Fire Horse Girl, by Kay Honeyman (book review) – from China to America, from despised daughter to freedom?

publisher siteNot really believing in curses,
Curious as a good daughter never would be,
Escape to Gold Mountain would be paradise!

Jade Moon knows that her inauspicious birth sign won’t matter when she gets to America, right? But the tongs‘ control of San Francisco’s Chinatown could make it impossible for her to escape their evil clutches.

Look for this spring 2013 release at your local library  or independent bookstore to discover whether Jade Moon can truly find happiness in a new land.

What other immigrant stories would you suggest for young adults on BooksYALove World Wednesday?
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Book info:  The Fire Horse Girl / Kay Honeyman. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2013; Scholastic, paperback. [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My recommendation: Small village, small minds, convinced that Jade Moon’s Fire Horse birth sign will curse anyone foolish enough to marry her. She will have to travel far from this small Chinese village to escape this bad luck, perhaps all the way to America, like her uncle.

But Uncle died coming back from the “Gold Mountain” says Sterling Promise, his adoptive son, Now Jade Moon’s father must pretend to be his brother, using Uncle’s identity papers so they can both enter the USA to pursue the family’s business interests, and they decide to take Jade Moon along to remove her curse from the family lands.

Up the river to the noisy bustle of Hong Kong, across the wide ocean by crowded steamship, Jade Moon and Father are coached by Sterling Promise in their ‘improved’ family history so that their answers will match when interrogated by the immigration officials. Only relatives with real business are allowed into the USA from China, though many others try to enter.

The shores of America look beautiful, but the Angel Island center is ugly. After weeks of waiting, Father fails the questioning intentionally, so Jade Moon is sure they all will be returned to China. However, clever Sterling Promise has bribed someone and will leave Angel Island on the next boat. Jade Moon’s desperation to escape the weight of village condemnation outweighs her fears as she cuts off her hair, locates Sterling Promise’s identity papers, dons his American suit and boards the boat to San Francisco.

Lost in the city, she’s almost caught up in a street fight, but is rescued by Harry Hon, whose father controls one of Chinatown’s ‘protection associations’ and is recruiting muscle and fists for the tong. She winds up staying at Mr. Hon’s home, being called Fire Horse, learning how to fight, helping Harry as numbers runner. Trying to ignore the dark sides of the Hon business becomes impossible when she discovers that a friend from Angel Island will be sold into prostitution and finds a way to help her keep her out of their reach.

Will the tong uncover her involvement in the escape?
How can she keep her identity secret when Sterling Promise appears?
Can this Fire Horse overcome old beliefs to find freedom in a new land?

Set in the waning days of the tongs’ power in Chinatown, this story of Jade Moon’s quest for a new life follows the twists and turns caused by her outspoken comments and daring choices. (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

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