CHENXI AND THE FOREIGNER by Sally Rippin

CHENXI AND THE FOREIGNER

Age Range: 13 & up

KIRKUS REVIEW

The lives of a naïve, spoiled American teen, a rebellious Chinese art student and a hashish-dealing French student collide in four weeks in April 1989, with lifelong consequences. Anna’s micromanaging father arranges for her to study at a Shanghai art college, hires fellow student Chenxi to translate for her and sets her up with French Laurent (who is immediately, inexplicably smitten). Anna’s refusal to learn about the political realities of China even as she rhapsodizes about and romanticizes the people and traditions leads to trouble for both boys, while privileged Anna flees safely home. Shifting perspectives allow readers to understand a bit of Chinese history and culture on the eve of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, but the bulk of the novel follows unlikable Anna, infatuated with Chenxi and stumbling blindly about in classic white-foreigner mode while loudly proclaiming how she isn’t like the other foreigners. The historical aspects are elegantly conveyed, but characters often feel flat, an effect enhanced by the largely passive voice. Ultimately, this love-triangle tale lacks passion and excitement. (introduction, afterword) (Historical fiction. 13 & up)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-55451-173-0
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Annick Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2009




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