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2022 - Shortlisted
Brilliantly upending stereotypes, Rebecca Lim’s beautiful novel tells the story of Wen Zhou and her friend Henry Xiao, two children of Chinese immigrants whose families are struggling to adapt to their new lives. Wen is having difficulty with maths, while Henry needs help with his English — without each other, both would fail within the system. Their friendship is put to the test when tragedy strikes, and Henry stops going to school.
Wen is the driving force of this novel, a fierce protagonist who refuses to leave her friend behind or give in to her controlling father’s demands. It’s through her actions, her kindness and generosity, that a community is knit together. Lim puts an exacting light on the damage that gendered cultural expectations can wreak, without losing sight of the agency of each individual. Heartfelt and moving, insightful and unforgettable, this is a story every Australian could learn from.