In this fourth novel of the Anna Wang series, seventh-grader Anna can hardly believe her waitress friend from China is coming to America.
Through a cultural exchange program, Anna and Andee invite Fan to live in their Cincinnati neighborhood during the school year. While there, Fan will attend Fenwick High School to learn to speak English more fluently, which can help her get a better job back in Beijing. The plan calls for Fan to live with Andee, but Anna becomes concerned that the two won’t get along, given their backgrounds. Fan lives in an alley with other migrant families who cook on electric hot plates, while Andee lives with her well-to-do family in a big house with a stove sporting six burners. Anna’s fears are realized when Andee becomes distant and seems all too relieved to leave Fan at Anna’s house for the weekends. Emphasizing that she must get good grades for her family’s sake, Fan buries herself in her studies, which doesn’t leave time for much else. The threesome’s friendship feels genuinely complicated and endearing, with communication mishaps, cultural differences, and unmet, early teen expectations. A true understanding among the three starts to grow, as Fan begins to share her migrant life in both conversation and writing. One essay and poem, in particular, that she shares with Anna are memorable.
This unique sisterhood beats with a gentle heart. (pronunciation guide) (Fiction. 8-10)