The Great Wall of Lucy Wu is a humorous story by Wendy Wan-Long Shang, about a Chinese-American sixth-grader. Written from the 11-year-old’s point of view, the story is about her basketball aspirations, friendships, discovery of cultural roots and coming to terms with the fact that things will not always go according to your plans. And if you let yourself go with the flow of things rather than sulk at not getting your way, you may just be presently surprised at the outcome.
Lucy thinks she would have the room to herself when her elder sister went off to college but her grandmother’s sister comes over to visit from China – for several months – and stays in Lucy’s room. Lucy creates a wall of the bookshelf and study table in the room to mark the boundaries but it is not so easy to ignore another person in the room, especially if it is a sweet soul who reminds her of her dear departed grandmother.
In a very interesting and realistic way the author has depicted Lucy’s struggle with her Chinese roots as she only identifies herself as an American. Lucy understands little Chinese and would rather have pizza than any Chinese dish, but with Aunt Yi Po in the house, she can’t escape both.
After lots of disappointments and discoveries, our little heroine realises the richness in relations and culture, and also achieves her goal of being the basketball captain of sixth graders.
The Great Wall of Lucy Wu is a delightful story that any school-going child can easily identify with as it deal with everyday issues that are so familiar. However, the subtle lessons in Chinese culture and cuisine that the reader gets can get too much for anyone who is not Chinese.
Published in Dawn, Young World, January 16th, 2015