From School Library Journal
Grade 3-5–The honeysuckle house (a spot under a large honeysuckle bush) is where fourth-grader Sarah, a Chinese-American girl, plays with her friend Victoria until the girl suddenly moves away. Sarah's story is juxtaposed with her classmate Ting's, a new immigrant from China. Told in first person in alternating chapters, the narratives balance well between large issues (like Ting's parents' employment and legal problems and Victoria's abrupt departure) and more intimate ones (people assume that Sarah can speak Chinese, and Ting has to adjust to all of the new smells in America). With a smoothly drawn and interesting plot, strong characters, and graceful writing, the story has more immediacy than much realistic contemporary fiction. There are some truly memorable scenes, such as when Ting and Sarah explore Victoria's deserted house, and when Ting breaks a vase in the house where her mother cleans. With a strong social conscience behind it as well, this absorbing novel has a lot going for it.–Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL
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Gr. 4-7. Born in Cincinnati, Sarah, 10, is Chinese American, but she doesn't speak Chinese and doesn't want to. She's furious when the teacher expects her to take care of the new kid, Ting, who has just arrived from Shanghai. Ting, who does know a little English, wishes she were back home, far from people who mock her accent and appearance. Told in the girls' alternating voices, this novel is certainly a friendship story, but it moves beyond the usual immigration-assimilation scenario to show the cultural differences across generations and inside families. Ting's dad, desperate for his green card, hates needing Ting's help ("Just because you know English, do you think you know more than your father?"), and the parents' tensions are always on the edge of each girl's personal conflict. Although there's no neat resolution, the girls do become friends, and Sarah enjoys learning some Chinese, even as she chops off her long, straight black hair. Many readers, and not only new immigrants, will recognize the truth about how hard it is to fit in. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved