An American preteen goes on a journey to China and discovers in that foreign land what it means to be a big sister and a good friend.
Emily and her parents are flying to China to bring home her adopted baby sister. After being an only child for 12 years, she has mixed feelings about becoming a big sister. “What if my new sister doesn’t like me…and I don’t care for her much either?” she writes in her diary. Nonetheless, Emily is excited to go on an adventure, for which she’s packed her late photojournalist grandmother’s camera. Initially, Emily’s hopes are dashed. Her parents are caught up in the throes of new-baby busy-ness and are too tired and preoccupied to explore the city of Changsha. Feeling hurt and left out, Emily rebels and goes exploring without them, befriending another soon-to-be big sister on the trip. Katherine, who was herself adopted from China into a white family like Emily’s, ropes Emily into helping her find her birth mother, which involves a lot of lying and sneaking around—and consequences. Through Emily’s narration, details about Chinese adoption emerge, such as the relative ease with which Westerners can adopt babies with special needs, and her relationship with Katherine exposes some of the complex feelings cross-cultural adoptees can experience. Other details, such as Emily’s squeamishness about unfamiliar foods, initially reinforce Western stereotypes before she settles in.
A true-to-life story about one family’s joys and struggles during the overseas adoption process. (Fiction. 8-12)