Paper Daughter

Paper Daughter

As a young journalist, Maggie Chen has her late father's writing skills and reporting instincts. His recent death has left a gaping hole in her life, but she is determined to complete the summer internship he helped her arrange at the local newspaper.

That Jillian rushed in and grabbed photo desk before Maggie could even open her mouth - good thing Maggie won't be working directly with the other intern, who is all talk and nosiness. But internship means trying every aspect of the job, so she'll start at the sports desk and move to other assignments as the summer goes on.

Maggie and her professor mom start to notify Dad's out-of-town contacts about his death, about that hit-and-run driver. When one call connects Maggie to Dad's best friend in college, pieces of his life story begin to crumble as the truth about his past erases the family stories that he'd always told them. Now she's wondering about the unfinished articles in her dad's files.

If Dad wasn't from a well-to-do family, then where did he come from? Why did he contact so many people in California just before his death? Was he in Seattle's old Chinatown on the day he died for a newspaper story or on a personal investigation?

During her first "hard news" assignment, Maggie learns that someone else was killed in the same area on the same day, someone who might have been ready to blow the whistle on corrupt land development deals. Was her father's death connected to that, too?

Murmurs of Chinese immigrants' stories thread through Maggie's search for answers, stories of "paper sons" claimed as blood relatives on immigration applications, of changed names and unchanged resentments. Can she ever know who she really is?

Recommended by: Katy Manck, Librarian-at-Large (retired academic/corporate/school librarian), Gilmer, Texas, USA


Sixteen-year-old Maggie Chen is picking up the pieces of her life after her journalist father was killed in a freak hit and run accident while he was away on a trip in Seattle. Police think he had gotten lost and stopped to ask directions which would explain why he was in the International District. As she's cleaning up after a basement flood, Maggie finds her father's notebooks and stumbles on some information that turns her whole world upside down. Who was her father really? Sixty years earlier Fai-Yi Li and his sister flee China and escape to the United States after his sister is attacked by her future husband and he lies dead at her feet. They make their way to Chinatown in Seattle, Washington where they will pretend to be the children of Li Dewei. They are his children on paper which is enough to get them past the questions of the authorities. Day by day Fai-Yi Li and his sister, Sucheng, work in the laundry and try to learn the ways of their new country. Day by day, Maggie Chen starts a new job at the Herald as an intern. She is following in her father's footsteps as a journalist. The early days of the internship are not what she imagined. But after working in a few departments she gets the opportunity to be part of a real story. It looks as though a rising politician might be implicated in some bribery schemes about some building contracts. A city employee was gunned down on the same day her father was killed in the hit and run. Slowly these two facts begin to come together to make a full picture. Why was her father in the International District? How does her life and the life of Fai-Yi Li connect? It's a well constructed mystery and an insightful look at the discrimination experienced by the Chinese after they were no longer needed to construct the Transcontinental Railroad. 211 pages

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