In the Beautiful Country

Quill Tree/HarperCollins/. Jun. 2022. 320p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780063118980.
Gr 5 Up–A beautifully written novel in verse about finding your way in the world. Set in 1980, Ai Shi/Anna, a Taiwanese girl, moves with her parents to California—or as they call it, the beautiful country. Anna is thrilled to be moving, until she arrives and learns that life in California isn’t what she expected. She is the only Asian student at school, and the kids bully her for being different. Her parents put all their money into a fast food restaurant that is costing them more than they make, especially with reoccurring vandalism. What started as a big dream may actually be a big mistake. Kuo doesn’t shy away from the hardships, but presents them in a suitable manner for the target audience. The racism that Anna and her parents experience is very relevant today, with some of the depictions (pulling at eyelids and reciting racist rhymes) likely to cause discomfort. This book is a work of fiction, but is inspired by Kuo and her family’s immigration to the United States. While Anna was born in Taiwan, her father is Chinese, and she discovers what it means to be from both places during that time. Anna’s story is a true journey, and Kuo skillfully breaks it into parts that allow readers to think and reflect on each piece before moving ont
VERDICT A moving historical fiction book that is valuable for all readers and belongs in libraries and classrooms.

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