I have a bad habit of taking new books from our Little Free Library, but some of them sound so good! This book by Jana Laiz was one of them, and it’s a feel-good story if I’ve ever read one. And it’s based on actual events.
Mei is from a Chinese family living in Vietnam during war time. Her parents are sending her and two of her siblings out of the country. Scared and uncertain, Mei, her brother Tuan, and little sister Linh are sent away on a ship. They stay in Malaysia for awhile, but eventually end up in New York.
Hannah lives in a New York suburb, and is a social outcast. She was dropped by her friends upon entering high school, and doesn’t know what she can do to survive for two more years. Her passion for helping people eventually gets her involved with Vietnamese refugees.
Hannah doesn’t know Vietnamese and Mei doesn’t know English, but they form a friendship regardless. Hannah brings Mei’s family and the other refugees the good they need to survive in their new home. Mei and her siblings find a surrogate family in their neighbors and Hannah.
There are two very distinct voices for the girls. Mei is very factual and states what’s happening without much feeling. She mentions multiple times that it is not her family’s way to express affection or emotions. Hannah on the other hand, is a raging ball of emotions. She is constantly angry and fighting for a cause– the angsty teenager embodied. Together, the girls both have brighter voices.
I love how simple this story is in its conclusion: people coming together to make each other happier, and they form a lifelong friendship.
Side note: not sure what a Little Free Library is? Want to find out? Check out my post about it here.