When the coronavirus hits Hong Kong, ten-year-old Knox Wei-Evans’s 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 move—and 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 he’s from Asia. At home, Mom just got fired and is panicking over the loss of health insurance, and Dad doesn’t even know when he’ll see them again since the flights have been canceled. And everyone struggles with Knox’s 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 you’re feared; can you protect if you’re new? And how do you keep a family together when you’re 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 Yang’s books, this one doesn’t 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 don’t know their life! It would make more sense if they said, “Go away.” At least that way, they don’t sound like the ignorant, insensitive twit that they are.
I still don’t 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 wasn’t that bad. I’m still wearing mine when I’m 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 he’s 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 wouldn’t 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 . . . that’s ridiculous.”
(I literally laughed out loud when I read this)
“I think it’s 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 I’m trying hard. I wish people could see me and love me for who I am.” – Knox
I’m 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 Kelly’s Yang’s website through the link below:
Check out the Author’s 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, you’ll have to read the book to find out.