“The Secret Voice of Gina Zhang,” by Dori Jones Yang

“The Secret Voice of Gina Zhang,” by Dori Jones Yang is a novel about a Chinese girl attending school for the first time in America.

Book Cover Art for The Secret Voice of Gina Zhang by Dori Jones YangWhen Gina and her family move from China to the United States her parents tell her that she will be able to learn English really fast, and that soon Gina will be translating for the adults in the family. Gina's hope is that this move will give her a chance to become a new person. At her old school in China Gina was shy and quiet. However, she is confident that here in America she will be brave and outgoing.

But when Gina attends school for the first time she finds that it is much harder than she realized. On the one hand Gina already knows the schoolwork that the class is covering. For her age she is much smarter than the other students. The problem is that Gina can't understand English. In ESL class, however, Gina finds that her throat tightens up and she can't seem to speak at all, even in Chinese, to one of the interpreters.

Gina's muteness frustrates everyone, her parents, teachers, and the other classmates. But one of the girls, named Priscilla is not turned off like the others. Priscilla is determined to befriend Gina even if it means that she has to do all the talking herself. Gradually Gina responds to Priscilla's openness and persistence until she regains her confidence and her voice.

“The Secret Voice of Gina Zhang” is a pleasant novel. Gina is a fascinating character, with an imaginative mind, but her shyness limits her from showing her potential to others. The contrast between Gina's quiet nature and Priscilla's constant talking make “The Secret Voice of Gina Zhang” interesting. I feel that Dori Jones Yang has created a wonderful novel peopled by sensitive characters. I recommend “The Secret Voice of Gina Zhang” to all young readers.

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Inkweaver Review 2009-06-08T10:24:00-05:00

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