The Traitor: Golden Mountain Chronicles: 1885

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9780060275228: The Traitor: Golden Mountain Chronicles: 1885

Life is very tough in the Wyoming Territory in 1885 -- and not just because of the brutal environment. Michael Purdy is an outcast in the small town of Rock Springs. At times bullied and bloodied and at other times ignored, Michael feels that he might as well be a ghost in this town of rough miners.

But life is even tougher for Joseph Young -- a Chinese American boy Michael's age. Despised by the American miners, the Chinese work for slave wages and in increasingly dangerous conditions. Born in America but never feeling he belongs, Joseph burns with the desire to be a "real American boy" -- a dream his father and the other Chinese laborers don't understand. To them, life in America is a constant struggle against poverty, deprivation, and hate. When the town's growing resentment toward the Chinese explodes in an event of horrifying cruelty, Michael and Joseph must trust each other with their lives.

Based on the actual events of one of the worst race riots in American history, The Traitor is a powerful, haunting, and ultimately hopeful story about a unique friendship strong enough to bring two worlds together.

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About the Author:

Laurence Yep grew up in San Francisco, where he was born. He attended Marquette University, was graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and received his Ph.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Mr. Yep now lives in Pacific Grove, California.

One of children's literature's most respected Asian American authors, Mr. Yep has written many novels, including Dragonwings, a Newbery Honor Book of 1976, and Dragon's Gate, a Newbery Honor Book of 1994. He is also the author of When the Circus Came to Town; The Imp That Ate My Homework, winner of the Georgia Children's Book Award; and The Magic Paintbrush.

The author of numerous other books for children and young adults, Mr. Yep has also taught creative writing and Asian American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley and Santa Barbara. In 1990 he received an NEA fellowship in fiction.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 6-9-This novel, based on a true event, tells the story of two young teens who live in Rock Springs, WY, in 1885 when animosity between American and Chinese miners reaches its peak. Born in the U.S. of Chinese parents, Joseph Young considers himself an American, but both communities see him as only Chinese. Michael Purdy is an "outsider" because of his illegitimate birth. The boys meet when Michael escapes hounding by bullies and hides in a cave outside of town where Joseph is fossil hunting. In chapters that alternate between the two well-developed characters, the book describes their growing friendship despite the escalating trouble between the Chinese and the "Westerners" who blame the newcomers for their economic hardships and march on Chinatown in a rampage. Though the narrative leading up to the massacre and its aftermath is perhaps a bit too long, Yep does a good job portraying the rampant prejudice, and he does not sugarcoat the horrifying violence, told from Michael's point of view. In stark contrast to the inhumanity he sees in the streets, his mother acts humanely in spite of her negative view of the Chinese. This series entry adds another chapter to the tale of the Young family, who came to America from Kwangtung, China, and sheds needed light on a shameful, but forgotten, event in American history.
Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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