Oct 23 2005

China Boy

Published by at 3:05 pm under Books

By Gus Lee; Selected for San Francisco’s One City, One Book campaign.

A fictionalized autobiography of a Chinese immigrant kid growing up in a black area of San Francisco at about the time of the Korean War (A trick historical reference for those under 50). It is a brutal coming of age story for a little scrawny boy who starts live in a classically oriented family headed by an ex Chinese Nationalist officer and a formerly rich and scholarly father. They avoid living in Chinatown and instead live in the ‘panhandle” a lower class ghetto. His mother dies when he is five and he is suddenly thrown out on the streets by an ogre; his American stepmother – truly evil in this story. He becomes a punching bag for the local kids and the story concerns how he eventually succeeds in growing up and starts to “get out”. However, the story ends when he is still only about seven.
This one was good. The story sucked me in and I wanted to see how it developed and ultimately ended. I read it rather quickly, but could put it down. My only complaint is that it is told through the eyes of a five to seven year old but obviously written by an adult. So the viewpoint of the child/adult narrator was a little fuzzy. Mostly expressed a little kid would, but mixed with observations and opinions that had to be those of a a grown person looking back on a childhood. Just a small blemish.

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