Parachute Kids

Scholastic Audio. Jun. 2023. 304p. $24.99. ISBN 9781339004556.
Gr 4 Up–Tang herself opens with a thoughtful explanation about language: “The accents used by the actors...are intended to convey [the] difficulty of communication for nonnative [English] speakers and are not, in any way, meant as derogatory or stereotypical depictions of the characters. Instead, the accents are used to represent the real frustrations and challenges these characters experience, while finding footing in their new home.” Feng-Ling, 10, arrives in LA in 1981 for a family vacation, but after enjoying the thrills of Disneyland and Universal Studios, her parents announce they must return to Taiwan—Baba to work to support the family, Mama because of her impending visa expiry. Feng-Ling (perky but lost by Jenny Chan), 14-year-old Ke-Gang (angry yet vulnerable via Kenton Chen), 16-year-old Jia-Xi (poised until she isn’t by Ell), are suddenly “parachute kids,” left regularly alone because an American life, their parents believe, is the “best opportunity there is” for their children. Beyond the expected language and cultural challenges, the siblings also face a phone scam, friends who are not, and must-have temptations.
VERDICT Tang’s extraordinary narrative is blessed with a sensitive, agile cast, resulting in what will surely be one of 2023’s most-demanded titles.

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