Chapter Books – Year of the Dog

At the start of the year, Pacy’s mom tells her that this is the year of the dog, a year that is good for friends, family, and finding herself. Pacy can’t wait to get started on all three fronts. She’s thrilled when another Chinese American girl moves to town. Now she has someone else to share the confusion of growing up with two cultures – and even two names, since her American friends call her Grace. And as for finding herself…Grace/Pacy has many talents.

This is a wonderful, realistic book. Author Grace Lin says in an afterword that when she was growing up she always missed seeing herself reflected in popular culture including books, and she was determined to create literature that featured girls just like her: Chinese-Americans that struggled with all of the normal everyday aspects of growing up, just like every other little girl, but with the compounded problems of being a part of two different cultures. She succeeds here admirably.

The book is cute without being twee, and the emotions of Pacy/Grace, her friends, and family all ring true. The relationships are very real, and Grace’s worries and triumphs are handled brilliantly. The book is also quite funny. It’s the favorite of several girls I know. There is a sequel, called Year of the Rat.

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