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Paul Yee
Toronto, Groundwood Books/Douglas & McIntyre, 1994.
144pp, paper, $7.95, ISBN 0-88899-201-7.
(Groundwood Young Adult.) CIP

Subject Headings:
Chinese Canadians-British Columbia-Vancouver-Juvenile fiction.
Soccer players-British Columbia-Vancouver-Juvenile fiction.
Racism-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up

Reviewed by Margaret Mackey

Volume 22 Number 4
1994 September

Paul Yee has written a rich and detailed account of one boy's life in the Chinese community around Vancouver during the Great Depression. Kwok-ken Wong works hard on his father's farm, studies intensively to meet his mother's ambition for him to attend university, and plays soccer with the school team. Poverty plagues the farm, and racism in the white community undermines his other activities.

Kwok does not seem to belong anywhere. His white schoolmates ignore him and he is banned from the local all-star team and rejected for a scholarship because he is Chinese. On the other hand, he does not want to associate with the Chinese community in Vancouver; he scorns their drinking and gambling ways.

Yee does a good job of conveying the complexity and ambivalence of Kwok-ken's life. He does not gloss over the drawbacks of life on a poor farm, and he makes no attempt to disguise the crippling sexism in Chinese customs which deny all opportunities to Kwok's sister Ying. Kwok's increasing bitterness over his inability to fit in anywhere is well handled.

The ending is rather abrupt and somewhat sentimental. The white characters are, without exception, weak and prejudiced. Nevertheless, this book contributes a valuable picture of a fascinating and complex time and world.

Margaret Mackey is a Ph.D. student at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta

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