Edited by Ellen Oh
Twelve linked short stories center on East and Southeast Asian American children and teens stranded at a Chicago airport on a stormy, flight-delayed day. Eleven of the 12 are travelers; one finds himself at work with his mom when childcare arrangements fell through. Each story has a vivid sense of place and conveys particulars of both identity and circumstance, grounding readers in its protagonist’s thoughts and feelings about what brought them there, who they are (or aren’t) with, and where they are headed and why. Whether in the midst of a journey across the country or around the world, or making a forbidden, heroic foray from one terminal to another, these children and teens are already navigating the unexpected brought on by the flight delays when they each encounter one or more incidents of anti-Asian racism. Some of what they experience is overtly racist, but some is more subtle, and part of the power of this collection is in illuminating what too often goes unseen by non-Asians. But there is nothing didactic in these lively stories. The racism encountered by these diverse children and teens is achingly believable, often coming seemingly out of the blue and revealing beliefs and ideas that too often go unchallenged. At the same time, while an unsettling part of the landscape these children and teens must navigate, these moments punctuate but do not define their experiences. Each story turns as their protagonist finds insight, or resilience, or resolve, or unexpected, welcome solidarity.
©2023 Cooperative Children’s Book Center