Young Adult

Dragon Chica

May-Lee Chai (Author)

Cover image for Dragon Chica by May-Lee Chai

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Dragon Chica

by May-Lee Chai

Nea, a Chinese Cambodian teenage refugee from the Khmer Rouge, flees with what’s left of her family to Texas when a miracle occurs. Struggling to get by in a strange new world, Nea’s mother receives word that a wealthy aunt and uncle have made it to America as well. The resolute little family stuffs Hefty bags full of belongings into the Ford and head north. They are thrilled to help run the newly discovered family business. a Chinese restaurant in Nebraska.

The family is reunited, but soon Nea discovers their miracle is not what she had expected. Tempers flare, local reception is lukewarm if not downright hostile, fights erupt and Nea’s beloved sister Sourdi is growing up and away from her too fast. Then the past — and a forbidden love—threaten to tear them all apart.

Dragon Chica follows Nea, an indomitable character in the tradition of Holden Caulfield and Scout Finch, as she fights to save her family… and herself.

About the Author

May-lee Chai is the author of five books, including The Girl from Purple Mountain, which was nominated for a National Book Award. She is the recipient of a 2006 NEA Grant in Literature and has an M.A. from Yale in East Asian Studies and a second M.A. in English-Creative Writing from the University of Colorado in Boulder. A former reporter for the Associated Press, she is currently a Chinese translator for PEN American Center.


“…a tender story. Sometimes funny, always very much alive…”—Dallas Morning News

 “It is very rare that a coming of age novel transcends its inherent limitations and attains the complex emotional resonance of adult fiction. Dragon Chica does this with great aplomb. The book explores with subtlety and depth the mature, universal issues of identity and connection, but it also retains its direct appeal to younger readers. May-lee Chai has performed a remarkable act of literary magic.” —Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain