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Year of the Dog

by Grace Lin

genre: YA fiction

Synopsis from Goodreads

It’s the Chinese Year of the Dog, and as Pacy celebrates with her family, she finds out that this is the year she is supposed to “find herself.” Universal themes of friendship, family, and finding one’s passion in life make this novel appealing to readers of all backgrounds. This funny and profound book is a wonderful debut novel by a prolific picture book author and illustrator and has all the makings of a classic.

I recommend Year of the Dog to kids and teens with mixed cultures. Once again I’ve mistakenly picked up a book in which I am clearly not the target audience. Pacy is a Chinese American girl who struggles a little with finding her place in a predominantly Caucasian school. One the one hand, some Chinese girls make fun of her for only being able to speak English. On the other hand, she’s told she can’t try out for Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz because Dorothy isn’t Chinese.

It was cute and well written, but I couldn’t relate. As soon as there’s another Chinese girl in her class, they become best friends, dropping her previous best friend. While it was very amicable, it rubbed me the wrong way. I realize I cannot relate to the excitement or instant bond of finding another person from your home culture, but several of my friends growing up were Asian and I couldn’t help but wonder why her original best friend could not have been included into the group rather than replaced. I don’t think that is how the author intended that dynamic to come off, but that’s how it sounded to me.

Overall, I give it a 3 out of 5. It’s a really good book for a niche demographic of which I am not a part.

You might like this book if:

  • You are looking for a middle grade or lower level book.
  • You’re interested in Chinese culture or astrology.
  • You’re looking for a book with a multicultural main character.

amazonbutton copy-Eliabeth Hawthorne