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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Kelly Yang's Finally Seen is a timely tale about a 10-year-old Chinese girl named Lina who faces racism and censorship when she moves to America to be with her family. Readers will also learn about the immigrant experience, sustainability, organic farming, and climate change. Important themes include friendship, family, kindness, communication, empathy, courage, and perseverance. Diverse representations include Chinese, Guatemalan, and Black characters. Racism and bullying are significant parts of the story. Kids call Lina "Leftover Lina" because her parents left her behind in China when they moved to America with her younger sister. Characters also make fun of Lina because she's still learning English and sometimes mixes up her words and mispronounces them. Lina and her family are told not to speak Chinese at the farm. A girl vandalizes a bathroom stall with hurtful comments about Lina's English skills. A character's mom tries to get a graphic novel banned at Lina's school. Lina's parents are worried about making enough money to pay for their back rent from the pandemic. Finn's dad gets angry and drops Finn's library book onto a greasy pizza. Lina's grandma tells her that boys and girls can't be friends. Boys at school make fun of Finn and say he likes Lina. At one point, Lina questions if she thinks Finn is cute. Characters use variations of "stupid," "butt," "nerd," and "shut up."
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What's the Story?
Ten-year-old Lina Gao is excited to finally be reunited with her parents and younger sister, Millie. After all, it's been five years since they moved to California and left her behind in Beijing with her grandma. But life in America isn't how her mom described it in her postcards. First, Lina wonders if her parents like Millie more than her since she isn't in any of the family photos. Her dad does grueling fieldwork for a racist organic farmer who says he'll help them get their green card. And her mom runs an Etsy bath bomb business out of their one-bedroom apartment so that they can pay their back rent from the pandemic.
On top of that, Lina has been struggling at school after her classmates bully her for mispronouncing words in English. With the help of her caring, supportive teachers, Lina discovers graphic novels that make her feel like she belongs. But what happens when a parent tries to ban Lina's favorite book from the classroom? Will Lina find the courage to speak up so she's FINALLY SEEN at school and home?
Is It Any Good?
This is a timely tale for kids about family, friendship, communication, courage, and perseverance. Yang continues to do an excellent job describing the immigrant experience, including the racism and discrimination that immigrants face at school and in the workplace. It's hard to be the new kid in school, but even more so when you can't communicate with your classmates. Readers will love the kind, caring, and supportive teachers who believe in Lina, make her feel welcome, and want her to succeed. As Finally Seen progresses and Lina's love for reading and graphic novels grows, kids will understand how books help develop empathy and see the importance of speaking up for yourself.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how Finally Seen deals with immigration, racism, and bullying. How do these issues affect the characters?
Talk about the various kinds of diversity in the novel. Why are diverse representations important in children's and young adult literature?
How do the characters demonstrate kindness, perseverance, empathy, communication, and courage? Why are these important character strengths?
- Author: Kelly Yang
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, Middle School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: February 28, 2023
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 304
- Available on: Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: March 2, 2023
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