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I'm Kellie, an avid reader and school librarian who loves sharing and talking about books.As a middle school librarian I get to spend my days doing just that, while also enjoy discovering the perfect books to share with my friends. Ms. Burke's Books is a continuation of that, a place where I can offer my honest opinions on the books I read and hopefully help match you to your new favorite book!

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Morning Sun in Wuhan by Ying Chang Compestine

Morning Sun in Wuhan


A love of cooking is what is getting 13 year old Mei through her days, with her mother dead and her father working long hours at the hospital. Often alone, she spends most of her time either practing her skills on a cooking video game or making real dishes in the kitchen. Which is what she continues to do as her city of Wuhan begins to shut down; her father warns her not to leave without a mask and doesn't come home anymore from his shifts. Slowly the city goes on lockdown as the COVID-19 pandemic starts, with Mei having to navigate what she can do to help while keeping herself safe. Interspersed with recipes for the dishes she makes in the novel, Morning Sun in Wuhan celebrates the culture and people of Wuhan against the backdrop of the pandemic.

My Thoughts

Ying Compestine was born in Wuhan and her love of her city is clear throughout the Morning Sun in Wuhan. With the character of Mei grounding the plot the reader fully sees Wuhan and its people beyond being the COVID-19 epicenter. While living through an extraordinary and frightening situation, Mei is also a normal teenager who gets sad about her mom, misses her friends, and dreams of exceling at the video game Chop Chop. From her window and through her phone she gets glimpses of what is happening, from the orchestrated grocery deliveries to a neighbor's body being taken out.

The pandemic may be the setting but it is not what the novel is about. From her window she realized there was a need, that there were some people who didn't know how or were unable to cook for themselves. Unable to take action by herself Mei learns to rely on her community as well as give back to it, setting up a neighborhood chat with cooking instructions and asking her aunt if she could vounteer with her. Mei does not go out and save the day; instead she figures out how she can help, then works with others to do a small but meaningful part. 

Morning Sun in Wuhan is a beautifully written story of a young girl learning how to be a member of her community and the importance of it, even in the most frightening times. 

Book Information

Author: Ying Chang Compestine
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publish Date: November 8, 2022

Genre(s): realistic fiction
Recommended for: upper elementary, middle school, even early high school/teens
Themes: family, community, finding hope in trauma
Protagonist Description13 year old female, Chinese 
Trigger Warnings: Mentions of death from COVID-19 may be sensitive for some students.

I received an ARC (advanced reader copy) of this book for free from NetGalley and Clarion Books. This is my honest review and all opinions are my own.

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