The Great Wall of Lucy Wu, by Wendy Wan-Long Shang

greatwallReview by Fan Zheng

Should we build a wall between ourselves and the people we do not like? This question drives the protagonist Lucy Wu in Wendy Wan-Long Shang’s middle-grade novel. An American-born Chinese girl, Lucy Wu trusts her sixth grade will be perfect. Because her sister is going to a college, she finally can have her own room. She also expects to become the captain of her basketball team. However, the arrival of Yi Po, her maternal aunt from China, means she will have to share her room again. She has to go to a Chinese school, and she loses the competition for the captain’s position to Sloan, a girl who wins by her bullying skills. Lucy Wu builds a wall to keep away from her aunt, Sloan and other people who make her uncomfortable.

The novel offers a window on the experiences of Chinese American children born to immigrant parents. Lucy doesn’t resist the Chinese element in her, but sometimes it can lead to trouble and a sense of being torn between two identities. It depicts the problem that every child of immigrants will face in their American life. On the one hand, the pressure to live according to the expectations of one’s ethnic culture; on the other, the demands of complying with the American culture, some of which are in conflict with one’s home norms. This book succeeds in giving hope to young readers that the two cultures are not incompatible. The challenge can be solved in creative ways and that is the lesson Lucy Wu discovers.

The Great Wall of Lucy Wu, by Wendy Wan-Long Shang. (2011). Scholastic, 312 pages.

I am an international graduate student from the program Learning Technology. What I usually do is about technology and education. However, culture is also the topic I am interested in.

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