Young Adult Biographies
Fritz, Jean: Homesick
Jean Fritz tells the delightful true story of her childhood in China until
1927, when she turned twelve and her family returned to Pennsylvania. During her
years in China she had always felt she was American and was homesick for
the country she'd not yet seen. History and Chinese culture come to life
as we see China through Jean's young eyes.
Ms. Fritz tells the makes the Yangtse River come alive with its coolies
hauling water, women washing clothes, swarming houseboats, and junks with eyes
painted on their prows. She lets us know how it felt to be a proud
American (though one born in China) in a British school, forced to sing
"God Save the King" every day. And she gives us her child's eye perspective
on the growing turmoil in China, especially in Hankow and Wuchang, as the
Chinese people became more and more suspicious of foreigners, and warlords,
Nationalists and Communists vied with each other for power. Being called
a "foreign devil" took some getting used to, and several times the family
had some very narrow escapes. Thoughout all her Chinese adventures, Jean
never forgot that she was an American, and she was very eager to return
to her native land. What she didn't expect was how difficult it would be to
fit into American culture when she got home to her grandparents' farm in
Pennsylvania. She was shocked when American children asked her what it
was like to eat a rat. And she took offense when her classmates referred
to the Chinese as "chinks."
I would highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to know more about
either Jean Fritz or China. Although it was intended for those 9-12, it
would make an excellent book to read to the entire family, for there is much
to discuss. Teachers will also find it a useful resource for unit studies on
China in the 1920's. This book is currently in print and published by
Penguin Putnam in both hardcover and trade paper.
Also available used from TomFolio.com.
Content provided by Barbara Radisavljevic,
Barb's People Builders.