JUST LOVED READING:
Lin, Grace. Dumpling Days. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2012.
Pacy and her two sisters are headed to Taiwan to spend their summer vacation. They are not looking forward to spending a month in a country they’ve never visited before, don’t speak the language and don’t know the relatives they are going to live with.
And even though their mother has signed them up for art classes to encourage them to learn about their heritage, the visit doesn’t necessarily start off smoothly. Pacy is artistic but painting bamboo for a week isn’t what she expected from a painting class. Plus, the girl sitting next to her in class isn’t nice to her at all.
Many Taiwanese don’t understand why Pacy doesn’t speak Chinese and show their displeasure. Pacy defends herself at least in her own mind. She’s an American and her parents never made her learn Chinese. Pacy’s loving relatives introduce her and her sisters to the temples and neighborhoods of Taiwan, strange foods like chicken feet and quail eggs and the customs of Ghost month which go on during their month-long visit. At least, Pacy can eat her favorite dumplings every day.
By the time the month is up, though, Pacy realizes what her identity is: she is a Taiwanese-American even if she can’t speak Chinese and that her family loves her despite of that fact.
WHY I LOVED READING THIS BOOK:
As a Greek-American, I easily understood Pacy’s struggle to identify as a dual American although I speak, read and write Greek. Having visited the countries of my ancestry, I also understood the clash of cultures that she experienced. I lived in my father’s village in Cyprus for seven months. There was no running water or modern plumbing of any kind, no electricity and little in the way modern transportation. There was a bus that went through the village in the morning and returned at night and one or two privately owned cars. There were plenty of donkeys, though!
No one signed me up for painting classes but I did learn to pick fruit and olives during the harvest, make a fire and skin and gut freshly killed birds! (My aunt showed me how!)
So I empathized with the struggle to learn to even like the country of your heritage let alone identity with that heritage. There’s a lot of freedom that comes from eventually realizing and accepting what you are.
Pacy and her sisters’ ancestors are from Taiwan. To learn more about Taiwan and its culture check out the following links: