A friend recommended Dragon’s Gate by Laurence Yep after reading it with her high schooler. I was about to hunt it down at the library when I discovered it on my own bookshelf.
Apparently, Dragon’s Gate had been a part of our homeschool curriculum as an independent reader, so I had never read it. I immediately sat down and became absorbed in the story of Otter.
Much of the beginning of the book follows Otter’s life in Three Willows Village in China. He lives in awe of his mother, a formidable woman, who is from a different lineage than his father. Much of this section includes regional politics I couldn’t quite follow – I wish my version had a map so I could visualize the different places mentioned.
Otter gets in big trouble, and has to leave his village to join his father and uncle in the Land of the Golden Mountain – California, USA.
After an arduous journey, Otter is confronted by the very different life his father and uncle live in the US. Here they are mis-treated and disrespected. As Otter learns to work hard in mountains, and makes unexpected friends. He also learns another level of respect for the leaders of his family.
Note for parents: Otter witnesses some terrible events, involving much death and destruction. He also sees how a group of misfits can create a productive and close-knit team.
Highly recommended for ages 12 and up.
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