Review of Finally Seen

Finally Seen Finally Seen
by Kelly Yang
Intermediate    Simon    304 pp.
2/23    9781534488335    $17.99
e-book ed.  9781534488359    $10.99

This contemporary immigrant tale follows a Beijing girl as she reunites with her parents and younger sister in California after five years of separation. Lina Gao, ten, thinks that her father is a successful microbiologist who owns a big house. ­Reality kicks in when the fifth grader discovers that her father is a farm worker, the family lives in a cramped ­apartment, and her mother sells bath bombs online in hopes of covering the back rent. Yang does a skillful job in portraying Lina’s multitude of emotions. There’s the sadness of leaving her grandmother behind in a Chinese nursing home and the isolation and ­loneliness stemming from language barriers. Issues of racism and class come up when her parents struggle to be paid fairly and to get updates on their green card ­applications, Lina is teased at school, and a graphic novel with an Asian American protagonist is targeted for censorship. The most poignant scenes occur as Lina slowly removes the “invisible thread” that prevents her from freely ­expressing herself, especially when ESL teacher Mrs. Ortiz tells her that even though immigrants are “burdened with a lot of guilt,” it is important to remember that “your dreams matter. You matter. Never forget that.”

From the January/February 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Michelle Lee

Michelle Lee is a young adult librarian for the New York Public Library.

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