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by Andrea Cheng

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: April 15th, 2004
ISBN: 1-886910-99-5

This deft character-driven story about two ten-year-old girls rings with clarity. Sarah’s devastated when her best friend Victoria suddenly and mysteriously moves away—where has she gone? Will she be back? The honeysuckle house in the backyard, where they played daily, is bereft without her. Slowly, Sarah gets to know Ting, a girl at school who’s just arrived from Shanghai. In this Cincinnati where “China, Japan, Africa” are “all the same. . . . Faraway places with funny-looking people,” teachers confuse Sarah and Ting, never absorbing that Sarah is Chinese-American and doesn’t even speak Chinese. Kids tease and isolate Ting. Chapters vary Sarah and Ting’s distinct points of view as the two creep toward a friendship that, rather than forgetting Victoria, honors and includes her even in her absence. This is really the story of all three girls, as well as their families, each with its own pains and strengths. Honesty and subtlety co-exist in Cheng’s thoughtful, never-didactic writing. (Fiction. 9-12)