What Happened This Summer (2006)
What Happened This Summer takes us into the turbulent lives of Chinese-Canadian teenagers. We are drawn into their often agonizing struggles to balance their parents' traditional expectations against the pull of today's urban youth culture. The author gives us a vivid snapshot of the tensions which arise from the immigration experience as he explores the profound impact of uprootedness upon the lives of young people.
“…The style of Yee’s writing is almost poetic in its clarity and precision. The language is simple without being patronizing or overly colloquial.
“…a moving and memorable revelation of today’s youth who often live in turmoil between the traditional expectations of their parents and the social stress of the urban youth culture they are part of. These are poignant stories of Chinese-Canadian youth, specifically; however, the book is not so unique as to be exclusive. There is enough universal relevance and authentic voice for other youth to read and appreciate.”
--Diana Wilkes, CM Magazine Vol. 13 No. 8 (2006)
“Yee’s characters are achingly realistic, and the situations show his understanding of how difficult it is for many of these young people to bridge the gamp between their background and present circumstances.”
--Helen Norrie, Winnipeg Free Press, 2006-08-20.
“So, again, what happened this summer? While each person’s story could stand alone, Yee is actually setting up the strings of his narrative to be pulled together in the final chapter. This watershed time in all their lives reaches its peak at that point and it is as powerful as it is unexpected.”
--Marjorie Coughlan, www.papertigers.org, 2007 July
“What’s unusual about these stories is the way Yee dodges the predictable, teen-learns-better—in other words, becomes more like the adults—plot. The features of immigrant experience, such as taking English lessons or dating across cultural boundaries, become metaphors for burgeoning self-awareness rather than routes to assimilation, either to parents (the old culture) or to the dominant culture. These are stories of exploration, even vignettes, that conclude with questions rather than decisive turns. Yee favours short sentences, simple words and first-person narrators, which make his stories friendly and accessible to kids with limited reading skills.”
--Deirdre Baker, Toronto Star, 2007-02-18.