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Review

08

Oct
2015

In Review

By Elizabeth Wroten

Chapter Book Review: The Star Fisher by Laurence Yep

On 08, Oct 2015 | In Review | By Elizabeth Wroten

Star FisherThe Star Fisher by Laurence Yep

Lexile: 850L

Description: Joan Lee and her family have just moved to a small West Virginia town to open a laundry. At first they are met with prejudice and suspicion, but through the efforts of their friendly landlady they are accepted by the town. 

This one was a DNF for me. I had a really hard time getting into the story so I gave up.

From my perspective there were two things going on that made me put the book down after about 50 pages. The first was it felt really predictable. Foreign family moves to small, racist town. After struggling with a few town bullies they find some allies and the town grows in acceptance. Bullies are put in their place and their power is taken from them. This is silly, because the story is actually based on Yep’s mother’s experience growing up. And if that’s true, that makes it original and authentic. Still, it was hard as an adult reader to get past that predictability.

Second, the book read like something you would be required to read in an English class. Probably a middle school English class. The incidents and the story arc all lend themselves perfectly to discussions about history, racism, theme, overshadowing, etc. etc. I couldn’t tell if this was just Yep’s style of writing or if the book was dated, as if there was a period in the 90s when books felt stripped down and a bit didactic. Because of the origins of the story and the calibre of the author I would say this would be a great book for poring over in English class.

I don’t think I’ll keep it in our chapter book section. Largely because I don’t think it’s the kind of book a kid is going to pick up and it would take just the right reader to keep reading it if they did. We just don’t have the space to hang on to books like that. I’m rather disappointed because Joan and her siblings are American born, but get that question “Where are you from?”. This is such a timely issue right now as is racism and race.

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