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The train swings around the curve. Its one headlight races toward us. High on the engine's nose, a window glints. The ground is shaking. I watch the train. It comes closer and closer. I dash to the tracks, watching a fence on the other side. Noise and wind swallow me. I jump.
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Jason is seventeen. He spends most of his time helping his immigrant mother run their Chinese deli at the mall. His chief complaint about working there, besides the fact that he works for free, is that people don't look at him when they stop to place an order. Just because he is Chinese it's like they expect him to speak broken English and not have a brain.
Shortly after the family arrived in the U.S., Jason's father left to run off with a younger woman, leaving Jason's mother to handle the business, Jason, and his little brother, Josh, who is fourteen years younger than Jason. His mother is constantly urging him to make friends at school and bring them home with him. But there are two problems with that: 1) no one at school is interested in a friendship with an oddball like Jason, and 2) when he does finally bring a few buddies home, his mother doesn't approve.
Jason's few acquaintances help him discover that a little bit of pot certainly helps make his life more bearable. He knows his mother would never approve, but she doesn't pay enough attention for it to be a real problem. As his frustration with working at the deli for nothing and taking the odd twenty dollar bill from his mother's purse becomes more of a hassle, Jason thinks maybe becoming a dealer would offer enough money and product to keep him satisfied.
However, this new deal also comes with complications, and they might be more than Jason can handle.
Author Paul Yee brings his Chinese-Canadian background to LEARNING TO FLY. His characters and their life struggles ring true and are likely to connect well with teen readers. Written in a fast-paced, easy-to-read style, this book should be successful with reluctant readers.