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Saints

Overview

China, 1898. An unwanted fourth daughter, Four-Girl isn't even given a proper name by her family. She finds friendship—and a name, Vibiana—in the most unlikely of places: Christianity. But China is a dangerous place for Christians. The Boxer Rebellion is murdering Westerners and Chinese Christians alike. Torn between her nation and her Christian friends, Vibiana will have to decide where her true loyalties lie . . . and whether she is willing ...

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Saints

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Overview

China, 1898. An unwanted fourth daughter, Four-Girl isn't even given a proper name by her family. She finds friendship—and a name, Vibiana—in the most unlikely of places: Christianity. But China is a dangerous place for Christians. The Boxer Rebellion is murdering Westerners and Chinese Christians alike. Torn between her nation and her Christian friends, Vibiana will have to decide where her true loyalties lie . . . and whether she is willing to die for her faith.

——

Boxers & Saints is a groundbreaking graphic novel in two volumes. This innovative format presents two parallel tales about young people caught up on opposite sides of a violent rift. Saints tells Vibiana's story, and the companion volume, Boxers, tells the story of Little Bao, a young man who joins the Boxer Rebellion. American Born Chinese author Gene Luen Yang brings his trademark magical realism to the complexities of the Boxer Rebellion, and lays bare the universal foundations of extremism, rebellion, and faith.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

The fourth daughter of Chinese parents was so unwanted that her parents never bothered to give her a proper name. They just called her "Four-Girl." She found a new home and even a name (Vibiana) among Christians, but her conversion came at the worst possible time: in 1898, when China's Boxer rebels were slaughtering Westerners and Christians with equal abandoned. Endangered, yet unwilling to abandon her faith, this young girl willed herself into becoming a maiden warrior. Gene Luen Yang

The New York Times Book Review - Wesley Yang
The indie comic artist Gene Luen Yang, a child of Taiwanese immigrants to the United States and an observant Roman Catholic, wrestles with the central ambiguity of colonialism throughout his remarkable set of linked graphic novels, Boxers and Saints…The nuance conveyed in the dialectical design of the companion volumes counteracts the mythmaking that can result from combining history and fable in comic book form.
Publishers Weekly
★ 08/12/2013
In the companion to Boxers, Yang shifts focus to Four-Girl, a mistreated Chinese girl who decides to become a Christian despite the heavy cultural stigma it carries. Although her initial reason for converting is misguided (she’s mainly a fan of the snacks she receives), she eventually embraces the religion and, inspired by visions of Joan of Arc, is spurred to become a “maiden warrior” for God. To prove her faith, Four-Girl (newly christened Vibiana) charges herself with defending Peking, which has become a refuge for foreigners and Christians from the approaching Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fist. As in Boxers, the climactic battle is brutal; established characters meet their demises quickly and unceremoniously. Read separately, the books are honest and revealing character studies of two differing Chinese perspectives during the Boxer Rebellion. Together, they resonate electrically, partly due to their mirrored plots, but more so for capturing the historical context and dueling psychologies (the group vs. the self, national pride vs. spiritual pride) that underlie this political and cultural conflict. Ages 12–up. Agent: Judith Hansen, Hansen Literary Agency. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
"A masterful work of historical fiction that happens to be in the form of a graphic novel, and a very accessible view into a complicated moment in Chinese history."

—Dave Eggers

"In Boxers and Saints, Gene Luen Yang once again masterfully draws us into the most difficult issues of self-identity and communal understanding, with characters who struggle to act out of their deepest cultural and spiritual selves.  But when they find that their commitments lead them in terrible, frightening directions—one toward massacres, another toward martyrdom—they must ask questions for which there are no easy answers.  The brilliance of this novel—and I mean, aside from the brilliance in the telling of a major historical episode about which most North Americans know very little and which provides some critical lessons in political relationships—the brilliance lies in the merger of fast action and humor and very real characters and startling graphics with a shattering sense of the brokenness of the world and our terrible need for compassion.  Read this, and come away shaking."

— National Book Award Finalist and Newbery Honor winner Gary Schmidt, author of Okay for Now and The Wednesday Wars

VOYA - Rebecca Denham
Four-Girl is the unwanted daughter of a poor farming family in late nineteenth-century China who discovers acceptance and purpose with Christian missionaries. But unrest is fomenting in China's native population; soon rebels against Western influence will endanger foreigners and Chinese Christians alike. Throughout the novel Four-Girl has conversations with Joan of Arc through visions only she can see. These visions convince Four-Girl of the truth of the Christian God and shape many of her decisions. Parallels between Four-Girl and Joan are rampant throughout the novel, but Four-Girl ultimately decides on the path of peace rather than violence. Yang uses his trademark clean artwork to introduce readers to a pivotal moment in Chinese history. Four-Girl is an unwanted female child whose family cares so little for her that she is not even given a real name. Readers will enjoy Four-Girl's perspective with her straightforward, wry observations and feisty personality. The historical elements of the story are fundamental to the events of this graphic novel, but secondary to Four-Girl's evolution into a young woman of faith and conviction. While there may not be wide teen appeal, readers interested in Chinese history or strong female characters will enjoy Yang's new graphic novel. Further reading suggestions are provided for teens who would like to learn more about China's Boxer Rebellion. Overall, the book is intriguing and thought provoking. Reviewer: Rebecca Denham
Children's Literature - Leona Illig
The Boxer Rebellion in China in 1898 was a complex, bloody conflict that pitted family against family, religion against religion, and native people against foreigners. At its core, it was an anti-foreigner, anti-Christian movement, but there were many complicating factors, including the spread of opium into China, which many blamed on foreign influences. The difficulties and brutalities of the conflict are dramatized in the character of an unwanted and unloved little Chinese girl named Four-Girl. Mistreated by her family, she seeks help from some Chinese Christians, who give her a new name: Vibiana. They try to teach her about Christianity, with mixed results. Vibiana sees visions of Joan of Arc, and their two stories are woven together. Vibiana aspires to becoming a maiden warrior and heroine who will save the Christians in China, but readers will have to judge for themselves whether her life, and death, make a difference in the struggle between two cultures. This book is a companion to Boxers, which tells about the conflict from a different point-of-view. It is recommended that the two books be read together, with Boxers first. There is no doubt that he Boxer Rebellion had many sides to it. This book does a good job of capturing those complexities, but the graphic novel format may not be the ideal presentation for this kind of subject matter. Most pages contain five to six panels. The drawings are generally in brown and gray tones, in keeping with the gravity of the theme. A list of additional books about the Boxer Rebellion is contained at the back. Reviewer: Leona Illig; Ages 12 up.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Acclaimed graphic novelist Yang brings his talents to historical fiction in these paired novels set during China's Boxer Rebellion (1899–1900). In Boxers, life in Little Bao's peaceful rural village is disrupted when "foreign devils"-a priest and his phalanx of soldiers-arrive. The foreigners behave with astonishing arrogance, smashing the village god, appropriating property, and administering vicious beatings for no reason. Little Bao and his older brothers train in kung fu and swordplay in order to defend against them, and when Little Bao learns how to tap into the power of the Chinese gods, he becomes the leader of a peasant army, eventually marching to Beijing. Saints follows a lonely girl from a neighboring village. Unwanted by her family, Four-Girl isn't even given a proper name until she converts to Catholicism and is baptized-by the very same priest who bullies Little Bao's village. Four-Girl, now known as Vibiana, leaves home and finds fulfillment in service to the Church, while Little Bao roams the countryside committing acts of increasing violence as his army grows. Mysticism plays a part in both stories, and Yang's spare, clean drawing style makes it clear that Vibiana's visits from Joan of Arc and Bao's invocation of the powerful Chinese gods are very real to these characters. The juxtaposition of these opposing points of view, both of them sympathetic, makes for powerful, thought-provoking storytelling about a historical period that is not well known in the West.—Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596436893
  • Publisher: First Second
  • Publication date: 9/10/2013
  • Series: Boxers & Saints Series , #2
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 220,761
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Gene Luen Yang began drawing comic books in the fifth grade. He was an established figure in the indie comics scene when he published his first book with First Second, American Born Chinese, which is now in print in over ten languages. American Born Chinese's critical and commercial success, along with its status as a National Book Award finalist and winner of the Printz Award, catapulted Yang into stardom as a major voice of our times. Boxers & Saints is his most recent graphic novel.

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