I had forgotten what it was like to be a little girl, think like a little girl, and maneuver through friendships as a little girl. In The Year of the Book, Andrea Cheng does a beautiful job putting us in the headspace of Anna Wang, a young girl in the fourth grade.
Like any little girl in the fourth grade, Anna finds it a challenge navigating through life at that age with complicated friendships. When her friend Laura wants to hang out with another girl, Alison, she wants to cry after, yet cannot quite understand her emotions; this isn't necessarily the loss of innocence but a foreshadowing of the human condition and the emotive forces that engulf us all as we age.
Anna finds solace in her books. Reading is the one constant in her life and books bring her joy, comfort, companionship and insight into the constantly evolving world around her. As a reader it’s fun to travel with her through A Wrinkle in Time and My Side of the Mountain. It’s fascinating also to learn that the characters for The Year of the Book were based on the author’s two children and herself; little wonder that the voices resonated convincingly amongst the prose.
“Alison is a skinny girl with brown hair and sweater sets. Now she whispers something to Lucy and looks sideways at Laura. She’s a whispering kind of girl.”
Andrea Cheng not only engages the reader with her characters and their family issues, but also manages to teach us a few essential Chinese words.
Xiè xiè (shieh sheih)
“thank you” for reading this Sukasa Reads review.
All in all, The Year of the Book is a delightful read and we give it 4/5 Sukasa Stars.