Author: Andrew Xia Fukuda
Performed by Luke Daniels
Released: December 2012 by Brilliance Audio
Category: Young Adult/Murder/Mystery
Xing, pronounced Shing, is one of two Asian students in an otherwise all white American High School. The other is Naomi Lee, the only student Xing is able to interact with and they become fast friends. They are complete opposites, Naomi being outgoing and friendly while Xing is quiet, reserved and a loner. Not surprising due to the fact he’s either being bullied and made fun of or given the cold shoulder by everyone other than Naomi. All Xing wants is to be accepted and liked for himself but realises it’s unlikely to happen.
When students start going missing fear and tension build in the community. And yet, it’s through this horror Xing starts to think he may be accepted after all since he is a beautiful singer and now has the lead role in the school musical.
The story explores racism in-depth, how it feels to be an immigrant in America and grow up in an atmosphere of suspicion, bullying and ridicule resulting in a deep-seated loneliness and isolation. It shows how damaging and destructive this behaviour can be. It’s written in such a way that I couldn’t help but be drawn in to Xing’s emotions and feel for him.
Another new student, Jan Blair, is subjected to the same treatment, because she’s plain and lives in a shack. She becomes fixated on Xing which leads to the ultimate tragedy. The murder/mystery aspect is chilling and kept me guessing, I had no idea who the killer was at all.
The ending came totally out of the blue, completely unexpected, I could hardly believe it. I didn’t want to believe it. Xing’s hopelessness, desperation and the injustice of it all is tangible. Incredible writing, very powerful and moving which generates a compelling and heartbreaking story.
Listening to Xing’s thoughts and feelings expressed through Luke Daniels’ narration is emotional in the extreme. The dream Xing and his parents had for a better life which very quickly became more of an ordeal with all the resulting grief and despair is told with sensitivity and feeling.