New From Here by Kelly Yang


Our family was first introduced to author, Kelly Yang, when my daughter's class read Front Desk together. My daughter immediately fell in love with the book and sought out Yang's other books when visiting our local independent bookstore. We came home with New From Here, a story about a 10 year old named Knox who moves from Hong Kong to Caliifornia with his mom and two siblings when covid-19 was just beginning. Knox's parents had a home in Northern California, as they were both raised there, and they felt their family's best response to covid at that time was to move. Knox's father and beloved dog stay behind so his father can hold on to his job and continue to provide for the family during the difficult time. 

At first, Knox is happy to be at school in-person because online school back at home was challenging for him. He makes a best friend and loves his teacher. He soon finds that covid-19 has sparked discrimination against Asian people though, and over time, he discovers the importance in sticking up for himself, his family, and others. 

 His struggles don't stop there. He also has a hard time understanding why he and his older brother, Bowen are so different. Why does he always get into trouble and struggle to pull good grades while his high-achieving brother does the opposite? This leads Knox to learn about ADHD and how it can be seen as a weakness in some ways but a strength in others. 

New From Here highlights the challenges that many children have faced throughout the pandemic. It allows the reader to recall their own experience while building empathy for others who faced some similar and some different challenges at that time. It introduces middle-graders to important topics like racism, inclusion, kindness, and resilience. It tells the story of a family with relatable struggles who ultimately love each other through the hard times they face. 

I highly recommend this book for any middle-grader. I believe it can help them process the reality of the pandemic that many of them remember and open them up to understanding other perspectives, including perspectives from people who don't look or live like them and even from their own parents trying to hold it all together. Kelly Yang is a beautiful writer for young people, and this is incredibly apparent in New From Here.

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