cover image American Dragons: Twenty-Five Asian American Voices

American Dragons: Twenty-Five Asian American Voices

Laurence Yep. HarperCollins Publishers, $16 (237pp) ISBN 978-0-06-021494-4

``If there is one animal that is synonymous with Asian mythology and art--and the heart--it is the dragon,'' writes Yep ( The Rainbow People , Drag on wings ), who adds that when Asians came to America, ``these dragons left their tracks as they wandered into . . . that vast psychological wilderness created by the American Dream.'' His enlightening anthology of 25 stories, poems and essays by Asian Americans delves deeply, examining the inner lives of young people with roots in Japan, China, India, Korea and Southeast Asia. Selections are set in the past and future as well as in the present, and nearly all raise questions about identity as protagonists choose to preserve or reject the values of their ancestors. For example, in ``Who's Hu?'' by Lensey Namioka, a Korean math wiz discovers that being true to herself is more important than gaining popularity by playing the role of an all-American girl. In ``Rain Music,'' Longhang Nguyen traces the emotional pain of a Vietnamese girl who fulfills her parents' dream instead of her own desires. Relationships between adolescents and their parents, grandparents and peers remain a central focus throughout this volume. Arranged thematically in five sections accompanied by brief and eloquent commentaries by the editor, these writings speak to both Asian Americans and the general population; accordingly, they preserve and promote tolerance for minority cultures. Ages 12-up. (June)