BOOKS: From Ghetto To West Point

Gus Lee's China Boy becomes a man of honor

The book that follows an accomplished first novel is like the younger sibling of a child prodigy: its achievements appear smaller than they actually are, and its flaws more serious. Gus Lee's China Boy was as precocious as they come. Based on the author's own childhood, it told of a first-generation Chinese-American misfit named Kai Ting who struggles to grow up in a predominantly black San Francisco neighborhood. The youngster stands up to the ghetto's bullies and his Caucasian stepmother, who imposes a harsh Americanization regimen that bans Chinese language and customs. Out of these fresh and dramatic materials Lee fashioned...

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