Finally Seen

S. & S. Feb. 2023. 304p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781534488335.
Gr 3-7–Arriving in Los Angeles from Beijing after five years away from her parents and little sister Millie, fifth grader Lina Gao has a lot of challenges. First, she found that her parents have been lying about their lives in the U.S.—her microbiologist dad is not a scientist as he claimed in his letters; he is an organic regenerative farmer who works at least 15 hours a day in the field. Her family does not live in a two-story blue house with a white fence, but in a cramped apartment in Los Ramos where she sleeps on a bunk bed. And her mother and little sister make and sell bath bombs on Etsy to repay the extensive back rent they owe from the pandemic. Lina also discovers her parents’ green card applications still haven’t been filed, after years of waiting. On top of that, Lina has a lot of adjustments at school, including making friends and speaking English. Luckily, she is assigned to work with a special education teacher, Mrs. Ortis, who is a young immigrant from Guatemala. With support from Mrs. Ortis and school librarian Mrs. Hollis, who recommends books that speak to her experience, Lina begins to adjust to her new life. Yang’s latest depicts Lina’s courage, kindness, and hard work to navigate her first year in the U.S. while building relationships new and old.
VERDICT A great novel that depicts the challenges of being a Chinese immigrant in the U.S. while highlighting universally relatable themes of feeling like an outcast for middle schoolers.

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