Summary: You Are Here: Connecting Flights
You Are Here: Connecting Flights is a series of interconnected stories (a different one per chapter) about 12 Asian-American kids at the international terminal of a major airport. We follow each kid as they deal with microaggressions, disdain, and outright racism. This collection was edited by Ellen Oh and features stories from a star-studded group of authors, including Christina Soontornvat, Erin Entrada Kelly, and Linda Sue Park.
I’m always wary of short story collections and interconnected stories because usually half of the stories are so boring, they weigh down the entire book and I can’t get through it. It’s also a bit disorienting to meet a new character and be invested in their world every 20 pages or so. But this collection is SOLID. All the authors are experts at storytelling and I couldn’t choose one favorite at the end. I’ll tell you about three of my favorite stories/characters.
First up is Paul. He’s traveling with his family and Thai grandmother, but unbeknownst to Paul and his parents, his grandmother is also transporting her late husband’s ashes in a coffee can. She hasn’t revealed this to TSA, and Paul finds out just before they have to go through security. The whole situation causes a kerfuffle that, of course, leads to some microaggressions from a particular woman who resurfaces in several of the stories.
My other favorite is about a kid who plays the guitar (I can’t remember this character’s name — I listened to the audiobook). The airport security is convinced that the contents of his guitar case can’t possibly be a guitar because… he’s Asian. Apparently Asians only play the piano or the violin. He has to do something to stop them from confiscating his instrument.
The final favorite is a story of two sisters, one of whom keeps wearing a mask to hide the fact that she’s Asian after suffering intense mockery at school for being the source of the COVID-19 pandemic. And she’s not even Chinese! (Not that Chinese should be mocked — but goes to show the height of ignorance.) All of these stories aren’t easy to read and each kid responds differently to their challenges, highlighting the breadth of the Asian-American experience.
Overall: You Are Here: Connecting Flights
You Are Here: Connecting Flights is an excellent collection of interconnected short stories about the wide range of the Asian-American experience. It explores the prejudice that people of Asian descent continue to experience. This is a stunning piece of literature that is accessible, informative, moving, and inspiring for kids and adults of all ages.