by Grace Lin
Minli and her parents live at the base of the Fruitless Mountain. Everything in their life is gray, depressing, and poor. The only bright spot comes from the stories and legends Minli’s father tells every night. However, Minli’s mother is weary of their life and disapproves of the stories that fill Minli with impossible hopes. One day, Minli decides to take her family’s fortunes into her own hands. Following the instructions of a talking goldfish, Minli sets out to find the characters from her father’s stories and to bring life back to the mountain.
I loved this book so much. It is the ultimate feel good book for me. I couldn’t help but smile through the whole thing. The importance of happiness, love, and friendship comes through completely, but it doesn’t feel at all cheesy. It is just magical and happy. On top of that, everything in the story fits together perfectly. Grace Lin incorporates Chinese folk tales into Minli’s journey and creates a story full of magic. Even though the book alternates between Minli’s journey, her parents’ struggle with her disappearance, and the pieces of the folk tales, it is never choppy or confusing. Every supporting character, no matter how small, ends up being important to the overall story. Nothing is just thrown in. It all has a purpose. Even though this is definitely a children’s book, I would recommend it to anyone.