New From Here -- A Look at Life During the Pandemic through the Eyes of an Asian-American Kid


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The last few years have been tough on everyone. We have had a worldwide pandemic, racial riots and demonstrations, life basically shutting down and restarting and so much more. It has been hard on adults and imagine how hard it has been on kids. Then imagine how hard it is for Asian American kids. Today I'm going to share a middle grades novel that delves into just that. An Asian American family returns from Hong Kong just as the virus is beginning to spread out of China. The father however stays in Hong Kong to keep his job. The kids have to pick up their life here at a house they only usually visit in the summer. Plus, deal with the fact that anyone who looks Chinese isn't always treated well. The book is New from Here by Kelly Yang. 

From the Publisher:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Front Desk comes a poignant middle grade novel about courage, hope, and resilience as an Asian American boy fights to keep his family together and stand up to racism during the initial outbreak of the coronavirus.

When the coronavirus hits Hong Kong, ten-year-old Knox Wei-Evans’s mom makes the last-minute decision to move him and his siblings back to California, where they think they will be safe. Suddenly, Knox has two days to prepare for an international move—and for leaving his dad, who has to stay for work.

At his new school in California, Knox struggles with being the new kid. His classmates think that because he’s from Asia, he must have brought over the virus. At home, Mom just got fired and is panicking over the loss of health insurance, and Dad doesn’t even know when he’ll see them again, since the flights have been cancelled. And everyone struggles with Knox’s blurting-things-out problem.

As racism skyrockets during COVID-19, Knox tries to stand up to hate, while finding his place in his new country. Can you belong if you’re feared; can you protect if you’re new? And how do you keep a family together when you’re oceans apart? Sometimes when the world is spinning out of control, the best way to get through it is to embrace our own lovable uniqueness.

From Me:

Now I will start by saying Hazel LOVED Front Desk by Kelly Yang as well as its sequel, so when I saw that this book was also by Kelly Yang I jumped at the opportunity. Based on the writing in this book I can see why Hazel loved the other books by her. The story is real. It is moving and funny and full of everyday life.

Knox and his siblings and mother come back to the United States. They are fleeing Hong Kong as Coronavirus gets closer and closer to them. This book brings back all the memories of my own experiences going through the start of the pandemic. It includes the empty store shelves and the shortage of masks, hand sanitizer and toilet paper. It also has the fear and the feeling of loss and confusion. We all went through these and it is the book. 

The other thing the book deals with is the prejudice towards Asian people. Knox has a white father and a Chinese mother. He has paler skin than his brother, so he passes as white often, but his brother and mother experience racism throughout the book. Knox befriends the Chinese American in his class and at recess all the white boys tag him and say he is it--they are playing Coronavirus Tag. Basically, he is always it. His mother shares how she fought prejudice when she lived in the United States as a child and especially in college. For the first time the kids are hearing some of the not so nice stories from America. 

The book is eye-opening and entertaining. Once I picked the book up, I read it quickly. Throughout the book there is an overall message about standing up for others and helping others. I love the messages about how to fight racism. Plus, the story shares the struggles of others throughout the story. There is the fear of the kids who need the free school lunch. There is the worry of losing a job. There is the fear of Knox's friend's family restaurant shutting down. Plus, there is missing the father as well as extended family. This book is full of so much and I know it will be a great read for everyone today as well as into the future when people are learning about the world we have been living in.