The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling

Scholastic. Nov. 2020. 336p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781338656114.
Gr 9 Up–Life isn’t easy for Anna Chiu. She has to take care of her younger brother and sister while her father is busy working at the family’s Chinese restaurant, and her mother can’t get out of bed. With all the responsibility, Anna feels like she can’t be a typical teen, until she meets Rory. He is hired as a delivery boy for the restaurant, and the two bond on the long rides home. When Anna’s mom finally gets out of bed, things appear to look up, but actually go from bad to worse. Tackling family, relationships, culture, and mental health, this book is a fast-paced and fabulous read. The story takes place in Australia and features Anna and her Chinese Australian family. Rory and several other characters are white, and the other restaurant employees and some of Anna’s peers are of Asian descent. This book shines a light on mental illness and how it affects not only the person who lives with it, but also their loved ones. Some aspects of the novel are on the darker side, such as learning Anna’s mom used to hit her daughters with a feather duster, but they are handled gently. Some readers may be unfamiliar with the Australian and Cantonese terminology, but the lack of understanding won’t take away from the story.
VERDICT A good addition to any collection, but especially for those looking to diversify it.

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