When the coronavirus hits Hong Kong, ten-year-old Knox Wei-Evanss mom makes the last-minute decision to move him and his siblings back to California, where they think they will be safe. Suddenly, Knox has two days to prepare for an international moveand for leaving his dad, who has to stay for work.
Knox struggles with being the new kid at his new school in California. His classmates think he must have brought over the virus because hes from Asia. At home, Mom just got fired and is panicking over the loss of health insurance, and Dad doesnt even know when hell see them again since the flights have been canceled. And everyone struggles with Knoxs blurting-things-out problem.
As racism skyrockets during COVID-19, Knox tries to stand up to hate while finding his place in his new country. Can you belong if youre feared; can you protect if youre new? And how do you keep a family together when youre oceans apart? Sometimes when the world is spinning out of control, the best way to get through it is to embrace our own lovable uniqueness.
The story starts during January 2020, back when everyone thought the virus outbreak would blow over in a month. Boy, were we wrong.
Like all of Kelly Yangs books, this one doesnt shy away from tough subjects, which makes it so real. These were real-life events that affected the whole world. Everyone struggled during the pandemic. Everyone was scared, and we were all trying to do our best in a tough situation.
One of those tough subjects featured was racism towards Asians. One scene that hit me the most was when some jerk yelled at Bowen to Go back to where you came from. I hate that so much! It is such a stupid statement. You cannot tell where someone is from based on how they look! You dont know their life! It would make more sense if they said, Go away. At least that way, they dont sound like the ignorant, insensitive twit that they are.
I still dont understand why some people were so resistant to wearing masks. I get that it was hard to breathe when it was hot out, but it wasnt that bad. Im still wearing mine when Im outside because it helps with my allergies.
This story also has an excellent portrayal of a young boy with ADHD. Poor Knox struggles with impulsiveness, and he always feels like hes either in trouble or about to be in trouble. This is why being diagnosed is so essential. Without it, kids end up thinking that something is wrong with them.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes and passages from the story:
You wouldnt believe it yesterday the grocery store down the street ran out of toilet paper! No joke!
That would never happen in America. Even if we had the virus here, people would never panic to the point of stockpiling toilet paper . . . thats ridiculous.
(I literally laughed out loud when I read this)
I think its important to contain the virus and protect people, but I also think that we should not use this as an excuse to be hateful toward people just because of where they came from. In moments of human tragedy, we need to show compassion and kindness.
(To me, this speaks volumes)
I know I do things differently, but Im trying hard. I wish people could see me and love me for who I am. Knox
Im sure this will be one of many COVID-19 pandemic-based stories. I feel like 2020 pandemic stories will be the new WWII stories. By that, I mean there will be a lot of them told from many different points-of-views. And on that note, Kelly Yang had the brilliant idea to give kids the opportunity to write about their own unique pandemic story. Said stories can be read at Kellys Yangs website through the link below:
Check out the Authors Note to learn about the real-life events that inspired this story.
Last note, if you are wondering why Knox is wearing a dinosaur costume, youll have to read the book to find out.