You Are Here: Connecting Flights, edited by Ellen Oh (Allida, March 2023), is a collection of related short stories by a variety of Asian-American authors that captures the Asian-American experience by telling the stories of 12 different children waiting in an airport for their flights. By tying the children’s stories together, Oh has created a sweet book that shows the interconnectedness of the Asian-American experience.
Each of the children in the book’s chapters is at the airport for a different reason. Most are traveling, some are awaiting a layover, some are just arriving, and one child is there because his mother works in the airport. The chapters are each written by a different Asian-American children’s author, including Linda Sue Park, Erin Entrada Kelly, and Grace Lin, as well as others I’m not yet familiar with.
In these stories, is the weekend of the Fourth of July, so this “American” holiday is also one that these Asian-American children have mixed feelings about. There is much to celebrate about American culture, and since they have been raised in America, they are American. However, their family culture impacts how they feel about being both Asian and American. I appreciated how the family attitudes were significant, either for good or ill, and I found this internal conflict for these kids a nice foil to the external conflict they experience from the passive and aggressive racism around them.
The racism the characters experienced is not something that I can relate to, and so this middle grade book was an important and eye-opening glimpse into the different lives. It is a window for me and I’m sure it’s a helpful mirror to those that may be able to relate. I feel like I need to reread the volume just to see the big picture of how the stories all fit together, as well as to better understand the big picture for Asian-American children today. You Are Here is a great middle grade volume for everyone to read.
I read a digital review copy of this book.