Three Chinese international students discern their destinies as they navigate living and studying abroad.
Flipping between time periods, the story follows two casts of characters. In present-day Ashford, Ohio, Pike, Tone, and Theresa are Chinese students at Eastern University. Pike is a free-wheeling rich kid who is forced to study physics (even though he’s really interested in Asian history) to keep the funds flowing. His roommate, Tone, has just been awarded a prestigious MIT fellowship to pursue his physics research. Theresa, Tone’s girlfriend, is looking for her big break as a stage actor. Although decades and miles apart, their lives mirror those of Chinese university students Hill and Lily and white American playwright Neil Peterson. Amid the horrors of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre, the three do whatever it takes to ensure their stage production goes on. In Ohio, Theresa is given a lead in a play based on one that Peterson left unfinished. As the production moves forward, its ripple effects force the friends to confront their demons. When their lives take an unexpected turn, each character has to grapple with a difficult, life-changing choice. This is a worthy attempt at spotlighting the plight of international students in North America and contains many elements of a good novel—mystery, intrigue, betrayal, and romance. Too bad the absorbing plot can’t save the unmoving characters.
Read it for the history lesson. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 14-18)