Sue and Andy really like each other. Sue, a Chinese American teenager, doesn’t want it to matter that classmate Andy is Japanese American, and vice versa, but, unfortunately, their families do mind the cultural separation. When their high school orchestra takes a trip to Tokyo, the teenagers stay with host families and are able to learn about the Japanese culture firsthand, as well as learn to deal with the prejudice and stereotypes that they encounter. As Sue and Andy struggle with the conflicts that their ancestry presents, they learn a lot about themselves and each other as individuals. Their do-good and be-liked attitudes and the adolescent insecurities portrayed by Sue and Andy are often annoying but realistic, and the attitudes they encounter from others are too often universal.
While the overpowering message of the story sometimes stands in the way of a true emotional bond between reader and characters, the story remains upbeat and enjoyable to read. Namioka is obviously sending a message to readers about the need to respect and appreciate cultural differences, as well as the importance of discovering and maintaining a sense of self. This is an easy read and it includes a lot of interesting anecdotal information about Chinese and Japanese culture and history.
Call number: YA NAMIOKA (Teen Room)