this one sounds like it could be a really good read. I'll have to check it out sometime.

Stacy Dillon 8:14 AM  

I just finished reading this to my fourth grade. I think I am going to take the activity from page 114 and ask my kids to try and do it! I will let you know how it goes!

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge
Linked to sign up page

Family Tree Reading Challenge

Family Tree Reading Challenge
Link to sign-up page

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge
Linked To Sign Up Page

2018 Charity Challenge (Sign Up)

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge
Link to sign up page

2018 Picture Book Challenge

2018 Picture Book Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge
click image to go to sign up post

Good Rules Cheat List

Board books and picture books = new is anything published after 2013
Early readers and chapter books = new is anything published after 2013
Contemporary (general/realistic) = new is anything published after 2007
Speculative fiction (sci-fi/fantasy = new is anything published after 2007
Classics = anything published before 1968
Historical fiction = new is anything published after 2007
Mysteries = new is anything published after 1988
Nonfiction = new is anything published after 2007
Christian books = new is anything published after 2000
Bibles = new is anything published after 1989

My Blog List

(Old) Challenge Participants

Becky's Hosting These Challenges

100 Books Project: Fill in the Gaps

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP