MAIZY CHEN’S LAST CHANCE by Lisa Yee

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I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from the publisher in order to write this review.

Maizy has only met her grandparents once before, but now she’ll be living with them for an entire summer. With Opa sick, Mom has finally agreed to visit her hometown in Last Chance, Minnesota where Oma and Opa own a Chinese restaurant. The small town is nothing like Maizy’s home in LA where she had been hoping to spend her summer. Her family are the only Asians in the community, and it isn’t long before some mean girls start bullying her for being Chinese. Her mom is different, too. She’s quieter than normal and always arguing with Oma. Maizy is beginning to understand why they stayed away so long.

But as Maizy starts working at the restaurant and listening to Opa’s stories about her family history, she realizes there is more to the community and her family than you can see on the surface. Some of it is good, some not. When her family is the target of a hate crime, it will take all of Maizy’s courage and strength to stand up for her family and find the culprit.

In this powerful story, the wonderfully-inspiring Maizy gives up her dreams of a relaxing summer at home with her bff and throws herself into the community she has never visited and the family she has only just met. It is through learning her family’s history that Maizy is given the tools to help her family heal the rift that is stopping them from having a future together–and this broader perspective enables her to see the hidden side of the members of her community as well. Community–as well as Maizy’s own courage and hope–will prove the key to overcoming the bigotry that Maizy’s family has faced since they first arrived in America. I highly recommend this middle grade novel to any upper elementary and middle school fans of contemporary fiction, as well as book clubs and classrooms for that age group!

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