This “first-rate,” hysterically funny debut novel “that belongs on every multicultural reading list” (Kirkus Reviews) is one of Kirkus’s Best Books of 2013.
When Vee Crawford-Wong’s history teacher assigns an essay on his family history, Vee knows he’s in trouble. His parents—Chinese-born dad and Texas-bred Mom—are mysteriously and stubbornly close-lipped about his heritage. So, Vee makes up an essay about the grandfather he never knew.
The deception begins to spiral out of control when Vee and his best friend, Madison, forge a letter from his relatives in China, asking his father to bring Vee for a visit. Astonishingly, Vee’s father agrees. But halfway around the world is a long way to go to find what Vee has been searching for the whole time—who he really is.
An assignment to write an essay on family history kickstarts a high school sophomore's mission to understand his hyphenated identity in this funny and profane first novel. All Vee knows about his Texas grandparents is that their annual Christmas card always makes his mother cry; his father, meanwhile, left China for college and never looked back. Already in trouble for lackluster academics, Vee can't get his parents to talk about their pasts, so he completes the essay by inventing a backstory for his father's family in a fishing village along the Yangtze. After he gets away with that, he's on a roll. The question of when Vee's lies and machinations will catch up with him gives the second half of this novel some much-needed tension. Vee is intelligent and self-effacing, and he's also the yin to Sherman Alexie's yang. Whereas Junior in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was determined to better himself despite poverty and a dysfunctional family, Vee is a privileged kid with wonderful parents who travels a long, tortured path to find there's no place like home. Ages 14 up.