Review by Booklist Review
Yang, whose middle-grade debut Front Desk (2018) won the Asian/Pacific American Award for Children's Literature, makes a fierce entrance into YA, navigating a plethora of complex themes with great honesty. Claire is a "parachute," a wealthy teen from Shanghai whose parents covet the prestige of a foreign education. Dani, a scholarship student, works after school cleaning the homes of her wealthy classmates to help her mom make ends meet. Although Dani and Claire share a home--as host and boarder--they exist in separate social orbits. Yang accentuates their differences through chapters that alternate between their perspectives, highlighting the narrators' socioeconomic status, reputation, and misconceptions about each other. Their divergent worlds are brought together by experiences of sexual harassment and assault, pointing to the pervasiveness of sexual abuse on school campuses. Claire and Dani's mettle and solidarity as they contend with the institutions and privilege that hide abuse is gripping and empowering. Yang offers a compelling exploration of the parachute experience and the intersection of ethnicity, class, and reputation, while underscoring striking cultural parallels between America and China. Strong characterization and thoughtful writing make for an unforgettable read. Includes a content warning description at the onset.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Yang made a huge splash, critically and commercially, when she debuted with Front Desk. This thoughtful, forceful entry into YA promises to do the same.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
In her YA debut, Yang (Front Desk) draws from personal experience and the news to tell a contemporary story of class discrepancy, the pervasiveness of rape culture, and the Asian diaspora. Claire Wang, a high school junior living in Shanghai, is used to a life of luxury, while Filipina American Dani De La Cruz, a debate champ and Yale hopeful who is on a full scholarship at California's American Preparatory, is living a completely different life, cleaning homes to help make ends meet. After receiving a bad grade, Claire is appalled when her parents transfer her to an American high school: Dani's. American Prep is a magnet for parachutes, or "kids from China who come to the U.S. on our own," often scions of wealthy families. When Dani's mom rents out their spare room to an international student, the girls' lives become twined, even as they chafe at the other's socioeconomic misunderstandings. But when each girl experiences a traumatic incident, they learn about the devastating convergences of power, money, and male privilege. Despite occasionally flat side characters, this is a multifaceted read, by turns poignant, fun, and exultant in its celebration of the multitudinous experiences and strength inherent in diasporic identity. Ages 14--up. Agent: Tina Dubois, ICM Partners. (May)
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Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up--Dani, of Filipino descent and a scholarship student at a prestigious private school in Southern California, hopes to win a debate scholarship to Yale. To bring in some extra income, her mom rents out their spare room to an exchange student, Claire, one of many uber-wealthy students from China attending Dani's school. Although they live together, they have very different experiences at school. Through her part-time job as a house cleaner, Dani discovers how many of her classmates use their wealth to facilitate cheating and pay for opportunities she cannot access. Yang deftly weaves in parallels to recent real-life events, such as the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal and the Duke University email urging Chinese students to speak English. On top of these explorations of nationality and wealth is the realistically pervasive look at rape culture, from creepy host families and catcalling to a teacher sexually harassing a student and an actual rape. In short alternating chapters narrated by Dani and Claire, Yang creates a delicate balance between these heavier issues and the lighter moments of high school. The story seamlessly explores several difficult topics without veering into "issue-book" territory. The real feat comes at the end when Yang strikes a hopeful and powerful tone, despite the school's disappointing response to reports of sexual violence. VERDICT This is a powerful exploration of race, class, and power through multiple lenses, the most powerful being sexual harassment and rape. An engrossing read that will spark discussions on a wide range of issues.--Jennifer Rothschild, Arlington County Public Libraries, VA
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Review by Horn Book Review
Claire lives in Shanghai with her wealthy, image-obsessed, and unhappy family. When Claire's parents send her to prep school in America, she boards with a fellow student (who's on scholarship), Filipina American teen Dani, and her single mother. Both Dani and her mom clean houses to support themselves; the intersection of the two girls' worlds results, often, in cultural and class-based dissonance, but they have much in common in terms of how the world treats them. After Dani's teacher and debate coach tries to seduce her, and Claire's boyfriend rapes her, the teens find solidarity in each other and, in so doing, rebuild their lives and their identities. Yang has created two distinct and vibrant voices full of passion for both justice and independence. The teens' experiences remain believable throughout, progressing from heartbreaking to empowering, without erasing their own faults. This convincing narrative, told in alternating first-person perspectives, confronts pervasive xenophobic stereotypes, with secondary characters' complex identities adding depth and emotion to the story. An author's note explains connections to real-life "parachutes" (wealthy Chinese students sent to schools in the United States) and to Yang's own experience with sexual assault. J. Elizabeth Mills May/June 2020 p.136(c) Copyright 2020. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
A wealthy Chinese teen is sent to America on her own to attend private school. Claire is a rich 11th grader in Shanghai; Dani is a scholarship student at a private school in Southern California who helps her mother clean houses. When Claire is parachuted into America to finish high school and Dani's mother needs the income from a boarder, they become unlikely housemates. Told in alternating voices, Yang's YA debut tells two disparate narratives that overlap but, unfortunately, never truly connect. In one, Claire is swept off her feet by one of the cutest (and richest) boys in school--by his attention, his mansion, and his Lamborghini. Meanwhile, Dani, whose mother is Filipina and whose absent father's ethnicity is unspecified, believes that securing a spot at an upcoming debate tournament will be her ticket to Yale. Her debate coach singles her out for attention but crosses the line into predatory behavior; Claire's experiences are also traumatic. While these developments are heartbreaking, compelling, and ultimately empowering, they follow lengthy exposition and plotlines involving several secondary characters. Unfortunately, supporting characters are portrayed flatly, without true exploration, so each comes to represent a stereotype whose purpose seems to be teaching readers about a particular experience or point of view. Claire's and Dani's stories are much more nuanced, but the overall result is an uneven and lengthy read. Important stories are overshadowed by too many subplots. (Fiction. 14-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.