Lucy and Linh

by Alice Pung

Published by U.S. edition: Knopf, 2016

Lucy and Linh
Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung

340 pages
ISBN: 978-0-399-55048-5

Age 13 and older

Fifteen-year-old Lucy, whose immigrant Chinese family lives in a poor neighborhood of Melbourne, is recipient of the first Equal Access scholarship offered by Laurinda, an upscale, private girls school. The economic and racial disparity between Lucy and her Laurinda classmates, most of who are white and wealthy, is glaring. For them, Lucy realizes, “money is just numerical and not frustratingly finite and concrete,” while the ways her race and culture are exoticized (e.g., a parent compliments Lucy’s “nimble” Asian fingers) or demeaned are countless. She resents it but also can’t help judging her own family and community harshly by comparison. When Lucy is invited into the circle surrounding “The Cabinet,” the ruling trio of girls at the school whose cruelty is sometimes astonishing, she knows there must be a reason. She discovers it’s to make sure she upholds the exact image of the Equal Access scholarship the school has in mind. Her anger at the revelation helps her heal the split she felt moving between two worlds: She’ll accept what Laurinda has to offer, but on her own terms. There’s a surprise reveal near this novel’s end but it doesn’t overpower the beautiful, sharp, perceptive writing throughout a novel full of observations that are sometimes funny, always scathing. Finely developed characters, including Lucy’s parents, two individuals with different natures but the same work ethnic and love for their family, and relationships, and burgeoning new and genuine friendships are another part of what makes this a satisfying work. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center