Chenxi and the Foreigner
by Sally Rippin
Annick Press, 2009
ISBN 978-1-55451-172-3 (pb)
ISBN 978-1-55451-173-0 (hc)
$10.95 (pb) / $21.95 (hc), 224 pp, ages 14+
Eighteen-year old Anna, the foreigner, is determined to avoid an American cocoon while staying with her father and attending art school in Shanghai. She reaches out to local students for companions and falls in love with the handsome and talented Chenxi. Chenxi, however, is passionate about his art and his country. Through him and his radical artist friends, Anna experiences China in the period just before the Tiananmen massacre. An impetuous and adventurous young woman, she discovers to her horror that her actions and her love for Chenxi have placed him in danger with the authorities.
This is a compelling love story, full of convincing details of place and time that reflect the author’s own years of studying art in Shanghai. It illustrates the danger of simplistic notions about freedom and crossing cultural divides. At the same time, it celebrates artists everywhere who, as Sally Rippin says, “dare to speak freely.”
This review is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s September 2009 issue.