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HALF AND HALF by Lensey Namioka


by Lensey Namioka

Pub Date: June 10th, 2003
ISBN: 0-385-73038-1
Publisher: Delacorte

An earnest little effort tackles the issue of growing up biracial, but never moves beyond its premise. Fiona Cheng looks more like her Chinese-American father than her Scottish-American mother, but she feels caught equally between the two identities. From an initial puzzlement over how to fill out an official form’s racial category line to a full-blown crisis over which event to attend at a folk culture festival, she explores her dual heritage. Namioka loads Fiona’s ethnic dice, giving her a from-the-old-country Chinese grandmother and a set of from-the-auld-country Scottish grandparents; her desire to identify with and please each part of her family is believable enough within the narrative, but wildly programmatic. The plot comes to a head when Fiona finds herself scheduled to appear at her author-father’s presentation in full Chinese regalia at the same time she is to participate in her grandfather’s Scottish-dance demonstration. Naturally, she solves her dilemma inventively, deciding that she isn’t “100% anything—except myself.” Well-meaning and niche-filling, but little else. (Fiction. 8-12)