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Child of the Owl: 07/16/08

Laurence Yep has been a favorite author of mine since my teens. I have been reading his books when I've had the opportunity. My local library has a huge collection of his novels and I've decided to work my way through them as time permits. Child of the Owl (1977) is my first revisiting of Yep in about a decade and I'm currently reading Sea Glass (1979).

Child of the Owl is told in the first person perspective of a 12 year old girl named Casey. She's a native born Chinese American but doesn't even think of herself in terms of her Chinese heritage. Like many first generation native born Americans, she only speaks English. Just as Yep describes in his autobiography The Lost Garden (1996), Casey is "too American to fit into Chinatown, and too Chinese to fit in anywhere else." In fact, that turmoil of balancing cultures is a recurrent theme in Yep's books.

The book, though written in the 1970s, takes place in 1965. When Casey is forced to move in with her Grandmother, Paw-Paw, in Chinatown (San Francisco) we get to learn about Chinese culture as Casey does. All of Yep's descriptions of San Francisco have a delicate balance of Western and Chinese details. The Beatles, old time radio shows, and hamburgers coincide with Chinese opera, Kung fu movies and dim sum.

Comments (4)

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Comment #1: Thursday, July, 17, 2008 at 10:56:56

Natasha @ Maw Books

I love anything to do with Chinese literature. Thanks for the heads up on this one. I'll be looking for it."

Comment #2: Thursday, July, 17, 2008 at 11:00:25


All of Laurence Yep's books that I've read have been wonderful."

Comment #3: Thursday, July, 17, 2008 at 11:51:32


I've always liked her books about the dragon and the lost sea, but never read these ones. Think I need to give them a try."

Comment #4: Thursday, July, 17, 2008 at 11:07:10


I've read some of his Dragon books and I'd like to reread them."

Comment #5: Sunday, August, 17, 2008 at 03:44:34

Rebekah Crain

I'm not sure I've read this author before. Going to have to look in to it. "

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