Thursday, 30 January 2014

Learning to Fly by Paul Yee

 I've just finished my third Orca novel-Learning to Fly- Overall, I thought this story was fairly good. At the beginning we meet a Chinese immigrant by the name of  Jie-xin, Canadian name, Jason. He has recently moved to the town of Milson with his mother and his younger brother Josh. Jason's mom runs a deli in the mall, and Jason works there for free as the family doesn't have much money. Despite what his mom promised him, there are no other Chinese people in Milson, and Jason faces racism and loneliness on a daily basis. How does he decide to cope with all these issues? He smokes pot, which he purchases from "The Man", and he doesn't smoke alone. He has a few pothead friends that smoke with him- Chief (named because of his First Nations background), Pinhead, Danny, and Danny's girlfriend Shawna.
With everything going on, Jason is desperate to move back to China, but his mother wants them to make a life in Milson. One day, Chief asks Jason to pick up some "stuff" for the group, and things go from bad to worse.
I like how this book explores the immigrant experience, and how Jason and Chief connect over their shared isolation and experiences with racism. I think it's worth reading especially if you are a Chinese immigrant or of First Nations descent. My only criticism would be that I would have liked to learn a little more about the backgrounds of all the different characters.

Final Thoughts: I hope this book will make everyone take a moment and think about what you're doing to make our immigrant students feel welcome, and how much of an effort you make with students who may feel like they don't fit in. Please take the time to get to know these students! They're probably a lot more like you than you think, and kindness and compassion don't cost a thing!

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