Maizy Chen's Last Chance

's last chance

Packed with surprises, heart, and stories within stories, this irresistible novel from an award-winning author celebrates food, fortune, and family.

Welcome to the Golden Palace!

Maizy has never been to Last Chance, Minnesota . . . until now. Her mom’s plan is just to stay for a couple weeks, until her grandfather gets better. But plans change, and as Maizy spends more time in Last Chance (where she and her family are the only Asian Americans) and at the Golden Palace—the restaurant that’s been in her family for generations—she makes some discoveries. For instance:   You can tell a LOT about someone by the way they order food.   And people can surprise you. Sometimes in good ways, sometimes in disappointing ways.   And the Golden Palace has secrets.

But the more Maizy discovers, the more questions she has. Like, why are her mom and her grandmother always fighting? Who are the people in the photographs on the office wall? And when she discovers that a beloved family treasure has gone missing—and someone has left a racist note—Maizy decides it’s time to find the answers.---from the publisher

288 pages                                   978-1984830258                               Ages 8-12

Keywords: family, Asian American, diversity, diverse books, prejudice and racism, food, family secrets, family life, Asian American author, 8 year old, 9 year old, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old, multigenerational, humor, heritage, understanding yourself, understanding others, Newbery Honor


Maizy's story is a fascinating look at how children relate to their parents, about the expectations of the children of immigrants, and about how powerful family history can be. Maizy's mother takes her back to her grandparents' home because her grandfather is seriously ill. Maizy doesn't really have a relationship with them - they disagreed with her mother's career as a food artist and have not been in Maizy's life. Now Maizy and her mom are living in her mother's childhood home and trying to help out with her grandfather's doctor visits and the restaurant while navigating the distance that has grown between her mother and grandparents over the years. It doesn't help that Maizy feels out of place as one of the few Asian Americans in the small town, especially after there is vandalism and some hateful graffiti at the restaurant.

I enjoyed the time Maizy spent with her grandfather and the stories he told her about their family's past. Many readers will probably encounter the concept of "paper sons" for the first time in this novel, since it is not often included in social studies lessons. I hope that they become curious enough to do some research of their own about those details in American history - the Gold Rush, the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, the Chinese Exclusion Act, and other parts of Opa's stories. Watching Maizy accept her Oma and Opa and helping them to accept her mother's choices is a heartwarming and at times heart-wrenching journey, but readers will be glad they took it.---from the publisher

Recommended by:  Suzanne Costner, Teacher Librarian, Tennessee USA

See more of her recommendations:

User reviews

Have you read this book? We'd love to hear what you think. Click the button below to write your own review!
Already have an account? or Create an account