From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-High school sophomore Vee Crawford-Wong is smart, witty, insecure, occasionally brash, and living with parents who refuse to talk about their pasts. When his history teacher assigns an essay on family history, the teen invents grandparents and experiences to explain his half-Chinese, half-Texan identity. Angry at his parents' silence on this issue, Vee, with the help of his Asian friend, Madison, forges a letter from Vee's imagined Chinese grandparents inviting their son and his family to visit China. When the trip becomes a reality and his dying grandfather is actually located, Vee at last begins to understand his father and himself. This engaging narrative is brimming with what-I-am-thinking vs. what-I-just-did quandaries about girls, sex, athletics, bullies, teachers, coaches, and family relationships. Vee's crush on volatile hottie Adele temporarily blinds him to the loyalty and support of Madison and the integrity of his teacher. His joking demeanor belies his (and possibly readers') understandable frustration with his parents' lack of communication. Ultimately, his mother's and father's family histories and tensions are partially revealed. Although rambling in spots, Vee's story is upbeat, entertaining, and humorous. His personal dilemmas and explicit descriptions and language capture the adolescent male psyche; offer a mixed-ethnicity perspective; portray the social crosscurrents of public high school; and highlight the values of family, forgiveness, and self-respect.-Gerry Larson, formerly at Durham School of the Arts, NCα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Vee longs to know more about his mysterious family. Why does Dad never talk about China? Mom hails from Texas but never mentions her family. And that’s only one of the wisecracking California teen’s issues. He longs to be on gorgeous Adele’s radar, make the basketball team, and be less disappointed in the whole business of high school. When JV basketball does not pan out and Vee becomes the girls’ team manager, his social life opens up—but so does a new level of angst. Aided by a friend, Vee forges a letter from China asking the Crawford-Wongs to visit and reconnect with their roots. Will Dad buy it? Suffice it to say, the China trip is the best part of the story, full of suspense regarding who they’ll meet and benefiting from the well-drawn relationship between Vee and his father. The R-rated high-school element includes some stereotyping, and Vee’s intense self-reflection gets a bit overdone. Still, the bittersweet conclusion saves the day and shines a poignant light on family life, regret, and gratitude. Grades 9-12. --Anne OMalley