Books by Sara Gogol

Released: Dec. 23, 1992

An earnest first novel in which a preteen encounters both prejudice and friendship at a Portland, Oregon, school. Born in the US, Vatsana thinks of herself as American; she studies Laotian only at her parents' insistence, regards the arrival of immigrant cousin Ketsy with mixed feelings, and is both surprised and deeply disturbed when a classmate begins muttering racial slurs in her hearing. Her non-Asian friends respond to the harassment with outrage and by sharing experiences of their own: the family of one sponsored Vietnamese refugees; another recalls an anti-Semitic incident. Describing Vatsana's life at home, the author introduces readers to traditional Laotian food, dress, social customs and celebrations, as well as the importance of family—clearly, this is Fiction with a Purpose, but the lectures and cultural information are neatly interwoven into the story. Gogol has taught English as a second language, and it shows: her exposition is methodical, syntax simplified (in her thoughts, Vatsana generally refers to herself in the third person); important ideas are stated clearly and reinforced by repetition. A sturdy addition to the rapidly growing number of books about the Asian-American experience. (Fiction. 10-13) Read full book review >