Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park

Prairie Lotus

by Linda Sue Park

If you appreciate books that engage you in diversity and the struggles of other cultures, Prairie Lotus may be of interest to you. It is currently a nominee for the Maine Student Book Award for 2021-2022 and considered by Kirkus Reviews as the Best Middle School Historical Fiction of 2020.

The author, Linda Sue Park,  is a multi-award-winning author, including the 2002 Newbery Medal for ‘A Single Shard.’ Having parents who are both Chinese, many of the events in Prairie Lotus are written from the author’s own experiences with heartache and discrimination. Hanna Edmunds, the main character, is also Asian American, having a Chinese-Korean mother and European American father.

Prairie Lotus begins when Hanna is 5 years old in Los Angeles in the mid-1870s. She barely remembers the riots against the Chinese by some white citizens who disliked anyone who was not European American. These riots included many fatalities of Asian Americans.  At that time, Hanna’s mother developed a lung ailment as a result of trying to help rescue a neighbor’s Asian American store which had been set ablaze by some of the white population.  Six years later, after many years of struggling with breathing, Hanna’s mother died.

Hanna, now 12, and her father, pack up their wagon and travel for 3 years, their destination being La Forge in Dakota Territory. Mr. Edmunds and Hanna will set up a dry goods store. Will they be treated differently in LaForge or will past cruel acts against them persist? Will she be allowed to go to school and get a diploma? Will she become a better dressmaker using the seamstress skills her mother taught her? Will she make any friends or will she be shunned? What is the significance of the lotus flower?  What is Hannah’s and the townspeople’s relationship with the Sioux tribe that once owned the land? What are some of the sayings from her mother that Hanna carries with her that give her peace?

Prairie Lotus is an inspirational read for both youth and adults. Don’t forget to read the Author’s Notes to learn more about the background of the story and Linda Sue Park and… to see if there are similarities and differences in Linda Sue Park’s point of view toward the LaForge Sioux and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s, author of The Little House books? Happy reading and insightful learning!

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