Dragon Chica

Dragon Chica

3.5 2
by May-lee Chai
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Nea, a Chinese Cambodian teenager, has survived the Khmer Rouge only to land in poverty in Texas. Her small family struggles to get by when a miracle occurs. Wealthy and mysterious, Auntie and Uncle write to say they are alive and well, running a Chinese restaurant in Nebraska. As Nea helps pack Hefty bags with meager belongings for a journey into the American Midwest…  See more details below

Overview

Nea, a Chinese Cambodian teenager, has survived the Khmer Rouge only to land in poverty in Texas. Her small family struggles to get by when a miracle occurs. Wealthy and mysterious, Auntie and Uncle write to say they are alive and well, running a Chinese restaurant in Nebraska. As Nea helps pack Hefty bags with meager belongings for a journey into the American Midwest, little does she know their miracle has a dark side. Soon family secrets, small town resentments, lies born of wartime and a forbidden love threaten to tear them apart forever. In the tradition of Holden Caulfield and Scout Finch, Nea must fight to save her family...and herself.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Chai's coming-of-age novel, 11-year-old Nea, who survived the Khmer Rouge with her scrappy mother, beautiful older sister, and younger siblings, leaves Texas for Nebraska to work in the Chinese restaurant owned by her auntie and uncle. But the miracle she'd hoped for is crushed upon arrival: auntie and uncle, once wealthy, are now struggling, and the locals are more bigoted than they were in Texas. It's the 1980s and the Japanese takeover of the U.S. auto industry looms large; though Nea is Chinese and Cambodian, she's still Asian, and treated as "other." Her relentlessly dour life is only occasionally broken by evocatively disquieting, often painful, dreams, memories, and myths that bring shifts in tone readers will welcome. Chai previously mined her own experience for the memoir, Hapa Girl, and the racism she has described enduring informs Nea and her family's experiences. But they are survivors, and as Nea matures she increasingly uses her wits for her own advancement, forging a path to college, though even this hopeful note can't erase the narrative's depressing aura. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
"...a tender story. Sometimes funny, always very much alive..."–Dallas Morning News

"In Chai's coming-of-age novel, 11-year-old Nea, who survived the Khmer Rouge with her scrappy mother, beautiful older sister, and younger siblings, leaves Texas for Nebraska to work in the Chinese restaurant owned by her auntie and uncle. But the miracle she'd hoped for is crushed upon arrival: auntie and uncle, once wealthy, are now struggling, and the locals are more bigoted than they were in Texas..." –Publishers Weekly

“It is very rare that a coming of age novel transcends its inherent limitations and attains the complex emotional resonance of adult fiction. Dragon Chica does this with great aplomb. The book explores with subtlety and depth the mature, universal issues of identity and connection, but it also retains its direct appeal to younger readers. May-lee Chai has performed a remarkable act of literary magic.” –Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

Library Journal
Nea, a Cambodian Chinese refugee living in Dallas with her family, is 11 when readers first meet her. One day her mother receives a letter from her long-lost sister, inviting them to reunite and help run a Chinese restaurant in small-town Nebraska. Auntie and her husband benefit greatly from the arrival of Nea, her siblings, and her hard-working mother. The restaurant initially flounders, but when Nea's older sister, Sourdi, enters into an arranged marriage with a wealthy man, their financial problems are solved. Yet family dynamics are far from rosy, especially because Auntie is mentally ill. Nea misses Sourdi with all her heart. From one crisis to another, feisty Nea proves wise beyond her years, stubbornly fighting her way through a thicket of family secrets and battles. VERDICT Chai, a National Book Award nominee for her family memoir The Girl from Purple Mountain, has crafted a spunky, evocative coming-of-age novel.—Keddy Ann Outlaw, formerly with Harris Cty. P.L., Houston, TX

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781934848708
Publisher:
GemmaMedia
Publication date:
10/01/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
240
File size:
3 MB

What People are saying about this

Robert Olen Butler
It is very rare that a coming of age novel transcends its inherent limitations and attains the complex emotional resonance of adult fiction. Dragon Chica does this with great aplomb. The book explores with subtlety and depth the mature, universal issues of identity and connection, but it also retains its direct appeal to younger readers. May-lee Chai has performed a remarkable act of literary magic. (Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain)

Meet the Author

May-lee Chai is the author of five books, including The Girl from Purple Mountain, which was nominated for a National Book Award. She is the recipient of a 2006 NEA Grant in Literature and has an M.A. from Yale in East Asian Studies and a second M.A. in English-Creative Writing from the University of Colorado in Boulder. A former reporter for the Associated Press, she is currently a Chinese translator for PEN American Center.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Dragon Chica 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gorgeous writing, moving story! I really loved the novel "Dragon Chica," which tells the story of a Cambodian American refugee girl growing up in Texas and Nebraska. I learned a lot about Cambodian culture, but the scenes with the family are what really stuck with me. The characters are vivid and real, flawed but fascinating. The main character, Nea, is brave and tender-hearted, trying to protect her family and help them to overcome the many obstacles they face despite their not always kind treatment of her.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago