Summary: Tiger Daughter
Wen is a first-gen daughter of Chinese immigrants living in Australia. Her dad is angry because he hasn’t been able to re-qualify as a medical professional in Australia, and he tries to control Wen and her mother’s lives. Wen plans to go to high school far away from their town — she and her best friend at school, another first gen immigrant kid. But when a tragedy occurs in Henry’s family, Wen and her mother must step up to support him if they want to achieve their dreams.
I typically avoid emotionally challenging stories, but I found Wen’s voice so compelling. She’s a very determined protagonist with a clear vision for her future, so she works hard to achieve it. With her friend Henry’s help, she’s practically unstoppable. Wen’s home life is not the easiest; her mother is on eggshells around her father and has to prepare impractical multi-course meals everyday, even when they have little at home (just because “it’s tradition”). It’s a fascinating glimpse into the kind of challenges some kids face regularly.
Then there’s Henry. His mom is having a hard time assimilating in Australia and she spends most days crying at home. Eventually, something tragic happens and Henry and his father must learn to support each other as some in their community view them with disdain because of their circumstances. The story is told entirely from Wen’s perspective, so readers don’t experience any of Henry’s traumas directly, but through Wen’s eyes and ears.
Despite all the hardships, there are bright spots as the author underscores themes of community and friendship in this story. Both kids dream together at school, Wen’s mother starts to find her voice (and a job), and she and Wen support Henry through his emotional turmoil. I also loved all the descriptions of hearty Chinese food that Wen’s mother prepares for her family and eventually for Henry’s family too.
- Death: A child’s parent takes their own life in the course of the story — not depicted on the page but referenced in the story.
- Alcohol/substance abuse: Wen’s father drinks a fair amount but is never described as an alcoholic.
- Violence: Wen and her mother feel unsafe at times during her father’s verbal outbursts, but no actual violence occurs.
- Ethnic: Wen and Henry and their families are of Chinese descent
- Sexual orientation: None
Recommended for ages: 10+
Good for kids who like:
- Aussie authors like Nova Weetman
- Stories about platonic boy-girl friendships
- Immigration and assimilation stories
- Books set outside the US
|Publisher details||Allen & Unwin|
|Publication date:||15 August 2023 (US)|
|Cover artists | Designer:|
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