Honeyman, Kay. The Fire Horse Girl
1 January 2013, Arthur A Levine
Jade Moon is the most troublesome kind of girl to have in 1920s China-- strong willed and adventurous, true to her birth year of the fire horse. With her mother gone, her father struggles to keep her in line, but when he is approached by a friend of his dead brother to go to America, he thinks this might be the answer to Jade Moon's problems. Sterling Promise has the brother's papers to get into the US, but Jade Moon and her father have to memorize the family history for when they will be grilled on Angel Island. After a long sea voyage, the trio arrives in the US, but the officials are not happy with their story and don't want to let them into the country, especially Jade Moon. Women are only brought in from China if they are going to be prostitutes or wives, and Jade Moon finds out that her father has made plans for her to marry. Seeing the plight of a woman she meets while being held at Angel Island, Jade Moon makes the daring decision to escape dressed in Sterling's clothes and plans to make her way to the home of a woman from the ship, Mrs. Ying. She manages to escape, but finds that the Ying family is no longer at the address she was given, and in order to survive, she falls in with a gang! Not sure of what else to do, she works under their guidance for a while, and then finds out that her insider's knowledge will be useful in taking down some gang related houses of prostitution! Finally, Jade Moon's personality works to her advantage.
Strengths: This was a very interesting story of a little explored area of US history. I love the cover, and Jade Moon was a great character. Many times, strong girls are put into historical novels and seem anachronistic, but I thought that the personality was realistic, and the way that Jade Moon reacted to her circumstances was reasonable. I enjoyed this one.
Weaknesses: More of a young adult book, especially when the prostitution plot line arises. Not that there's anything inappropriate, but the book's length and emotional complexity are more suited to high school.