Parachutes

Book review by
Amanda Nojadera, Common Sense Media
Parachutes Book Poster Image
Powerful tale of immigration, privilege, and rape culture.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers will learn about racism, the immigrant experience, and "parachutes," which are teens from wealthy Chinese families who move alone to the United States, while their parents stay in China. They'll also learn about rape culture and the importance of consent.

Positive Messages

Friendship, communication, compassion, courage, and empathy are important themes. Be proud of where you come from and take charge of your own life. Believe victims instead of blaming them. Talk to someone you trust and remember you are not alone. Open, honest communication is essential to healthy relationships.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Many strong, diverse characters in terms of race and sexual orientation. Claire is Chinese and Dani is Filipino American. Although they have their flaws, Claire and Dani are strong, smart, ambitious, and courageous girls who fight for justice and against discrimination. Ms. Jones is a kind and supportive teacher who fights for her students and challenges them to be better.

Violence

The author includes a content warning at the beginning of the book that notes that there are scenes depicting sexual harassment and rape. A high school teacher sexually harasses his student by putting his hand on her leg and telling her he'd date her if he was a teen. A girl is raped by her boyfriend. While he has her pinned to the beg, she screams and begs for him to stop, but he doesn't stop. Bullying is also a major part of the story. Lockers are vandalized and characters are called things like "ungrateful piece of American trash," "piece of white trash," "cock tease," and more.

Sex

Many characters kiss, make out, lose their virginity, and engage in sexting. One character finds a couple in bed and is asked if she wants to join. There are mentions of condoms, birth control, and the morning after pill.

Language

Characters use variations of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "ass," "whore," "bastard," "hoes," "dick," "dammit," "cock tease," and more.

Consumerism

Brands and pop culture mentions include Instagram, WeChat, WhatsApp, Apple, plus many high-end designer brands. Characters from wealthy families buy their way into prestigious schools and use their money to make sexual harassment and assault allegations go away.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Underage drinking and mentions of rose, champagne, beer, Grey Goose, and more.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Kelly Yang's Parachutes -- the term for wealthy Chinese teens who move alone to the United States while their parents stay in Asia -- is a powerful tale about immigration, privilege, rape culture, and the importance of consent, and is based on her own experience with sexual assault. The author includes a content warning at the beginning of the book that notes that there are scenes depicting sexual harassment and rape. A high school teacher sexually harasses his student by putting his hand on her leg and telling her he'd date her if he was a teen. A girl is raped by her boyfriend. While he has her pinned to the bed, she screams and begs for him to stop, but he doesn't. Bullying is also a significant part of the story. Lockers are vandalized, and characters are called things like "ungrateful piece of American trash," "piece of white trash," and "cock tease." Characters use variations of "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," "ass," "whore," "bastard," "hoes," "dick," "dammit," "cock tease," and more. Many characters kiss, make out, lose their virginity, and engage in sexting. One character finds a couple in bed and is asked if she wants to join. There are mentions of condoms, birth control, and the morning after pill, plus scenes of underage drinking and mentions of rose, champagne, beer, Grey Goose, and more.

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What's the story?

PARACHUTES are teens from wealthy Chinese families who move alone to the United States while their parents stay in China. Claire Wang didn't think she'd become a parachute, but her parents forced her to enroll at California high school after failing a test. As Claire adjusts to life in the United States without her parents, she'll have to figure out how to balance her freedom with her parents' expectations. What happens when the hottest parachute at school, Jay, asks her out? At the same time, Dani De La Cruz, an all-star debater, is determined to earn a scholarship to Yale, unlike her teammates who are buying their speeches. But Dani's future is jeopardized when her coach takes a special interest in her and offers to coach her privately. Claire and Dani might think they have nothing in common, but they'll need each other's help to overcome and heal from similar traumatic experiences.

Is it any good?

Kelly Yang's powerful tale about immigration, privilege, and rape culture is a must-read for teens. Yang draws on her own experience with sexual assault, and her timely story emphasizes how essential it is to believe victims instead of blaming them. Yang seamlessly alternates between Claire's and Dani's perspectives, and although they come from different backgrounds, wealth and power play similar roles in their traumatic experiences. Readers will be frustrated by the apathy of many of the adults in Parachutes, but they'll root for Claire and Dani as they take charge of their lives and fight for justice and against discrimination.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the heavy theme of Parachutes. Is it important for teens to read Claire and Dani's story? Why or why not? How does the book deal with sex, bullying, and violence? How do these issues affect the characters?

  • How do you cope with issues? Who can you turn to? What help is out there?

  • Can you think of any other books that deal with sexual abuse? How might a novel like this be helpful? Check out our list of Books to Help Teens Understand the Importance of Consent.

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love Asian stories and stories about needing consent

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