When he accidentally kills a Manchu, a fifteen-year-old Chinese boy is sent to America to join his father, an uncle, and other Chinese working to build a tunnel for the transcontinental railroad through the Sierra Nevada mountains in 1867. Sequel to "Mountain light."
Original publication date
The themes in this book are: Chinese laborers, emigration, cold and hunger, poverty and exhaustion, maimings and death, and survival and adventure. This book appeals to students who enjoy realistic/ historical fiction.
Uncle Foxfire is a visionary who dreams of learning more about America's machines and the new 'fire wagon' to free his people from the Manchurian rule and the English opium trade wars. Father and Uncle sign contracts to work on the transcontinental railroad where Otter joins them, only to discover themselves treated as the worst kind of slaves under impossible working and living conditions.
Ultimately, with his Uncle dead and his injured Father sent home, Otter will lead the Chinese in a protest to improve their wages and living conditions and participate in the completion of the railroad.
This Newbery Honor book was fair but not earth-shattering. I admit to falling in and out of attention as I listened to it, although it did have its occasional gripping moments.
The description of the conditions is long and detailed, and the begiinning of the story which occrus in China after the British have introduced opium trade is left unfinished. An interesting book, but a difficult one.