Parachute Kids by Betty C. Tang

Published by Graphix

Summary:  10-year-old Feng-Li is excited to be visiting America for the first time on what she thinks is a vacation, but a week in, she discovers her father packing to leave.  Turns out, her parents have decided that she and her older siblings Jia-Xi and Ke-Gāng will settle in America, where they’ll have more opportunities, and their parents will return to Taiwan and earn money to support the kids.  At first, nearby family friends help out, but when the father of that family gets transferred, the kids are really on their own.  Jia-Xi is trying to prepare for the SAT’s while taking care of the house and kids; Ke-Gāng is struggling with the fact that he’s gay and that the trouble he got into back home caused his parents to want the kids out of Taiwan; and Feng-Li is just trying to learn enough English to make a friend and to keep her siblings from their constant bickering.  As one catastrophe follows another, the kids try to keep things going, and Feng-Li is forced to grow up fast to keep her family from falling apart.  Includes an author’s note about her own experiences as a parachute kid, and how she used those experiences and those of other immigrant friends to create this story.  288 pages; grades 4-8.

Pros:  A compelling graphic novel about a family faced with some unimaginably difficult times, and the three brave kids who are able to admit their mistakes and work hard to make things better.  As Betty Tang says in the author’s note, “We need more diverse books, so eventually, everyone can find a piece of themselves reflected and their voices heard.”  The Lins’ story adds another voice to that canon.  

Cons:  I was hoping Ke-Gāng would be able to come out to his family by the end of the story, but it didn’t happen.

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