BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

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

Great Wall of Lucy WuTalk about timing … as soon as I finished Lisa Yee’s Warp Speed, I arbitrarily began Wendy Wan-Long Shang‘s Great Wall. The two titles together could be companion texts for sure: both highlight the prevalence of bullying in middle school. Warp Speed‘s Marley Sandelski prevails over his physical attackers; Great Wall‘s Lucy combats emotional treachery.

At 11-almost-12, Lucy Wu is the youngest in her family of three kids. Her annoyingly perfect older sister, with whom she has always shared a room, is off to college, which means Lucy (finally!) gets a room of her own. She’s about to begin her last year of elementary school – and 6th graders rule! She and her best friend Madison already have their bright futures meticulously planned, including matching star basketball careers and their soon-to-be-renowned fame as interior designers.

Except no one told Lucy about Yi Po, the mysterious great-aunt who’s coming for an extended visit and staying in Lucy’s newly vacated room. Just before Lucy’s beloved grandmother died three years ago, she revealed to Lucy’s mother that she had a long-lost sister she hadn’t seen in decades. Her grandmother is gone, but Yi Po is definitely here …

At school, Lucy’s got another unwanted challenge to deal with … queen-bee Sloane decides she should be the 6th grade basketball team captain. Unlike Sloane, Lucy can really play … and play well, even if she’s stuck going to Chinese school on Saturdays when she would much rather be practicing with the team. Sloane decides that being short and Chinese means Lucy is not leader material, and she and her posse will do almost anything to bully Lucy into submission. But buoyed by support from old friends and a few surprisingly new, Lucy figures out how to stay in the game.

Shang’s debut novel is a well-blended cornucopia of the multicultural tween’s challenges. From cultural differences to a multi-generational divide to the complicated social order of today’s middle schoolers, Shang weaves serious issues and concerns into an easy-breezy style that invites young readers to laugh, cringe, worry, cheer, and overcome together.

Readers: Middle Grade

Published: 2011


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