PRECIOUS GOLD, PRECIOUS JADE by Sharon E. Heisel

PRECIOUS GOLD, PRECIOUS JADE

Age Range: 10 - 12
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Prejudice leads to tragedy in Heisel's (Eyes of a Stranger, 1996) preachy, but perceptive, cross-cultural tale about a friendship between two girls, one a white Christian, the other a non-Christian Chinese in a rough and tumble mining community. The gold rush is just about over and although Angelena's part-time miner Pa still works his 'diggin's,' the pickings are no longer ample. A Chinese settlement has sprung up on the edge of town, and, as times tighten, miners begin to complain that while gold and jobs are scarce, there's a big surplus of 'he dang Chinee.' The discussion would have remained theoretical to fourteen-year-old Angelena if An Li, a Chinese girl about her own age, didn't begin coming to her one room schoolhouse. Against the sentiment of the other kids, Angelena befriends An Li and gets to know members of her community. Things heat up when a group of disgruntled miners, including Angelena's angry, frustrated Uncle Jasper, begin acting on their dissatisfaction. Learning that the miners are going to drive the Chinese out of town by burning down their homes, Angelena acts, bravely going to the 'China Shacks' to protect her friends. Life lessons abound including one from her brother Tom about the complicity of silence. 'I always thought I could hang around Jasper's shenanigans without being a part of the worst of them. But I was wrong.' Although somewhat formulaic and slow in spots, Heisel's colorfully written story, textured with exuberant, punchy dialogue, will give face to a little known aspect of the gold rush. (author’s note) (Historical Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 15th, 2000
ISBN: 0-8234-1432-9
Page count: 185pp
Publisher: Holiday House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2000




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