Meixing Lim and her family have arrived at the New House in the New Land, inherited from First Uncle who died tragically and unexpectedly while picking oranges in the backyard. Everything is vast and unknown to Meixing and not in a good way, including the house she has dubbed Big Scary. She is embarrassed by the second-hand shoes given to her by the kind neighbours, has trouble understanding the language at school, and with fitting in and making new friends. Her solace is a glasshouse in the garden that inexplicably holds the sun and the moon and all the secrets of her memory and imagination.
Her fragile universe is rocked when tragedy strikes and Ma Ma refuses to face the world outside. Meixing finds herself trapped within the shrinking walls of Big Scary. Her parents said this would be a better life for them all, but it feels like the worst and most heart-breaking experience of Meixing's entire existence. Surviving will take all the resilience and inner belief of this brave girl to turn their world around.
Meixing Lim is in a New Land where she hardly speaks or reads the language and, after migrating with her Ba Ba and Ma Ma, she is finding the transition difficult. This is made even harder when her father dies in an accident, and her heavily pregnant mother refuses to leave the house.
With the help of two other outsiders from school, Meixing finds the strength to both do well at school and help her mother. Her neighbour, Mrs Huynh, is also leading light, providing care and food.
This is a heartfelt and hopeful story of a girl trying to just make sense of a strange New Land. Entwined with a little magic, you will be swept along with Meixing’s journey and be glad to have shared it.
With themes of migration, death, racism, bullying and family traditions, this is a terrific, easy to read novel that is best suited to ages 10 - 13.
Reviewed by Rob