These reviews have been copied from the New York Public Library’s Website – http://www.nypl.org
School Library Journal
SLJ Reviews 2011 September
Gr 10 Up—Eighteen-year-old Ray Liu, a Chinese immigrant, leads a privileged life. He lives in a large suburban home, wears trendy clothing, and is equipped with the latest technologies. However, none of these things mitigate Ray’s difficulties with fitting in at his Canadian high school; pleasing his strict army veteran father; and accepting his sexuality. Ray’s struggle with speaking English makes it especially hard for him to adjust to life in a new country. As a means of escape, he immerses himself in a computer role-playing game, Rebel State; even though other aspects of his life appear to be in flux, the game makes Ray feel in control. But the feeling soon evaporates when his father accesses Ray’s computer and discovers that he has been surfing gay websites. The repercussions are swift, and the teen is disowned. He heads to downtown Toronto and promptly receives an education in the harsh realities of street life. He is robbed, beaten, and taken in by Han, an older man with ulterior motives. Yee’s sophisticated juxtaposition of immigrant narratives with questions of sexual identity is compelling and poignant. Unfortunately, stilted dialogue and an all-too-neat ending defying credibility detract from the authenticity of this story.—Lalitha Nataraj, Escondido Public Library, CA
[Page 178]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Reviews 2011 September #1
All of Ray’s fellow Chinese-immigrant classmates struggle with English, but the 18-year-old is the slowest. Feeling small, Ray finds empowerment in online role-playing games. But even they provide no refuge when his militaristic father discovers the boy is gay and kicks him out of the house. Taking to the streets, Ray is soon mugged, and his wallet and ID are stolen. To survive, it appears he may have to become a money boy, selling his body to older men. Set in Toronto, which has Canada’s largest Chinese population, Yee’s latest offers insight into the city’s immigrant-Chinese and gay communities. Though Ray—stubbornly proud and sometimes self-pitying and lazy—is an often unsympathetic protagonist, his experiences at home and, even more so, on the street are vividly presented and are sure to invite both thought and discussion. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
The Horn Book
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Spring
Since Ray’s family emigrated from China to Canada, the teen hasn’t been able to live up to his father’s expectations. After Dad finds out Ray is gay, he gets kicked out of the house. In his brief time on the streets, he’s beaten, robbed, and introduced to prostitution. Ray is a strong and sympathetic protagonist making his way through problem-novel territory.
Voice of Youth Advocates Reviews
VOYA Reviews 2011 October
Ray Liu has many obstacles in his life. He is a new immigrant from China to Toronto, Canada; he does not speak English well; he has trouble in high school; he does not get along with his father and stepmother, and he is gay—a secret he has kept from his family. His father observes him surfing gay websites on the computer and gets very angry. As a result of the confrontation, Ray’s father throws him out of the house. Ray thinks life on the streets will be easy—he has his phone, money in his pocket, a few clothes, his laptop, and money in the bank. He spends a week living on the streets and in shelters. Throughout the week, Ray begins to lose hope and faith when he is robbed of his identity documents, laptop, and money. In desperation, Ray turns to an older male for comfort and to make money for food. This too turns out to be less than Ray hoped, as the man he thought was a friend is a male prostitution pimp. As Ray is contemplating a life as a money boy (male prostitute), his father re-enters his life and offers him a way to return home. Money Boy is a poignant tale about immigrant life and life as a homosexual teen. It will provide much food for thought for students who are struggling to tell their true nature to their family and friends. Unfortunately, much of the language is stilted, as if an immigrant were writing the story, and this distracts from a fluid reading of the novel.—Charla Hollingsworth 4Q 2P S
Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.