Shen, E. L.

The Comeback

(2) 4-6 On the ice, twelve-year-old Chinese American girl Maxine Chen is a fearless figure skater in pursuit of an Olympic dream. Off the ice, she grapples with fitting in at school and balancing her classwork with her athletic training. What's more, a bully subjects Maxine to bias-based harassment by using a racial slur, mocking her eyes, and promoting stereotypes of Asians as hyper-intelligent and perpetual foreigners. Maxine's self-esteem wavers even more when an old friendship fades and a new skilled skater emerges, leaving Maxine feeling isolated and eclipsed mere weeks before a crucial competition. Shen depicts a determined, spirited tween working toward overcoming insecurities and finding her voice. Asian American figure-skating heroes (e.g., Michelle Kwan, Kristi Yamaguchi, Nathan Chen) provide Maxine stories of belonging, countering her "othered" experience as a minority in her majority white hometown. When a fellow skater shows her techniques gleaned from Asian makeup experts on YouTube, Maxine learns to see her once-mocked eyes anew: "My eyes, my eyes, the lids I hate so much, their shriveled curves, the ugly slits. Now they are almost pretty." Set in the dazzling world of competitive figure skating, this is a heartwarming story of perseverance and self-acceptance.


Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.

This coverage is free for all visitors. Your support makes this possible.

We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.