Nineteen-year-old Khmer Rouge survivor and Cambodian refugee Nea Chhim sets out to uncover a lifetime of lies in this quietly powerful sequel to Chai’s Dragon Chica (2010).
It’s been a year since Nea found out she was adopted by Ma, and the people she’s always known as Auntie and Uncle are her biological parents. Plagued by nightmares about her childhood, Nea decides to confront the past in order to exorcise the ghosts of the present, resolving to gain Uncle’s love and approval as his daughter so her mind can rest. Nea is shocked to find that this once-wealthy man is now a low-key bakery owner living a monklike existence, donating most of his inventory to local charities in penance for the guilt he feels over his wife’s death. Nea plans to win him over by helping him prosper, but when the bakery becomes a local hot spot, her plan doesn’t yield the results she desires. When a family member long thought lost reappears, Nea must learn to let go of what’s she been trying so hard to grasp. Nea’s narration is meticulous, recapping the events of the earlier book and then proceeding, describing events and emotions in detail.
Readers need not have read the previous book to understand this story of family, forgiveness and belonging, and it provides a jumping-off point for further reading about Cambodian history. (Fiction. 15 & up)