Review of Maizy Chen's Last Chance

Maizy Chen’s Last Chance
by Lisa Yee
Intermediate, Middle School    Random    288 pp.    g
2/22    978-1-9848-3025-8    $16.99
Library ed.  978-1-9848-3026-5    $19.99
e-book ed.  978-1-9848-3028-9    $9.99

Eleven-year-old Maizy and her mother leave fast-paced Los Angeles to spend the summer in languorous Last Chance, Minnesota. Oma and Opa, Maizy’s grandparents, own Golden Palace, the only Chinese restaurant in the area. Although she finds life in the Midwest boring at first, Maizy begins to make friends and connect more deeply with her family. As she spends time with her sick grandfather, Maizy learns about the history of those who came before her — in particular, her great-great-grandfather Lucky, whose fascinating life story is told in interspersed flashbacks. As Maizy learns about Lucky’s struggles against racism, she also confronts microaggressions and hate crimes that still plague Last Chance. Told through the eyes of a spirited and likable protagonist, the story explores evergreen issues of immigration, intergenerational trauma, and the many dark aspects of U.S. history alongside Lucky’s adventures with “sailing ships, outlaws, and a gold mountain.” Through this captivating story of the Chen family legacy, Yee (Millicent Min, Girl Genius, rev. 9/03; The Kidney Hypothetical, rev. 5/15) makes the personal political, and prompts readers to consider what it means to be American.

From the January/February 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Gabi Kim Huesca

Gabi Kim Huesca is a librarian at the Fairfax County Public Library. She holds a master's degree in library and information science from the University of Maryland.

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