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PAPER DAUGHTER by Jeanette Ingold


by Jeanette Ingold

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: April 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-15-205507-3
Publisher: Harcourt

Maggie Chen, 16, an intern at a Seattle newspaper who is grieving her journalist father’s recent death, is shocked to discover that he fabricated his family history. A smart, ambitious journalist in the making, Maggie sets out to discover why he lied, what happened to his—and her—real family and a possible link between his death and the government corruption case her newspaper is investigating. Interwoven with Maggie’s engaging narrative is the story of Chinese twins Fai-yi and Sucheng Li. In a flashback to 1932, Fai-yi recalls how they entered the United States using a “paper father,” a ruse to circumvent draconian laws prohibiting Chinese immigration. As the narratives merge, however, readers learn that responsibility for decades of loss and family alienation lies not with those events—Chinese poverty prompting mass emigration, brutal immigration laws harshly applied—but with one irredeemably evil character. Because evil is ahistorical, a cause rather than an effect, this motivation trivializes the novel’s context, rendering it largely irrelevant. Lacking ties to character motivation and choices, even the accurate historical detail rendered here is reduced to cultural wallpaper. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)