The narrator, a twelve-year-old girl, leaves her beloved grandmother in Mainland China on an emergency visit to her own family in Hong Kong. As she unexpectedly settles down in the strange new place, she experiences many ups and downs in her life and a strong sense of displacement from the family and country she has left behind. After months of an agonized existence, she resolves to overcome this identity confusion and become who she really is — a person in her own right, proud of her mainland Chinese heritage.
Madhulika Gautama in The Hindu on August 26, 2013
Do you know what it’s like to move to a new city and be unfamiliar with the language, people and their way of life? In Bungee Cord Hair by Ching Yeung Russell, the narrator, a 12-year-old girl, leaves mainland China on an emergency visit to see her sick mother in Hong Kong. As she learns the truth about her mother’s condition, she struggles to learn English, refine her accent and even change her hairstyle!
Written in free verse, the book chronicles the little girl’s transformation in short, easy-to-read poems.
Bungee Cord Hair is a book for those who being themselves at school or home has not always been easy. The engaging writing is complimented by striking illustrations that bring the poems alive. While some of the poems will bring a lump to your throat, others will bring a smile to your face with their wry humour. The book is the winner of the Scholastic Asian Book Award 2012.
Bijal Vachharajani in Time Out Mumbai - Book Nook on August 16 2013
Books in verse seem to be the newest form of young adult fiction to be lining the shelves of bookstores... A 12-year-old girl has to leave her grandmother in Mainland China to rejoin her family in Hong Kong. The narrator finds herself lost in this strange city, striving to continue her education while grappling with questions of identity and trying to understand where she actually belongs.
Set around the time when the Chinese government closed the door to Hong Kong, the book is a forceful read that deals with complex issues of immigration, displacement and growing up in the backdrop of political upheaval. In her author notes, Russell confesses that the protagonist reflects the struggles she faced as a child – “When I first came to Hong Kong at age 12, like most people who first immigrate to a new place, I faced quite a bit of discrimination (I didn’t even know that term then), which I had never anticipated.”
Russell writes compellingly, using simple words to sensitively portray how children feel when uprooted from familiar spaces and how little choice they actually have in matters that impact them hugely. Winner of the Scholastic Asian Book Award 2012, the book’s a sequel to Ching Yeung Russell’s Tofu Quilt. There’s a helpful glossary at the back which explains the lesserknown Chinese references.
Reviews of Bungee Cord Hair