Twelve year old Peter Lee and his family are avid baseball fans. Even his strict Chinese immigrant father Ba -who has Peter do homework on the way to games- has some regard for the sport. However, once tragedy strikes, and takes with it a cherished loved one, no one talks about baseball anymore. Peter’s mom stops talking altogether. Convinced that what brought them together before can keep them together now, Peter joins a Little League team.
The only problem? The league is short one coach. Ba steps in to seemingly save the day, but his methods rub Peter and his teammates the wrong way. Now what Peter thought was a sure fire way to bring his splintering family back together seems like a plan that was doomed from the start.
The novel follows Peter through his mourning process without forgetting that he’s twelve and probably won’t deal with loss the way someone older would. Peter cries, gets angry – he goes through every stage of grief until he’s finally able to begin moving on. He makes new friends, he helps his little sister with a bake sale, he even manages to develop a crush on the daughter of a family friend. Over the course of two hundred pages Peter’s growth is candid and sincere, making him a narrator everyone can root for and be proud of.
The Way Home Looks Now is author Wendy Wan-Long Shang‘s second novel, after the acclaim of her first The Great Wall of Lucy Wu. The novel is an evenly paced, every day adventure through grief, mourning, and acceptance. Shang’s characters are brightly written. Set post-Cold War in America, Shang elegantly and honestly captures the dynamics between immigrant parents holding onto their culture and first generation children caught between tradition and assimilation. Shang’s writing takes you through the grieving process of a family on an individual level through a first person narrative – something that shows off Shang’s writing ability and Peter Lee’s interpersonal communication/relationship skills.
The Way Home Looks Now is excellent realistic fiction for elementary and middle schoolers. But the novel is so accessible and relatable that anyone could pick it up and take something away from it. Shang’s cozy writing style and deft skill with family dynamics are sure to warm the heart and not to disappoint.
- Posted by Nailah