Twelve-year-old Lee’s parents died a horrible death at the hands of bandits. He lives with his grandparents in a small town in China. His grandparents love him very much through such a difficult time. Before his parent’s deaths they purchased a “paper son slot” for Lee to go to America. They spent all of their money and borrowed some for this purchase. Lee’s grandparents paid off the debt so Lee could make his way to America. Although he did not want to go his grandparents knew it would be a better life for him. A “paper son” is one who pretends to be the son of a family already in America. He will first arrive in San Francisco at Angel Island Immigration Station where he must pass the test. He must pass the test for the better life his grandparents wish for him.
This is a beautifully illustrated text that follows Lee’s journey. The text matches the great illustrations of the transition from China to America Lee experiences. The reader is there with Lee. They feel his heartache. This is a terrific story to help students connect with their coming to America story.
At the back of the book the reader will find additional facts about Angel Island: America’s west Ellis Island. This extra information helps the reader understand and connect to the story.