Book: Dragonfly Dreams by Jennifer J. Chow
Publication date: November 24, 2015 (Happy Book Birthday!)
Source: pdf from the author
Summary: In 1880s Fresno, a young mother dies while giving birth to her daughter. The afterlife presents her with an opportunity to watch her daughter grow and, even, to have some influence on her life. Topaz eagerly accepts only to discover that parenting has challenges, even from beyond the grave. The story unfolds during a time of change in the Asian community of California, complete with intergenerational conflicts and transitions from manual labor to entrepreneurship, at least for some.
Thoughts: I started reading Dragonfly Dreams on Halloween, which is appropriate since it turned out to be a ghost story. Dragonfly Dreams, though, is an East meets West ghost story. The Western spookiness is less evident than Eastern folklore about receiving aid from ancestors. In this story, that aid from the dead is touched with all the love and all the foibles we humans experience in life.
I didn’t realize until I read the summary on Goodreads while I was grabbing the cover that Dragonfly Dreams is intended for Young Adults. It works great for adults as a crossover! I like it as YA, now that I think of it, too. Topaz, the mother, and Jas, the daughter, are great characters that young people will relate to. Death and the perils of parenting are pretty mature concepts, but ones that teens think about — it’s great to have a book that addresses them in an engaging way.
Appeal: YA, paranormal, historical fiction, multi-cultural fiction — there are a lot of touchstones, here, and every one of those readers will be happy with this story, whether they normally cross-over to the other genres or not.
Challenges: This is my 8th book for Diversity on the Shelf 2015.
I loved reading a book about the Chinese and Japanese communities in 1880s California. Do you have more books to recommend in a similar setting?