Mott Street: A Chinese American Family’s Story of Exclusion and Homecoming

Penguin Pr. Apr. 2023. 400p. Tr $29. ISBN 9780525557371.
A wonderful snapshot of a history at once unique to Chin and also likely representative of so many families who made the United States their home through trials and tribulations. Though this nonfiction piece takes on a memoir vibe, it is very much a family history that beautifully brings together Chin’s family members from similar geographic origins to an even more similar geographic present. Chin tells the tale of her family’s journey from Guangdong Province, China, to Mott Street, New York City, in four chronologically grouped parts that include photos of her family and documents sprinkled throughout. Though the content of Chin’s family history is not always easy to reckon with, her writing can transport readers in ways not common for nonfiction books. Complete with chapter-by-chapter bibliography and researcher memos, this title is recommended for high school collections that are looking to amplify their American history collections, as well as those that have readers interested in family history as it relates to the American immigrant experience. An authentic history of the Chinese Exclusion Act and historical practices of foot binding are also included.
VERDICT Chin’s thoughtful research and careful diction renders a wonderful window into her family and likely a mirror for many others.

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