In the Beautiful Country

HarperAudio. Jun. 2022. 245p. $16.99. ISBN 9780063119017.
Gr 5 Up–Kuo’s debut verse novel is an autobiographically inspired, familiar immigration story, perceptively enhanced by polyglot Siu’s fluency in Cantonese. In Taiwan, she was always Ai Shi—her name starts with “love”—but at birth, Ba also gave her an aspirational American moniker, Anna: “That’s how long I’ve hoped/ for the beautiful country,” what the Chinese call America. In September 1980, Ba, Ma, and 10-year-old Anna are living in Los Angeles County, their new life rife with daily challenges. Ma and Ba run a fast food restaurant with limited English and few customers. Anna faces constant racist bullying as the only Asian student in her class. And yet neighborhood allies and new friends sway the family to stay. The upcoming Land of Broken Promises continues Anna’s story.
VERDICT Siu’s soft, consistent delivery is a soothing balm even in the most uncomfortable moments; new immigrants seeking their stories in books will discover empathic resonance here.

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