My Teenager’s Perspective: The Journal of Wong Ming-Chung: A Chinese Miner, California, 1852

My daughter asked me to help her with an English assignment this past Wednesday. She wanted me to check for grammatical errors and typos. She accepted some of my suggestions, ignored others. This is as it should be.

Thursday, she surprised me. “You should put this on your blog.”

I had actually been planning to ask her if she would collaborate on a post on some YA fiction over the summer. I thought we could both read the same book and give kind of a father/daughter take. If she was interested. Well, without my saying anything, she beat me to the ask. I was pleased.

Her Wednesday assignment was to write a response to a book of fiction. You may notice in reading her “Response” that the students were required to use certain terms (e.g. exposition, protagonist, etc.) in separate paragraphs. The book she chose was The Journal of Wong Ming-Chung: A Chinese Miner, California, 1852 (My Name is America Series) by Laurence Yep.

At her request, this is my daughter’s response:

The exposition of this story begins with Tiger Rock, in Southern China on October 1, 1851. The first year of the leader’s era is ending. It is autumn in China and winter is approaching. The rice fields are not doing well. Of the many lives in this rural area, a certain boy’s family is trying to survive.

The protagonist in this book is Wong Ming-Chung also known as “Runt” for his miniature size. Runt is a round character, experiencing different emotions throughout the journey. Being ten years old and being the youngest of the family, Runt always thinks and tries to help his family. He is also at times curious, eager to learn and bound to be reading a book. However, being dark-skinned, he does not have the same rights and opportunities of those of lighter skin.

The conflict includes both some internal and external. The main conflict in the story is the individual versus society. Other conflicts in the story include individual vs. nature, individual vs. individual(s), and individual vs. self. With Runt’s family struggling, Uncle sets out to America to get money for the clan. Sometime after, Uncle needs assistance finding gold and requests Runt’s older brother, Blessing come. Runt’s parents decide to send Runt instead. Thus begins his grueling, dangerous, and yet exciting journey to the New World.

The resolution to this exciting story is when Uncle and Runt find enough gold to send to their clan back in China, and start living fancy. Later on, Runt’s family wants him to return home to China. Making his choice, Runt decides to visit them, then to return back to America to help Uncle.

The themes of this journey are to work hard, do your best, and to do what is right. Do these things, then you will most likely experience great rewards knowing that they have been earned.

I felt multiple emotions throughout the book. I could picture and feel how Runt felt on his amazing journey. It was as if I was actually there. I could feel the nausea when Runt and his family had to eat weed soup for days, the thousands of people when Runt was in San Francisco, and the worry for his family. For me, it is rare to find a book that makes me feel such emotions. This means one thing, this book was a great one. I hope to read more books like this wonderful, historical novel.

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3 Responses to My Teenager’s Perspective: The Journal of Wong Ming-Chung: A Chinese Miner, California, 1852

  1. Lisa Hill says:

    I’d like to congratulate your ‘guest blogger’ on her contribution to your blog, Kerry!
    Here in Australia we have a series of historical novels for young people too. The series is called ‘My Diary’ and each one is the fictional personal story of a 10-14 year old who lived through significant historical events here, such as the Gold Rush, the Depression, early days of settlement etc. Young people here really like them too and I think that’s because the history of your own ‘place’ is fascinating – if it’s written in an interesting way.
    Lisa

  2. Kerry says:

    Thank you, Lisa. My daughter was very appreciative of your congratulations and very impressed that it came all the way from Australia. She has a fascination with the country AND continent Australia.

    I think your analysis of the appeal of the series is spot on. I have not read any of them, but obviously this one was quite intriguing to her.

    Thanks again!

  3. Star says:

    I wanted to say that this was most helpful on understanding the book better.

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