In the Wyoming territory in 1885, life is tough, especially for Michael Purdy. An outcast in the small town of Rock Springs, he's either bullied and bloodied, or ignored. Michael feels he might as well be a ghost in this rough coal-mining town.
But life is even harder for Joseph Young, a Chinese American boy and Michael's secret ally. Despised by the white miners, the Chinese work in dangerous conditions, struggling against poverty and racism. Still, Joseph yearns to be a "real American" -- a dream his father and the other Chinese laborers can't understand.
When the town's growing resentment toward the Chinese explodes, Michael and Joseph must test their unlikely friendship and trust each other with their lives.
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Laurence Yep is the acclaimed author of more than sixty books for young people and a winner of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. His illustrious list of novels includes the Newbery Honor Books Dragonwings and Dragon's Gate; The Earth Dragon Awakes: The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, a Texas Bluebonnet Award nominee; and The Dragon's Child: A Story of Angel Island, which he cowrote with his niece, Dr. Kathleen S. Yep, and was named a New York Public Library's "One Hundred Titles for Reading and Sharing" and a Bank Street College of Education Best Children's Book.
Mr. Yep grew up in San Francisco, where he was born. He attended Marquette University, graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and received his PhD from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He lives in Pacific Grove, California, with his wife, the writer Joanne Ryder.From School Library Journal:
Grade 6-9-This novel, based on a true event, tells the story of two young teens who live in Rock Springs, WY, in 1885 when animosity between American and Chinese miners reaches its peak. Born in the U.S. of Chinese parents, Joseph Young considers himself an American, but both communities see him as only Chinese. Michael Purdy is an "outsider" because of his illegitimate birth. The boys meet when Michael escapes hounding by bullies and hides in a cave outside of town where Joseph is fossil hunting. In chapters that alternate between the two well-developed characters, the book describes their growing friendship despite the escalating trouble between the Chinese and the "Westerners" who blame the newcomers for their economic hardships and march on Chinatown in a rampage. Though the narrative leading up to the massacre and its aftermath is perhaps a bit too long, Yep does a good job portraying the rampant prejudice, and he does not sugarcoat the horrifying violence, told from Michael's point of view. In stark contrast to the inhumanity he sees in the streets, his mother acts humanely in spite of her negative view of the Chinese. This series entry adds another chapter to the tale of the Young family, who came to America from Kwangtung, China, and sheds needed light on a shameful, but forgotten, event in American history.
Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA
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Book Description HarperCollins, 2004. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0060008318
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