Sunday, January 29, 2012
Dumpling Days is the newest novel by Grace Lin and an addition to her two previous books, Year of the Dog and Year of the Rat - featuring main character Pacy. This is my first encounter with Grace Lin - or Pacy, the main character. I am sure I would have more background on Pacy and her family had I read the previous two novels but this is a stand alone book that I could enjoy despite having not read them. And I did enjoy it.
Pacy is American - born and raised - but her parents are from Taiwan. For a month of their summer vacation, Pacy's family is going to Taiwan and she is not excited about it. When they arrive in Taiwan, she yearns for the quiet of her small suburban city. Taiwan is loud; she does not like her painting class, even though at home she has a talent for art; and she can't read or speak the language.
The story highlights the void in which Pacy finds herself. She is American, but in her small town she stands out as the only Asian-American in her class, and in Taiwan people think she is Taiwanese and do not understand why she can not speak the language. Lin does a great job of bringing Pacy's search to define herself to the forefront so that any reader who has ever felt lost in the middle can relate.
Pacy learns about ghosts in Taiwan, eats chicken feet and stinky tofu, gets lost, has her fortune told and struggles to find herself and what is important to her during her month in Taiwan. But there is not a bad day that dumplings will not help make better.
This is a great read that I highly recommend. It is recommended for grades 3 and up, and I think that recommendation is about right. I think readers from ages 7 to 11 or so will love this book.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but all opinions are my own.