The Fire Horse Girl
Jade Moon is not the average Chinese immigrant, and this is not a stereotypical story of immigrants rising to success despite formidable obstacles. Jade creates her own turmoil wherever she goes, in spite of trying to behave in the opposite fashion. A fire horse girl, Jade was born under an astrological sign that carries with it a curse: the tendency to be independent, speak out of turn, match insult with insult, and much more that earns Jade an unsavory reputation in her Chinese village. Her dream is to escape China, to be free and independent. She finds her chance with the appearance of Sterling Promise – a friend of Jade Moon’s uncle, who dared to leave China in the hope of finding a better life. On the trip to America, Jade and Sterling develop an enigmatic friendship. But when Jade discovers that she was being “used,” she declares her separation from her family and Sterling and strikes out to settle in 1920s California and work for the Chinese Tong.
The most potent scenes of this book cover a typical day in Jade Moon’s world, where the reader meets her feisty spirit and huge dreams. The author skillfully portrays Jade’s slowly developing friendship with Sterling Promise long after his betrayal, the horrific living conditions and spirit of Angel Island for immigrants newly arrived to California from abroad, Jade’s brutal training in the Tong, and her unbelievably brave (or terribly stupid, depending on one’s point of view) escape. While this is marketed as a YA novel, The Fire Horse Girl will mesmerize readers of all ages and is a fine example of historical fiction. Watch for this and future novels from the talented Kay Honeyman.