The Book

The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong

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The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong:

A hysterically funny debut novel about discovering where you come from—even if you have to lie to get there.

When Vee Crawford-Wong’s history teacher assigns an essay on his family history, Vee knows he’s in trouble. His parents—Chinese-born dad and Texas-bred Mom—are mysteriously and stubbornly close-lipped about his ancestors. So, he makes it all up and turns in the assignment. And then everything falls apart.

After a fistfight, getting cut from the basketball team, offending his best friend, and watching his grades plummet, one thing becomes abundantly clear to Vee: No one understands him! If only he knew where he came from… So Vee does what anyone in his situation would do: He forges a letter from his grandparents in China, asking his father to bring their grandson to visit. Astonishingly, Vee’s father agrees. But in the land of his ancestors, Vee learns that the answers he seeks are closer to home then he could have ever imagined.

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“A school assignment to research his family tree sends Vee (named for the letter) on a journey of discovery, real and metaphorical, hilarious and moving, that’s as much about the future as the past… Like the rounded characters, the plot avoids cliché and oversimplification. Life is a balancing act, Vee finds, in this book that belongs on every multicultural reading list. Knowing where we come from matters, but assigning too much power to ancestry can be more limiting than illuminating. While characters with mixed heritages are increasingly visible in teen literature, their experience in a rapidly shifting cultural landscape is seldom explored in depth. This first-rate debut does exactly that.” – Kirkus Starred Review

“…Suffice it to say, the China trip is the best part of the story, full of suspense regarding who they’ll meet and benefiting from the well-drawn relationship between Vee and his father. The R-rated high-school element includes some stereotyping, and Vee’s intense self-reflection gets a bit overdone. Still, the bittersweet conclusion saves the day and shines a poignant light on family life, regret, and gratitude.” – Booklist

“Vee’s narrative voice is lyrical, full of witty snark and credible sophomore angst… Besides being a stylistically compelling coming-of-age narrative with a warm nuclear family dynamic, this will be a boon for collections in need of high-quality titles featuring contemporary Asian-American protagonists.” – The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“…upbeat, entertaining, and humorous.” – School Library Journal