The Secret Battle of Evan Pao by Wendy Wan-Long Shang

Published by Scholastic Press

Summary:  Evan and his mother and sister have recently relocated from California to a small town in Virginia.  His dad was involved in a financial scandal that led to his arrest, and the family is trying to start over.  Things are different in Virginia, where Evan’s sixth-grade teacher leads Battlefield Day every year to teach about the U.S. Civil War.  There’s plenty of Confederacy pride among his classmates, particularly Brady, a bully who makes racist comments to Evan.  Evan surprises many–even himself–when he learns that Chinese Americans fought in the Civil War, and this discovery helps him feel more a part of the community.  He still has to deal with Brady, though, a relationship that becomes more fraught after Brady is accused of firing a rifle shot into the Pao house.  When Evan’s dog goes missing, though, Brady proves to be a surprising ally, and both boys discover that people are not always what they seem.  272 pages; grades 4-7.

Pros:  A compelling story that is told from many different points of view in a way that reminded me of some of Gordon Korman’s books.  The many interesting issues and characters (including Evan, who is sensitive to the point of having an almost psychic ability to tell when someone is lying) would make this a great choice for a book club or class discussion.

Cons:  I was hoping for some more resolution around the storyline with Evan’s dad

August 1, 2022 at 03:13PM Janet Dawson