Review: Finally Seen by Kelly Yang

Finally Seen by Kelly Yang

Finally Seen
Kelly Yang
Simon & Schuster
Published February 28, 2023

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Finally Seen

From the New York Times bestselling author of Front Desk comes a gripping middle grade novel about a young girl who leaves China to live with her parents and sister, after five years apart, and learns about family, friendship, and the power of being finally seen.

My sister got to grow up with my parents. Me? I grew up with postcards from my parents.

When ten-year-old Lina Gao steps off the plane in Los Angeles, it’s her first time in America and the first time seeing her parents and her little sister in five years! She’s been waiting for this moment every day while she lived with her grandmother in Beijing, getting teased by kids at school who called her “left behind girl.” Finally, her parents are ready for her to join their fabulous life in America! Except, it’s not exactly like in the postcards:

1. School’s a lot harder than she thought. When she mispronounces some words in English on the first day, she decides she simply won’t talk. Ever again.

2. Her chatty little sister has no problem with English. And seems to do everything better than Lina, including knowing exactly the way to her parents’ hearts.

3. They live in an apartment, not a house like in Mom’s letters, and they owe a lot of back rent from the pandemic. And Mom’s plan to pay it back sounds more like a hobby than a moneymaker.

As she reckons with her hurt, Lina tries to keep a lid on her feelings, both at home and at school. When her teacher starts facing challenges for her latest book selection, a book that deeply resonates with Lina, it will take all of Lina’s courage and resilience to get over her fear in order to choose a future where she’s finally seen.

Finally Seen on Goodreads

My Review

FINALLY SEEN is the first book by Kelly Yang that I’ve ever read, though her books have been on my reading list for a while. I absolutely loved this one.

Lina is thoughtful and deep, and her relationships with her family members and friends are often complex and layered. I really enjoyed the development of her connections with her sister and with her teachers at school.

I also loved the way books, especially graphic novels, featured in the story as tools to encourage empathy and understanding. Reading the book FLEA SHOP became an important moment for Lina in her own journey toward feeling truly seen. I loved that the story explored the impact of stories in that way and that books were part of helping Lina find her voice.

Reading didn’t only impact Lina, though. Her classmate and friend also found comfort and courage through reading, and when their parents read the books important to their kids, they learned some powerful lessons, too. That was one of my favorite things, too. As a big believer in adults reading things their kids are interested in, that definitely resonated with me.

All in all, FINALLY SEEN is a fantastic book. I can’t wait to read more by Kelly Yang.

Finally Seen on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.

Lina and her family have emigrated from China to southern California.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content
Lina briefly wonders if she feels attraction toward a boy in her class. She decides it’s only that he is doing something cute rather than that she thinks he’s cute.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
Lina reads a book in which classmates make racist comments to a Chinese American girl. Lina encounters racist comments from her father’s employer and her classmates.

Drug Content

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of FINALLY SEEN in exchange for my honest review.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

2 Responses to Review: Finally Seen by Kelly Yang

  1. I’m a huge fan of Kelly Yang. I’m glad you liked this book so much. I haven’t read it yet. I hope you get to read other books by her. Natalie @ Literary Rambles