When a social shift at school leaves Anna without her best friend, she turns to books for companionship. When she feels pressure in Chinese class because she doesn’t know as much as the other kids, books are her refuge. But as the people in Anna’s life begin to experience troubles of their own, she learns that sometimes, just like the heroes in her stories, she must step out into the unknown and offer help. Sometimes, Anna learns, this is precisely what makes for the best friendships.
Anna charmed me from the first page. I loved the descriptions of the stories she read, and though I hadn’t read all of them myself, it was easy to understand why the stories mattered to her. I liked that she found herself faced with other people’s needs. Reading is awesome, but sometimes it isolates us from others. And when people in Anna’s life needed things, it drew her out of her books and allowed opportunities for her to have relationships with them. I loved the sweet, subtle way the author explores learning how to be a good friend.
I also liked the sense of community in the story. Anna’s class experience felt very real, and her relationship with the elderly man her mother cares for also felt authentic and added a lot to the story.
Anna and her family are Chinese American. She takes Chinese classes with other kids her age, but finds it frustrating not to know as much as they do because her mother insists on speaking English to her at home.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Brief references to Chinese traditions.
At one point a man bangs on the door of Anna’s family’s apartment looking for his daughter, Anna’s friend. The girls are scared, but Anna’s parents send the man away.