by Linda Sue Park
If you like books that engages you in the diversity and struggles of other cultures, Prairie Lotus may interest you. He is currently a candidate for the Maine student Delivered Prices for 2021-2022 and considered by Kirkus Comments as the best college historical fiction of 2020.
Author, Linda Sue Park, is a multiple award-winning author, including the 2002 Newbery Medal for “A Single Shard.” Having parents who are both Chinese, many events in Prairie Lotus are written from the author’s own experiences with grief and discrimination. Hanna Edmunds, the main character, is also Asian American, having a Chinese-Korean mother and a European American father.
Prairie Lotus begins when Hanna was 5 years old in Los Angeles in the mid-1870s. She barely remembers the riots against the Chinese of some white citizens who disliked anyone who was not American of European descent. These riots left many Asian Americans dead. Around this time, Hanna’s mother developed lung disease while trying to help save an Asian American store from a neighbor that had been burnt down by part of the white population. Six years later, after many years of difficulty breathing, Hanna’s mother passed away.
Hanna, now 12, and her father prepare their wagon and travel for 3 years, their destination being La Forge in Dakota Territory. Mr. Edmunds and Hanna will open a dry goods store. Will they be treated differently in LaForge or will the cruel acts against them persist? Will she be allowed to go to school and get a diploma? Will she become a better seamstress using the dressmaking skills her mother taught her? Will she make friends or will she be avoided? What is the meaning of the lotus flower? How does Hannah and the townspeople relate to the Sioux tribe who once owned the land? What are some of her mother’s words that Hanna carries with her that give her peace?
Prairie Lotus is inspirational read for young people and adults. Don’t forget to read the author’s notes to learn more about the background to the story and about Linda Sue Park and… The Little House books? Happy reading and insightful learning!