April and the Dragon Lady

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Overview

April Chen is happily planning to go away to college, and she has a great new boyfriend, Steve. But April, the only girl in the family, must take care of Grandma, and Grandma--the Dragon Lady--hates Steve and has other plans for April. Caught between two cultures, the teenager finally realizes she must find a way to define herself on her own terms.

Feeling confined by the traditional family attitudes of her strong-willed, manipulative grandmother, sixteen-year-old ...

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Overview

April Chen is happily planning to go away to college, and she has a great new boyfriend, Steve. But April, the only girl in the family, must take care of Grandma, and Grandma--the Dragon Lady--hates Steve and has other plans for April. Caught between two cultures, the teenager finally realizes she must find a way to define herself on her own terms.

Feeling confined by the traditional family attitudes of her strong-willed, manipulative grandmother, sixteen-year-old April Chen fights for her independence.

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Editorial Reviews

The ALAN Review - Tracy Jeane Babiasz
April Chen's grandmother insists on following Chinese traditions while April wants to carve a place for herself as an American. Her boyfriend Steve does not understand why she misses activities to look after her grandmother while her brother takes no responsibility. April gradually becomes dissatisfied with allowing her manipulative grandmother to run her life, but not until Grandma's meddling threatens her future plans does she stand up for her beliefs. Namioka's description of Chinese traditions in an American home will surprise readers and inspire cheers as April realizes she does not have to sacrifice her interests for the males of her family. Ironically, she discovers that she resembles her grandmother in continuing to fight for what she wants. Namioka addresses with honesty and compassion the issue of placing forgetful grandparents in nursing homes. Although the discovery that April's father is considering remarriage is a little rushed, the ending in which her grandmother demonstrates potential for change is satisfying.
Merri Monks
April Chen, a Chinese American high-school junior, lives in Seattle with her widowed father; her brother, Harry; and her Grandma, the "Dragon Lady." Harry, the first-born son, is very much favored by Grandma, but as Grandma's health begins to fail, it is April who must relinquish important activities, one by one, to care for the elderly woman. April's story, rich in authentic detail, tells of a young woman's journey from one culture to another as she simultaneously travels from childhood to adulthood. The conflict between April and her grandmother, interwoven with several subplots, forms a complex but very readable novel. April must contend with her family's disapproval of her Caucasian boyfriend. She also struggles with the constraints of her traditional female role, enviously watching her indulged brother's total freedom. April's surprise ally is her father, Grandma's elder, but not favored, son, who falls in love with Ellen, also a Mandarin-speaking Chinese, but a divorced college professor and not liked by Grandma. As both April and her father escape Grandma, leaving Harry to contend with the source of his lifelong pampering and adoration, April receives a jade bracelet from Grandma, a symbol of love and the beginning of change.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152766443
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
  • Publication date: 5/1/1994
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 4.44 (w) x 7.17 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author


LENSEY NAMIOKA is the author of several books for children and young adults, including Ties That Bind, Ties That Break; Mismatch; and Half and Half. She lives in Seattle, Washington.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 3, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Marta Morrison for TeensReadToo.com

    April is Chinese-American. She lives with her father, brother, and grandmother in Seattle, Washington. When the story begins, April is a junior in high school. She plays in her school's orchestra and belongs to the geology club. April loves rocks. She wants to go to school in Colorado to study geology, but there is a big problem - GRANDMA. <BR/><BR/>Grandma came to live with them when April was small. April's mother was so distraught that she went to work at the local library, until she died two years ago from lung cancer. <BR/><BR/>In Chinese-American families, the most important family members are the boys. The girls don't count for much. April, growing up in America, is having trouble being submissive, especially to her spoiled, doted-on brother. <BR/><BR/>When Grandma is diagnosed with diabetes and begins showing signs of senility, it is expected that April take care of her. April is torn between being the good Chinese daughter and pursuing her dreams of going to college and becoming a geologist. Her brother is so self-centered that April has to give up being in the orchestra and belonging to her rock club. Will she have to give up all of her dreams? <BR/><BR/>I enjoyed reading APRIL AND THE DRAGON LADY and did so in about a week while reading three other books. April is a good character and her fight is interesting. The characters learned a lot during the length of the story about family, love, culture, independence, and giving to others. I highly recommend reading this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2003

    i loved it!

    A real touching story of a young girl and her extraordinary life. Highly recommended.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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