Yang, Kelly

New from Here

(2) 4-6 Yang's (Front Desk, rev. 7/18; Three Keys, rev. 11/20) pandemic-set tale, based partly on her own experiences, focuses on a biracial Chinese American expat family in January 2020. Impulsive middle-child Knox Wei-Evans, ten, is filled with dread when he, his siblings, and their high-powered banker mother relocate to the Bay Area while his best friend--his father--stays in Hong Kong. Drama ensues as the kids struggle to fit in at school, Knox is diagnosed with ADHD, and the family's finances become precarious when Mom loses her job. The Wei-Evanses also experience several instances of racism, such as bullying in the form of "coronavirus tag" and accusations of being "virus carriers." Yang presents these incidents in a realistic way and defuses them by emphasizing the importance of educating others and speaking up. Despite the serious subject matter, Yang includes plenty of humor, with wry observations about Zoom schooling and the kids' efforts to "help out" with a garage sale and LinkedIn job hunt. Knox's experience with ADHD is portrayed with nuance and empathy. Some quibbles aside (the plot can feel a bit forced, and Yang largely skirts the mainland China–Hong Kong political conflict), this is a strong and timely novel about a family weathering adversity. An author's note is appended.


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