I was interested in this book because I volunteer at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, and the author, Barbara Stuber, is a docent there and set a good portion of this book in the museum as well.
The story follows a young girl of Chinese descent who was adopted by a white family in the Kansas City area in the 1950s. It coincides with opening of a new exhibit in the Nelson in the Chinese Art section. As the girl fights prejudice from every front, she begins to look to her roots and find out what it means to be Chinese. Unfortunately, the story is a little predictable with her finding a new diverse group of friends, essentially creating a new family. However, the story did end up sucking me in and I was curious how the character would grow.
The main character, Lily, unfortunately follows the trend in young adult fiction currently where the lead female is essentially clueless and extremely insecure. She wanders around the plot completely unaware that the potential love interest is obviously into her and runs away from every situation convinced that the nice thing the person is saying is actually an insult. However, unlike other young adult fiction, the weak main character usually stays that way whereas this character did learn to stand up for what she wanted and learn to accept when people genuinely liked her.
I thought the most interesting aspect was the relationship, or lack thereof, with her adoptive parents. The parents tend to pretend everything is perfect, as I think was probably the case with most people in that era, and try to not see that their daughter is going through a huge change in her life. I would have like more resolution in that area. Lily ends up finding other people to identify with, and other than a brief conversation of understanding, she doesn’t seem to close the distance at all between herself and her parents.
Despite the somewhat predictability of the plot and the choppiness in the dialogue, I enjoyed this book. It was an interesting perspective and I enjoyed being able to identify the different Kansas City landmarks in it. Stuber does manage to move the plot along evenly, making for a quick read which helps guide your imagination to think of a different way of life, in a different time, yet in all the same places that I am in everyday.