Parachute Kids by Betty C. Tang

Betty C. Tang’s latest middle grade graphic novel, Parachute Kids, is a mix of fiction and memoir, combining fiction, her family’s first experiences in America, as well as the stories she was told by fellow immigrants she has met. The Lin family’s story is not meant to represent the story of all parachute kids and their families, but is instead meant to introduce readers to the concept of parachute kids, to show their struggle, and to encourage people to share their own stories.

The Lin family is leaving Taiwan to visit the United States for vacation. They have big plans to travel California, hitting all the sites. Unbeknownst to the three Lin siblings, their parents are planning to leave them in the United States while they return to Taiwan. Their parents will return to Taiwan to work while the kids stay behind for better opportunities and schooling. When the parents announce their plans to the kids, big emotions come out: blame, anger, sadness, and more. Once the parents leave and the siblings are left on their own, they are forced to become resilient. They fight, struggle to maintain the household, and are unsure what to do. All they know is they need to stay under the radar since they are without parental guidance and are living as undocumented immigrants with expired visas.

I really enjoyed this book. The author uses different colors to show the change between languages throughout the book, which I appreciated. This book is written for a middle grade audience, but is accessible for adults as well. Tang explores the relationships between the siblings, allowing for growth and struggle to push through. Readers are also allowed a tiny glimpse into the parents’ lives, but this story predominantly takes place from the siblings’ points of view. Parachute Kids doesn’t end with all questions answered, instead leading towards realism with hope for the future. This isn’t the experience of every parachute kid, but there is something in this story to which everyone can relate.

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