I've just come across this piece of novel in the Internet but cannot find the name of it. I want to read the rest
Our parents had known each other in China; we’d even taken
the same boat to America. However, within five years of our
arrival in San Francisco, Norman and I had become strangers.
Line Relatives already established in the city helped Norman’s parents
(5) assimilate. Within a year, they had not only learned English, but
had also become real estate moguls. I learned all this from the
Chinese American gossip machine that constantly tabulated every
family’s level of success. The machine judged my family lacking.
My parents ran a grocery store and, unlike Norman’s family,
(10) gravitated to the immigrant subculture. They never learned
English, but they respected that I tamed that beast of a
language. I was my parents’ communication link with the “outside
My parents denied themselves in order to ensure that I could
(15) attend Baywood, a top private high school. That was where Norman
and I crossed paths again. However much my relative mastery of
English had elevated my status at home, at Baywood I remained a
shy and brainy outsider. Norman was very popular: he played
football and was elected class president. He and gorgeous Judy
(20) Kim were named King and Queen of the Winter Ball; their portrait
adorned every available bulletin board. I scoffed at the
celebrity silently. Back then, I did everything silently.
Compared to Norman, who had already achieved the American teenage
ideal, I was anonymous. From the sidelines I observed his
(25) triumphs with barely acknowledged envy.
In May of our freshman year, Norman approached me after our
“Hey, Angela,” he said as my heart leapt into my throat. “I
missed class a couple of days ago. Can I copy your notes?”
(30) “Sure,” I said. I was horrified to find myself blushing.
We soon became study buddies. It was all business—no small
talk beyond the necessary niceties. But the hours we piled up
studying together generated an unspoken mutual respect and an
unacknowledged intimacy. Judy noticed this and took an increasing
(35) dislike to me. This relationship continued throughout high
One day in eleventh grade, without looking up from the math
problem he was working on, Norman asked: “What schools are you
(40) It was the first time he had shown any real personal
interest in me. “Berkeley, if I’m lucky,” I said.
“You could probably get in anywhere.”
“What do you mean?”
He looked up from his math problem and met my gaze.
(45) “Berkeley is just across the bay. Don’t you want to
experience something new for once? I’m applying to schools back
East,” he said. “You should, too.”
Not for the first time, an exciting vision of ivy-covered
walls and perhaps even a new identity swept over me and was
(50) almost immediately subsumed by a wave of guilt.
“But what about my parents?”
“But what about you?”
Norman had broken a taboo. I launched into a self-righteous
refutation of the possibility he had dared to voice. I told him
(55) that even though I wasn’t popular and my family wasn’t as
successful as his, I at least hadn’t forgotten that it was my
parents who had brought me here and who had struggled so much for
me. How could I make them unhappy?
Norman had expected this outburst. He smiled. “We’re not so
(60) different, you know. We started out in the same boat. Now we’re
in the same boat again.” He laughed. “We’ve always been in the
same boat. Our parents might be kind of different, but they want
us to succeed and be happy.”
“You’re so American,” I said in a tone hovering between
(65) approval and reproach. “You’re not even worried about leaving
your parents to go to school back East.”
“That’s not what being American means,” he insisted.
“Well, what does it mean, then?” I demanded. Surely, I, and
not this superficial football player who needed my academic help,
(70) knew what it meant to be American. That very day I had received
an A on my American History term paper.
“It means, Angela,” he said gently, “that our parents
brought us here so we could have the freedom to figure out for
ourselves what to do with our lives.”
(75) He smiled at my speechlessness and then returned to his math
Without looking up from his notebook, he said, “If I can
decide to go to school back East, so can you.”
Last edited by MiaCulpa; 25-Dec-2010 at 07:30.