Finally Seen by Kelly Yang

Published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

Summary:  Lina has lived in China with her grandmother since her parents and younger sister left for the U.S. five years earlier.  Now she is finally going to join them.  When she arrives, she discovers that her family isn’t living the middle-class suburban life her parents described to her.  Her dad works night and day for a curmudgeonly organic farmer, and her mom, who lost her job during the pandemic, is scrambling to put together an Etsy business selling bath bombs to try to pay their back rent.  In school, Lina is afraid to speak after some classmates make fun of her accent.  A kind ELL teacher and librarian help her to come out of her shell, showing her the power of books to reflect her immigrant experience.  Lina feels guilty about leaving her grandmother, who’s now living in a nursing home, and decides to create a graphic novel to bring her up to date on her new life.  This project gives her a boost of confidence and helps her to find her voice.  When a parent attempts to get a book banned from her classroom, Lina discovers the power of speaking up for what she believes is right.  304 pages; grades 4-7.

Pros:  Kelly Yang has written another book about the immigrant experience with a memorable main character and a tremendous amount of heart.  I was engaged immediately and couldn’t put the book down until I found out what happened to Lina and her friends and family. Keep the Kleenexes handy for the scene where Lina speaks at the school board meeting about book banning.

Cons:  I do love a happy ending, but just like in Front Desk, I felt like things fell into place a little too quickly to wrap up the multiple story lines.

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