Making Friends With Billy Wong
And then there's Billy Wong, a Chinese-American boy who shows up to help in her grandmother's garden. Billy's great-aunt and uncle own the Lucky Foods grocery store, where days are long and some folks aren't friendly. For Azalea, whose family and experiences seem different from most everybody she knows, friendship has never been easy. Maybe this time, it will be.
Inspired by the true accounts of Chinese immigrants who lived in the American South during the civil rights era, these side by side stories--one in Azalea's prose, the other in Billy's poetic narrative--create a poignant novel and reminds us that friends can come to us in the most unexpected ways.
This was very well-researched, and Scattergood uses her own Southern perspective to good advantage.
Readers who liked this author's Glory Be or Levine's The Lions of Little Rock, or who need a gentle reminder that it is possible to be friends with people who are not exactly like ourselves will find Making Friends with Billy Wong to be a compelling and informative read.
In “Making Friends with Billy Wong” our main character, Azalea, has to spend the summer with a grandmother whom she does not know, nor is sure she likes very much. Worse yet, a Chinese boy shows up in the neighborhood, and when she is encouraged to make friends with him, visit his family’s grocery store, and (gasp!) talk with him, she’s not sure she can.
For starters, she isn’t very good at talking with people she doesn’t know and she doesn’t know how to talk with boys…and a Chinese boy?! How will she ever talk with him?
When the need arises, Azalea puts her fears and misconceptions aside and finds out that Billy Wong not only speaks perfect English, he has lived in America his whole life, AND he’s never ever been to China. Turns out, he’s pretty decent and does most of the talking for the two of them, which is just fine with her.
Billy Wong also joins Azalea on a mad adventure to a pecan grove that almost gets out of hand, shows her the history of his family in the South, and teaches her a thing or two about being a good friend.
Scattergood has this gift to write realistic dialogue that accompanies her thorough research, making the characters ring true.