Monday, September 04, 2006


Book: Angelfish
Author: Lawrence Yep
Published: 2001

Robin Lee is in big trouble. If her parents find out she broke the window at the Dragon Palace, they’ll ground her, and if that happens, she won’t get to dance the part of Beauty in her ballet recital. To keep that from happening, Robin agrees to work in the shop after school to pay off the cost of the window.

Sometimes she thinks that just letting her parents find out would be better, though. Her new boss, Mr. Tsao, is a permanently crabby old man, forever calling her names like “bunhead” and “half person,” (because Robin is only half Chinese) and mocking her passion for ballet. The only time his gentleness ever shows through is with the fish in the shop, especially his treasured angelfish. Is it remotely possible that this Beast will ever allow himself to be helped?

In the third book of the series featuring Robin Lee (the first two are Ribbons and The Cook’s Family), Yep digs deeper into recent Chinese history as well as some of the difficulties of growing up rooted in two different worlds. Though the whole story is told through Robin’s eyes, the real hero of the story is the wounded, angry Mr. Tsao, whose losses are almost unimaginable to Robin. But they are life experiences for him, not to mention Robin’s grandmother, and many of her friends throughout San Francisco’s Chinatown. The ending seems to come a little too quickly and rosily, but Robin’s continuing journey through her own background will be compelling.

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