Scroll through our Favorite 2019 YA Books list below:
A Closer Look at Butterfly Yellow
While sorting through 2019 YA books at the Reinberger, one book caught my eye: Butterfly Yellow by Thanhhà Lai. This book focuses on the relationship between a brother and sister who were separated during the Vietnam War. Hằng brought her baby brother, Linh, to the airport so they could flee from Vietnam to America for safety. But Linh was taken from her—and Hằng was left behind in Vietnam. After six years, Hằng begins her new life as a refugee in Texas. She reconnects with Linh, but realizes that he doesn’t remember her, or their homeland. However, Hằng still hopes to become closer to her brother despite this cultural gap.
I was drawn to this story because it contrasts the experiences of refugees or immigrants who left their country later in life with those who grew up in America. My grandfather moved to America from the Philippines when he was 25. He felt very connected to his Filipino culture and spoke Tagalog regularly to his friends and family. On the other hand, my grandmother was a second-generation Japanese immigrant who did not speak Japanese growing up. I think she felt less connected to her Japanese heritage since she was raised in America. Where we grow up influences how we view the world and the culture we keep in our hearts. I am interested in reading this book to see how Hằng attempts to deepen her bond with Linh even with the cultural distance between them.
—Julia Stone, Graduate Assistant
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