Summary: Morning Sun in Wuhan
I’ve had Morning Sun in Wuhan on my radar for a long time because it’s set in the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic (and mostly because of the cover). 13-year-old Mei loves cooking and playing a cooking video game with two of her friends. She lives with her physician dad and is still grieving the loss of her mother. Her life suddenly turns upside down when a new virus starts killing people in her hometown Wuhan. Her dad is stuck working at the hospital and leaves Mei at home when the city is locked down. Can Mei cope with the pandemic — and find a way to help others around her?
This was a necessary story about the pandemic. I know many people avoid stories about that year, but I actually enjoyed the look back. It’s amazing how far away it feels for me now and how quickly the new normal has begun to feel like the norm. Mei is a Chinese protagonist living in China, so it was interesting to read about life in China (before it was disrupted and after). I also thought the video game about cooking was unique and a nice tie-in with Mei’s love for cooking.
The pandemic brings Mei an opportunity to connect more with her neighbors as she delivers groceries during the lockdown via their neighborhood arrangement. She even bonds with the upstairs piano-playing tween, who she’s been jealous of for the longest time, eventually learning that no one’s life is perfect (even if they have gifts that we wish we had). Throughout the story, Mei reflects on her relationship with her deceased mother and what she would’ve done in similar circumstances.
Overall: Morning Sun in Wuhan
Morning Sun in Wuhan is a fascinating, insightful middle grade account depicting the genesis of the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan. Featuring a female protagonist who loves video games and cooking, this is a great pick for those looking for books with strong female protagonists. It’s also one of those unique middle grade books actually set in Asia. I recommend listening to it on audio (which I did) because it might be a slower start if you read the actual book. Overall, a nice debut with an under-explored topic/setting.