Graphic Novel Review: Parachute Kids by Betty C. Tang
Posted on August 10, 2023 at 6:34 am by Gene Ambaum
Parachute Kids by Betty C. Tang. Scholastic Graphix, 2023. 9781338832693. 282pp. plus an author’s note at the end.
Parachute kids are “children from Asia who have been ‘dropped off’ with friends or relatives in foreign countries while their parents [stay] behind.” Tang’s parents sent her and her siblings to live in the US in 1979. This a fictionalized version of their experiences (and others in the same situation).
In 1981 Feng Li, her older brother and sister, and their parents visit the US for the first time. She’s super excited about visiting Disneyland and other tourist attractions, but then her parents break the news that the family is staying in the US to have better lives and opportunities. Their mom stays with them for a few months until she has to leave to renew her visa (which does not go smoothly or quickly), leaving the high school-age sister in charge. As they try to adapt and study, there are bullies, misunderstandings, and Feng Li is even shunned by the only other kid in her class who speaks Chinese. They’re also scammed, Feng Li’s brother falls in with a bad crowd (he’s dealing with his own issues), and there’s a particularly funny incident that involves shopping and cooking.
Ultimately this is an endearing story about siblings who eventually pull together to help each other as they try to live without their parents, but it takes a while (and a near tragedy) for them to figure that out. Like the best of the graphic novels Graphix publishes its well-structured narrative is brought to life by great art that makes the story easy to follow.