Made in Asian America: A History for Young People

Harper/Quill Tree. Apr. 2024. 320p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063242937.
Gr 6 Up–Acclaimed historian Lee and Newbery Honoree Soontornvat offer an exemplary narrative on the complex and mostly untold history of people of Asian descent in the United States. The authors make history come alive and dispel harmful stereotypes by thoroughly examining events barely taught in history class, such as the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, Chinese immigrants’ role in the Gold Rush and transcontinental railroad, and Japanese concentration camps during WWII. Readers are presented with the stories of young people who experienced those events themselves. It’s the in-depth discussion of people and subjects in Asian American history that are rarely covered that is even more impactful. Afong Moy was the first known Asian woman in the United States and was exploited as an “Oriental” curiosity. Wong Kim Ark, Mary Tape, and Bhagat Singh each took their citizenship cases to the Supreme Court on separate occasions with different and sometimes devastating results. Balancing the many other vile examples of racism and xenophobia that Asian Americans have faced are stories of triumph, including those of actors Anna May Wong and Bruce Lee, Congresswoman Patsy Mink, and author Jenny Han. The compelling text is broken up with additional context from informative sidebars, black-and-white photos, reproductions, and graphs. Back matter includes source notes, a bibliography, and an index.
VERDICT Revelatory. Shelve this alongside Howard Zinn’s A Young People’s History of the United States and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People for a more complete understanding of American history.

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