Maggie Chen's journalist father has fired her imagination with the thrill of the newsroom, and when her father is killed, she is determined to keep his dreams alive by interning at the newspaper.
While assisting on her first story, Maggie learns that her father is suspected of illegal activity, and knows she must clear his name. Drawn to Seattle’s Chinatown, she discovers things that are far from what she expected: secrets, lies, and a connection to the Chinese Exclusion Era. Using all of her newspaper instincts and resources, Maggie is forced to confront her ethnicity—and a family she never knew.
Ingold (Hitch) weaves together two intersecting stories in this novel about identity and family. Most of the chapters are about likable 16-year-old Maggie Chen, who discovers that her recently deceased reporter father lied about his past; these are interspersed with the memories of Fai-yi Li, who immigrated to Seattle from China in 1932 at age 15 with his twin sister using falsified documents. As Maggie begins an internship at a newspaper, she uncovers a corruption story that may involve her father. "Why would my father, who'd always said a person was only as good as his or her word, have lied about his parents and about how he'd been brought up?" she wonders. Though the historical chapters start slower, as Fai-yi's story builds, so does the tension and drama, especially his emotionally fraught relationship with his sister and star-crossed love. The conclusion feels a bit anticlimactic, and in some cases the dialogue hits themes of identity rather hard. Still, Ingold offers insight into the sacrifices and secrets involved in emigration from China during this period and their ripple effects. Ages 12 up.