A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong is an honest portrayal of a Chinese-American teen boy questioning his roots. Although Vee lies several times to his parents, he feels guilt over his misdeeds. Vee has a cynical, judgmental point of view but also a good sense of humor, and he tries very hard to overcome his shortcomings. Like many teen boys, he thinks about sex quite a bit, and at one point describes himself masturbating; at another he engages in petting with a girl at a party. There's some teen drinking, strong language ("Ass," "s--t," "f--k"), name-calling ("lesbos," "racist prick") and racial slurs ("Nuprin," "Twinkie"). When Vee finds out a popular girl at school has sought refuge at their history teacher's house, he wonders if the teacher has behaved inappropriately with her but ultimately decides it was innocent.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
High school sophomore Vee wants to know more about his half-Chinese, half-Texan family roots, but neither of his parents are forthcoming on the subject in THE COUNTERFEIT FAMILY TREE OF VEE CRAWFORD-WONG. When he's assigned to write a family history in school, he decides to make one up, as the title suggests. This starts him on a downward spiral that will seem tame to many, but Vee is filled with angst as one lie follows another in his attempts to find out more about his family, get together with the popular senior girl he has a crush on, find out the truth about his history teacher's relationship with that girl, and maintain his friendship with Madison, the Chinese-American girl who is as smart as Vee thinks he should be. When he finally tells the biggest lie of all, he's taken on a journey that may finally allow him to discover who he is -- and may force him to tell the truth.
Is it any good?
The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong accurately captures the angst, anger, and confusion of adolescence, and Vee has an authentic voice that many teens will relate to. However, his constant complaining about his lack of knowledge of his multicultural family background starts to sound whiny and overly tortured, especially through the first half of the book, when not a lot happens. His criticisms of his fellow students and teachers also begins to grate, even though he cushions many of his negative observations in self-deprecating humor. Once Vee decides to take action to solve his problems, the pace picks up and the resolution is ultimately satisfying.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about multicultural teen literature. Have you noticed the lack of it in comparison to books about white kids? Does this seem like a problem? Who should solve it?
Although you can find books about multiethnic teens, there aren't many movies about them. Why do you think this is?
Take a shot at creating your own family tree. Ask parents, grandparents aunts and uncles to help fill in the blanks and you may hear stories you've never heard before.
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
For kids who love coming-of-age and multicultural stories
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.