Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong, by L. Tam Holland (book review) – family secrets, lies & love?

book cover of Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong by L Tam Holland published by Simon SchusterHalf-Chinese, half-Texan,
Parents won’t discuss family,
Who is Vee? He’s not sure.

Yep, one of those “write about your family history” assignments which make adoptees, foster kids, and those with fractured families cringe, and Vee decides that writing fiction is better than flunking for writing nothing.

I traveled in China a few years ago, so I can mentally see and smell and hear the inauspicious family trip that Vee, his Texan mom, his Chinese dad, and his best friend-girl take to Dad’s hometown searching for Grandfather Wong.

Grab this basketball-loving, dysfunctional family times two, coming-of-age tale today at your favorite local library or independent bookstore.

When it comes to skeletons rattling the family tree, should you ignore, hide, or celebrate them?

Book info: The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong / L. Tam Holland. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013.  [author site]  [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Basketball, girls, and sad irony – life for Vee was okay. Inventing his family history for a school paper turns things upside down, and his Chinese dad and Texan mom may not see the humor in it, especially when they all go to China on a wild grandfather chase.

Yes, they gave him a name that couldn’t be mistaken for Chinese. No, Dad and Mom will never talk about their parents, ever. Yes, Vee loves basketball more than anything, but passion doesn’t equal talent. No, he is not going to fail honors history merely because he has no known family history to write about!

Getting cut from JV team is awful, but being named manager of the girls’ varsity team could be alright. It’s odd being around Adele outside history class where she hangs out (Mr. Riley helped her out of a tough spot once, she says) – maybe Vee is misreading the extra attention she pays him, or maybe not.

Vee’s best friend Madison’s Chinese is much better than his, so she helps him “reinvent” family information for the history paper and writes a letter to his dad as if from his long-estranged grandfather in China. This extra-credit detail sends the Crawford-Wongs (plus Madison) to Dad’s home village in search of family healing, and what a strange trip their journey becomes!

What if they really find Grandfather? What if they don’t?
What caused Mom’s parents to cut off communication?
What does senior Adele see in Vee (or is he imagining things)?

Complicated family history plus misunderstandings at school (on and off the court) might make Vee wish he’d never written that paper or might let him finally discover who he is, at last.  (One of 6,000 books recommended on

One thought on “Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong, by L. Tam Holland (book review) – family secrets, lies & love?

  1. This sounds right up my alley! I am half Japanese and half Chinese. The Chinese family history is always a bit murky in my family too! Thanks for linking up to The Multicultural Children’s Book Day! I hope you will join us on Jan 27th!

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