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The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong

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When Vee Crawford-Wong’s history teacher assigns an essay on his family history, Vee knows he’s in trouble. His parents—Chinese-born dad and Texas-bred Mom—are mysteriously and stubbornly close-lipped about his ancestors. So, he makes it all up and turns in the assignment. And then everything falls apart. After a fistfight, getting cut from the basketball team, offending hi When Vee Crawford-Wong’s history teacher assigns an essay on his family history, Vee knows he’s in trouble. His parents—Chinese-born dad and Texas-bred Mom—are mysteriously and stubbornly close-lipped about his ancestors. So, he makes it all up and turns in the assignment. And then everything falls apart. After a fistfight, getting cut from the basketball team, offending his best friend, and watching his grades plummet, one thing becomes abundantly clear to Vee: No one understands him! If only he knew where he came from… So Vee does what anyone in his situation would do: He forges a letter from his grandparents in China, asking his father to bring their grandson to visit. Astonishingly, Vee’s father agrees. But in the land of his ancestors, Vee learns that the answers he seeks are closer to home then he could have ever imagined.


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When Vee Crawford-Wong’s history teacher assigns an essay on his family history, Vee knows he’s in trouble. His parents—Chinese-born dad and Texas-bred Mom—are mysteriously and stubbornly close-lipped about his ancestors. So, he makes it all up and turns in the assignment. And then everything falls apart. After a fistfight, getting cut from the basketball team, offending hi When Vee Crawford-Wong’s history teacher assigns an essay on his family history, Vee knows he’s in trouble. His parents—Chinese-born dad and Texas-bred Mom—are mysteriously and stubbornly close-lipped about his ancestors. So, he makes it all up and turns in the assignment. And then everything falls apart. After a fistfight, getting cut from the basketball team, offending his best friend, and watching his grades plummet, one thing becomes abundantly clear to Vee: No one understands him! If only he knew where he came from… So Vee does what anyone in his situation would do: He forges a letter from his grandparents in China, asking his father to bring their grandson to visit. Astonishingly, Vee’s father agrees. But in the land of his ancestors, Vee learns that the answers he seeks are closer to home then he could have ever imagined.

30 review for The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jenni Frencham

    Holland, L. Tam. The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong. Vee Crawford Wong would describe himself as half Texan, half Chinese. He is in high school and he fakes a family tree for Spanish class and fakes a family history for his history class. He's frustrated because he doesn't really know his extended family at all. He ends up conning his family into a trip to China, where he meets his grandfather and finds out that sometimes things don't work out the way we expect them to. What I liked: Holland, L. Tam. The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong. Vee Crawford Wong would describe himself as half Texan, half Chinese. He is in high school and he fakes a family tree for Spanish class and fakes a family history for his history class. He's frustrated because he doesn't really know his extended family at all. He ends up conning his family into a trip to China, where he meets his grandfather and finds out that sometimes things don't work out the way we expect them to. What I liked: The multicultural aspect of this book was good. The details during the Wong family trip to China were good. Vee was a very real, very flawed character. What I didn't like: First, Vee is uber-entitled. His family flies to China (all four of them, plus a guest) because of a letter Vee faked and which his father knew was a fake all along. That's a really expensive lesson for Vee to learn. Second, Vee refers to the girls' volleyball team as half princess and half lesbos. He stereotypes all the supposedly-lesbian volleyball players and uses the term lesbos frequently throughout his narration. That kind of homophobic language is not acceptable, and it did nothing to enhance the story at all. Recommended for: young adults Red Flags: homophobic slurs - "lesbo" and "fa----" neither of which is corrected, ever. Also, Vee is a teen boy, and the book is told from inside his brain. Therefore, lots of thoughts about sex. Overall Rating: 2/5 stars

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    The beginning feels like a watered-down version of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, with Vee Crawford-Wong starring as a half-Chinese, half-Texan, and far more annoying and self-entitled Junior. The second half picks up a bit (in terms of Vee's likability, the action, and in originality), and I did enjoy the conclusion. I would definitely be interested in reading Holland's future work. I DID NOT LIKE how Vee casually uses words like "retard" and "fag" in a derogatory manner and t The beginning feels like a watered-down version of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, with Vee Crawford-Wong starring as a half-Chinese, half-Texan, and far more annoying and self-entitled Junior. The second half picks up a bit (in terms of Vee's likability, the action, and in originality), and I did enjoy the conclusion. I would definitely be interested in reading Holland's future work. I DID NOT LIKE how Vee casually uses words like "retard" and "fag" in a derogatory manner and this is never pointed out as harmful and bad and deplorable (either by the other characters or implied by the narrative). Like, I get that he's a fifteen-year-old boy, but it's still not okay and I felt like there needed to some discussion about why it was not okay. Especially since the author went to the trouble of showing how wrong it was for Vee to call his Chinese-American friend a Twinkie (yellow on the outside, white on the inside, aka white-washed East Asian person) and also how he was basically wrong or misguided about all of the other things he did in the first half of the book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Celeste_pewter

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Two-second recap: In her debut novel, L. Tam Holland explores what it’s like to be a mixed-race teenaged boy, trying to figure out his familial background and his high school life. The results are often funny, chaotic and adventurous – just like life itself. *** Full review: I first heard about The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong from Rich in Color, a blog/twitter account dedicated to finding and sharing YA books with protagonists of color. I was intrigued by the fact that the boo Two-second recap: In her debut novel, L. Tam Holland explores what it’s like to be a mixed-race teenaged boy, trying to figure out his familial background and his high school life. The results are often funny, chaotic and adventurous – just like life itself. *** Full review: I first heard about The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong from Rich in Color, a blog/twitter account dedicated to finding and sharing YA books with protagonists of color. I was intrigued by the fact that the book: 1) depicted a mixed-race protagonist and 2) involved Chinese culture So when the book was released, I decided to check it out. The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong is a funny, realistic and occasionally stark look into one boy's world, and the friends and family around him. *** * Characterizations From the get-go, Vee Crawford-Wong is the quintessential misunderstood bad boy, who’s just looking for a little bit of understanding, and a lot of love. It's not easy being him - he doesn't fit the physical specifications of either a Caucasian or Asian physical stature, and he also has a letter for a first name. Though personality wise, Vee is about as far away from L. Tam Holland as you can get, she does a fantastic job of getting inside his head, and showing just how his background has made him confused, angry and belligerent in the way it has. While she never overtly excuses his behavior, Holland does a fantastic job of showing why Vee thinks his behavior is acceptable. Outside of Vee, I thought the secondary characters were lovely as well. I was particularly taken with Vee's parents - more on this later - and I loved the fact that Vee had friends who were willing to humor him, get mad at him, and were just very genuine in their friendship. * Writing At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, Holland's writing is awesome. Vee's thought process reads like everything you've ever wanted to ask a teenaged boy, but were afraid to. Through Vee's first person POV, Holland beautifully captures the difficulties of being someone who feels like he doesn't belong to either one of the two cultures that he's from. Between Vee's journey of self-discovery, she weaves in moments of smart observation, snappy dialogue and moments that had me cringing, laughing and crying along with him. * Plotting Even though the book does meander a little bit – more on this later - I thought Holland did a relatively good job of depicting Vee’s day-to-day experience, dropping in the occasional bombshell, and propelling the book forward. Holland does an especially good job in moving the direction forward when Vee and his family arrive in China. It would have been really easy for the focus to have been bogged down in how foreign everything seemed to Vee, but Holland did a great job of having Vee and his family stay on track. * The treatment of China/Chinese culture I’ll be frank: as someone who is Chinese, I get a little annoyed when non-Chinese people get things wrong when depicting China, Chinese culture, etc. in literature. L. Tam Holland does it right. She hilariously point out some of the fallacies in American beliefs on what constitutes Chinese culture, but she also even understands subtleties – e.g. why a Chinese person would be insulted to be called a Twinkie. I also strongly appreciated her depiction of the journey to China. She nicely captures the modern eccentricities of a city like Beijing – a city that I have family in, and thus, know very well - while also showing how someone like Vee’s father could be nostalgic for the old days, and have his family stay in a hutong. I also appreciated Holland’s stark, blunt portrayal of the damage that was done during the Cultural Revolution. She’s clearly done her research, and it very clearly shows in the world that she’s created. *** Things that didn’t work: * The lack of parental discipline While I loved the fact that Vee’s parents were actively involved in his life, I was bothered by the fact that they never seemed to discipline him for anything. Without giving any spoilers away, Vee does some pretty crazy things throughout the course of the book. While his actions were definitely in line for someone with his emotional issues, they were also the type of actions that would have had a normal teenager grounded until college, had they done the same thing. But not only do Vee’s parents overlook his actions, they actually state that he’s been driven to these actions due to their (emotional) neglect, which I found a little difficult to swallow. If I were an educator or a parent, I wouldn’t immediately ask my student/reader why Vee’s parents are wrong, but I would use this as an opportunity to ask how they would have chosen to handle the situation differently. * The lack of an arc, or not living up to the synopsis For a book that’s purportedly about Vee discovering his family heritage, the book didn’t actually spend a lot of time on either side of Vee’s family. The reader got one or two sections about Vee’s maternal side of the family in Texas, and got two or three chapters devoted to Vee’s family in China. While I can understand that this book is ultimately about Vee coming to terms with his parents and himself, I felt a little let down, ultimately. The book had promised an awesome journey of self-discovery involving Vee’s paternal grandparents, and didn’t quite pan out. *** Final verdict: While I had some issues with the lack of realism in The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong, I still highly enjoyed the story. L.Tam Holland is clearly a promising debut writer, and I look forward to seeing whatever she writes in the future. I don’t think this juxtaposition is necessarily perfect, but I would recommend The Counterfeit Family Tree… for readers who also enjoyed Robyn Schneider’s The Beginning of Everything. I would also recommend this book for readers who are looking for an unusual hero, whom they might discover is more like themselves than they ever thought.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chalida

    This book has some mixed reviews but it is a book I desperately needed as a teenager. It's about a biracial Chinese/White boy who grew up with a lot of silence around family history and he is determined to figure out what it means to be Chinese. He is determined to figure out his identity while navigating crushes on girls, hate for his history teacher and not making the basketball team. Vee's story is humorous and sweet. As a 40yo, I had the same gut reactions as he does when he finds out how hi This book has some mixed reviews but it is a book I desperately needed as a teenager. It's about a biracial Chinese/White boy who grew up with a lot of silence around family history and he is determined to figure out what it means to be Chinese. He is determined to figure out his identity while navigating crushes on girls, hate for his history teacher and not making the basketball team. Vee's story is humorous and sweet. As a 40yo, I had the same gut reactions as he does when he finds out how his interracial parents deal with racism. A much-needed book for me and will be awesome to share with Liam and Rory as they get older. A bit too much profanity for them right now. Yes, there is some similarity with Alexie's Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, but right now, I would definitely go ahead and share Tam Holland's book over his.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rich in Color

    There was plenty to laugh at here. Vee gets himself into complicated and humorous situations over and over again. He makes choices that are cringe-worthy throughout the book. This, of course, is part of the charm. The reader is compelled to find out if Vee is truly going to go through with his next idea. Then, there is the wait for the train wreck that is sure to happen. The book is fairly lighthearted and entertaining most of the time. Vee is trying to figure out who he is and what he wants for There was plenty to laugh at here. Vee gets himself into complicated and humorous situations over and over again. He makes choices that are cringe-worthy throughout the book. This, of course, is part of the charm. The reader is compelled to find out if Vee is truly going to go through with his next idea. Then, there is the wait for the train wreck that is sure to happen. The book is fairly lighthearted and entertaining most of the time. Vee is trying to figure out who he is and what he wants for himself so it isn’t only about the laughs. I was uncomfortable with some of the terms that Vee used like retarded and lesbos, but these are certainly words that are tossed about in high schools and they fit the context. They were just a little jarring for me. I also found the speech patterns for Vee’s father a little stilted. He often sounds formal and maybe the purpose was to show that English wasn’t his first language or to emphasize how closed off he is to Vee, but it seemed awkward to me. You will find humor, a bit of romance around the edges, basketball action, and plenty of high school and family drama in The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong. If humorous contemporary books are your thing, get it soon. L. Tam Holland did a reading of her book last week if you want a sneak peek visit the original post at Rich in Color to watch the video. Review originally posted at Rich in Color blog http://richincolor.com/2013/07/mini-r...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Hallie

    Kirkus starred review, and it sounds great. Kirkus starred review, and it sounds great.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Julie Day

    Could this character be any less likable?

  8. 5 out of 5

    Monique

    Starting out my New Year with this sassy mature YA read that I was so curious about I decided to rock with it for about three hundred plus pages which is a lot considering there is no real plot—no real action and just the snarky and entertaining life of high school sophomore half Chinese and American kid named Vee Crawford-Wong. His difficulties with his peers, his teachers, his hormones and his family’s tightlipped secrecy on both sides of his family is driving him crazy.and when you add to tha Starting out my New Year with this sassy mature YA read that I was so curious about I decided to rock with it for about three hundred plus pages which is a lot considering there is no real plot—no real action and just the snarky and entertaining life of high school sophomore half Chinese and American kid named Vee Crawford-Wong. His difficulties with his peers, his teachers, his hormones and his family’s tightlipped secrecy on both sides of his family is driving him crazy.and when you add to that an assignment from a teacher he simultaneously loathes and respects where he is tasked with finding out his family tree and this book is just that.. They were simply Mom and Dad, and I was their weird mediocre son, and there were endless things we couldn’t and didn’t talk about. (pg 8) I found his relationship with his parents unfortunate but relatable as the three just don’t talk about their real feelings, emotions and put on the farce of a happy family all the time..the racial connotations of the meek and subservient Asian are reinforced as his father hides his past behind silence and there are some great passages on the power of silence: I met his eyes and said nothing. My silence made him back off. A little power play going Vee’s way. I turned my face into a cold, expressionless mask. Silence had power. No wonder my parents buried their past in it. (pg. 48) It’s about stupid, condescending teachers. It’s about this girl I am obsessed with. It’s about my soft belly and my unsoft penis. It’s about cliques, and sports, and PE and stupidity, and my name, and my grandparents and your silence, and you will never, ever understand what I mean. (pg. 50) Ultimately the book follows Vee as he gets desperate to meet his grandparents and sends them a letter though his father tells him he is considered dead to them..Vee makes and breaks relationships and becomes the girls basketball team manager all the while no response on his letter to his grandparents—which leads to the most climactic action in the book and the most cruel and selfish..Vee decides to fabricate a letter from his grandparents and force a trip and a reunion with this side of the family that hasn’t spoken to his father in forty years..I disagreed so much with this act yo but for the sake of the story I had to accept this brash bold intrusion on his parent’s personal lives..The phony letter is taken as truth and a trip is planned to China, and when they get there it ends disastrously.. “Does seeing this do us any good Vee? This family is not some ancient buried treasure. Their lives are their lives. Not an explanation of who you are. Who I am” (pg. 320) So did I get anything from this book, did I enjoy it—umm hard to say it was a little more than I was looking for—its high school mature for sure and I work in elementary/middle school so first off I think this was so not for my intended audience..it is unflinchingly sarcastic and blunt (just like a teenager’s unfiltered mind) and deals with pedophile accusations, lots of sexual undertones and innuendo and even a graphic sex scene…there is profanity, drinking and scenes and language I don't know how comfortable I was with (like women basketball players being characterized as either princesses or lesbos- I know rough teenage boy stuff) and lots of exploring who you are as a person..definitely eighteen and up for me to recommend to but I had some interesting time spent with the weird Wong-Crawford family and in the mind of teenage hormone driven selfish Vee..What will be next..ah a new year for reading—hello 2018!

  9. 5 out of 5

    S.j. Thompson

    I picked this book up second hand because of the cover and the book jacket blurb. It sounded like an interesting account as told from the viewpoint of a fifteen year old boy. Vee Crawford-Wong is a part Texan, part Chinese teenager who is having a lot of angst about not knowing who he is or where he comes from. Apart from his parents, he has no relatives or family history to draw from. His mother is a surgical nurse from Texas who has no relationship with her family for reasons unknown to Vee. V I picked this book up second hand because of the cover and the book jacket blurb. It sounded like an interesting account as told from the viewpoint of a fifteen year old boy. Vee Crawford-Wong is a part Texan, part Chinese teenager who is having a lot of angst about not knowing who he is or where he comes from. Apart from his parents, he has no relatives or family history to draw from. His mother is a surgical nurse from Texas who has no relationship with her family for reasons unknown to Vee. Vee's father is an Ophthalmologist originally from China who also has no relationship with any relatives. The story is told from Vee's point of view and seems to be an accurate account of the feelings, thoughts and actions of a teen aged boy. The story arc is fairly uneventful but some parts are humorous. Vee's experiences trying to understand the people around him, and by extension his own place in the world, evolves slowly through some interesting happenings. He and his friend Madison forge a letter from Vee's estranged grandparents in China. This leads to a family trip, plus Madison, to China. The deception weighs heavily on Vee, but he can't bring himself to fess up. The end doesn't bring about the kind of closure Vee hoped for, but things could have been worse. Writing style is fine, story arc a bit lackluster, and I give this one 3/5 stars.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bostonlotus

    This book meant well. I believe that. However, it failed. It failed spectacularly. Granted, I appreciated details of Chinese culture and the confrontation of bigotry in America related to the Chinese and others. Yet, ignorance is still ignorance, and offending everybody doesn't address the problem appropriately. This narrator wasn't just unreliable, he was a total jerk, who never really had to answer for his sins. The trip to meet his family was much too short (a red herring, if you will), and t This book meant well. I believe that. However, it failed. It failed spectacularly. Granted, I appreciated details of Chinese culture and the confrontation of bigotry in America related to the Chinese and others. Yet, ignorance is still ignorance, and offending everybody doesn't address the problem appropriately. This narrator wasn't just unreliable, he was a total jerk, who never really had to answer for his sins. The trip to meet his family was much too short (a red herring, if you will), and the reader is stuck meandering through his daily twisted thoughts on being an American biracial teenager. Yes, Holland flirted with a nice concept for a story, and that concept had quite a lot of potential, but she may not have been the best writer to present that to us.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I thought this would be super relatable - biracial kid feels disconnected from his roots on both sides, hello - but the protagonist spends the first three quarters of the book being the most judgmental asshole of all time, and his sudden decision to cut all (most) of that out felt unprompted and unearned. The book was far more tolerable, even a bit enjoyable, once they finally get to China, but by then, too little too late. Also, can we knock it off with the "Oriental kitsch" cover designs? Thank I thought this would be super relatable - biracial kid feels disconnected from his roots on both sides, hello - but the protagonist spends the first three quarters of the book being the most judgmental asshole of all time, and his sudden decision to cut all (most) of that out felt unprompted and unearned. The book was far more tolerable, even a bit enjoyable, once they finally get to China, but by then, too little too late. Also, can we knock it off with the "Oriental kitsch" cover designs? Thanks.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tessa

    Excellent read! The author handles the teen boy perspective expertly, and his insight can be so, so funny. Love where the book travels to, both literally and figuratively. Bravo!

  13. 4 out of 5

    David

    A coming of age novel about a boy who does not know his family history and his attempts to find out who he is.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Heather Miller

    It was a very good coming of age book Vee learns a lot about himself and other. I enjoyed his journey, and the surprise at the end.

  15. 4 out of 5

    HavenM

    This book is a pretty good comedy even though it can be offensive at times. I really like the portrayal of the small Chinese town that has decayed so much since Vee's father lived there. This book is a pretty good comedy even though it can be offensive at times. I really like the portrayal of the small Chinese town that has decayed so much since Vee's father lived there.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

    For more reviews, gifs, Cover Snark and more, visit A Reader of Fictions. Vee Crawford Wong, like many teenagers isn’t happy and doesn’t have a good conception of who he is. The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong is the story of his search for himself, his family’s past, and for a girlfriend. While I wasn’t totally captured by The Counterfeit Family Tree, I did like it and am impressed by Holland’s debut. Most impressive I think is the first person male narration. Vee definitely feels li For more reviews, gifs, Cover Snark and more, visit A Reader of Fictions. Vee Crawford Wong, like many teenagers isn’t happy and doesn’t have a good conception of who he is. The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong is the story of his search for himself, his family’s past, and for a girlfriend. While I wasn’t totally captured by The Counterfeit Family Tree, I did like it and am impressed by Holland’s debut. Most impressive I think is the first person male narration. Vee definitely feels like a real and flawed teen boy, with his various fantasies and grumpiness with his situation in life. Until I sat down to start writing this review, I actually had no idea the author was a woman, since she did the first initial thing to keep the book from being marketed to girls (it’s sad that this is necessary). I’m always really impressed when authors do first person narration of the opposite gender well, so major props. Vee is half Chinese and half Texan. He feels weird-looking and like he doesn’t fit in, especially because his family unit is so separated from everything. He doesn’t know any of his grandparents or what his parents’ lives were like before they met. As he goes through the identity crisis that is being a teenager, various school assignments and his own curiosity lead him to want to know about the vast void of his family tree. The story focuses primarily on Vee’s family. His mother is sweet and his father awkward. He, like many teens, does not appreciate them. He hates them for keeping secrets and a little bit for producing him, this odd-looking mix of a person. Most parents in YA are absent, so I loved how The Counterfeit Family Tree was essentially a journey by which he comes to understand and love his parents. That’s not something you see often in YA. Running alongside that is the school and romance drama. Vee dreams of the cool girl, Adele, and of being on the basketball team. Instead, he goes to dances with his friend Madison’s super awkward friend, something neither of them is thrilled about and doesn’t make the team. As a sort of consolation prize, he’s made manager of the girls’ basketball team. He learns a lot about what it is he truly wants during the year, by making friends and paying attention to people aside from himself. One of my favorite things was actually the way he and a bully came to a sort of grudging respect for one another. One thing did irk me about this book, however. Vee made some rather disgusting comments about the basketball team girls before he really knew them: The girls who played basketball fell into two distinct categories: princess and lesbos. The princesses were thin and smooth and gorgeous, and also bitchy. They were the ones who distracted us. The lesbos made me cower; they had wide shoulders, square jaws, solid thighs, and either flat chests or huge breasts. They didn’t cut one off to shoot arrows, like the real warriors of Lesbos, but they did mush them into tight sports bras and wide-shouldered tank tops and clothes that didn’t fit quite right. They were loud and rude, more like boys, and they squatted on the bleachers and gave one another shoulder rubs before practice. Of course, I expected that, during his work as the manager, he would come to really respect the girls on the team and see past the narrow-minded stereotypes of this scene. That didn’t really happen though. I thought it was going to with Steffie, but that turned out to be a big fat no. I am not okay with anything in that above paragraph at all. All lesbians are not the same. Holy shit. Except for that one really frustrating thing, The Counterfeit Family Tree is a good debut novel, one that is a must read for readers looking for YA set in different cultural backgrounds. I would certainly try another book by Holland.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Wisteriouswoman

    I loved it! I thought Vee was a great character. It is filled with humor and life lessons. It was surprising that a woman wrote this story because of the teen male sex fantasy angle but maybe she talks to a lot of teen boys or reads their writing. The sex scene was well handled--very realistic in the fact that his first encounter was a big disappointment and he had no idea what he was doing. That is the way it is for many young people--fantasy is better than reality especially when they are stil I loved it! I thought Vee was a great character. It is filled with humor and life lessons. It was surprising that a woman wrote this story because of the teen male sex fantasy angle but maybe she talks to a lot of teen boys or reads their writing. The sex scene was well handled--very realistic in the fact that his first encounter was a big disappointment and he had no idea what he was doing. That is the way it is for many young people--fantasy is better than reality especially when they are still trying to figure out who they are and what they want. You feel his confusion. The fact that he divided the girls basketball team into two catergories--lesbos and princesses was jarring but that is the way many teens think about people they don't know--they put them into boxes. I have my own stereo types regarding football players because I don't personally know any of them. Maybe I'd change my mind if I hung out with some of them. Several readers have said that they were offended by the fact that he assumes someone is a lesbian and gives her negative characteristics. We don't ever know for sure if she is a lesbian. We could just as easily be offended that he refers to some of the girls as princesses. So what? Teens are immature and they think things like that. Hopefully they grow up to appreciate diversity and don't put people into boxes. I just loved the fact that there are so many life lessons throughout the book that will get kids thinking about right and wrong and truth and deceit and how guilt can drag you down. His family is burdened by the past but his parents have come to grips with it. They have made their own happiness. This is a fantastic lesson right there. There is a warm feeling when you see Vee's parents through his eyes. We get to think about what makes good families and great friendships. Best of all there is a great deal of humor in the story--laugh out loud in some places.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Melinda

    I read all the way through, though it has a sex scene and is full of teen angst and dysfunctional relationships, because I wanted to get information on living in China and adjusting Chinese and American cultures. Often the best way to see a culture clearly is through the eyes of someone who has switched cultures, because they see the differences much more clearly than someone who has lived with the same (or similar) set of assumptions all his life. Unfortunately, this book is set in current Cali I read all the way through, though it has a sex scene and is full of teen angst and dysfunctional relationships, because I wanted to get information on living in China and adjusting Chinese and American cultures. Often the best way to see a culture clearly is through the eyes of someone who has switched cultures, because they see the differences much more clearly than someone who has lived with the same (or similar) set of assumptions all his life. Unfortunately, this book is set in current California; a lot of the action takes place in a public school, with lots of negative drama. The main character is a teen male, half-Chinese, half-American; he's interested in girls and sex and basketball; he's extremely insecure and whines a lot. He's very dishonest, though to his credit he recognizes it as dishonesty and feels guilty about it. He wants to do better. The people who could illuminate Chinese and American culture in useful ways are his parents, but they've been silent, almost completely, about their backgrounds, their childhoods, their parents, their homes. I have trouble imagining living with so much secrecy--not even secrecy as in Hush we don't talk about that-- but secrecy as in a near total blank as to origin and relationships and ancestry. In the course of the book you find out why his parents have not said anything, and it's not spy-worthy. Their families were dysfunctional, and they have built a better relationship with their son, this insecure git, than they ever had with their parents. He's unappreciative, largely because he has no perspective. This book is the painful process of their son growing perspective, a painful perspective that makes him grateful for what he has, and helps his father face his own fears. I only learned a very little about China that I hadn't already known, and I felt it reconfirmed that my children are never, if I can help it, going into public school.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Sps

    Many things were enjoyable about this book, but the representation of Steffie wasn't one of them. She's the only lgbtq character we get to know in the book and she turns out to be jealous, manipulative, and considered the bad example that our protagonist doesn't want to turn into--in fact, possibly the only unredeemed character. Even Vee's nemesis/rival seems like less of a jerk by the end of the book. What's that about, L. Tam Holland? Not that there can't be less-than-angelic queer characters Many things were enjoyable about this book, but the representation of Steffie wasn't one of them. She's the only lgbtq character we get to know in the book and she turns out to be jealous, manipulative, and considered the bad example that our protagonist doesn't want to turn into--in fact, possibly the only unredeemed character. Even Vee's nemesis/rival seems like less of a jerk by the end of the book. What's that about, L. Tam Holland? Not that there can't be less-than-angelic queer characters in books, but when there's really only one openly queer character, and all the hets seem to get some redemption or understanding, it feels a little weird. Plus the particular flaws and traits assigned to Steffie seem straight out of a pulp novel. Ooh those negative, manipulative, deceitful lesbians! Behind their brash and sporty facades they nurse vipers at their breasts! It's like when children's book authors make their villains have Southern accents and poor grammar: teach me something new about evil, people. It isn't accurate, and it definitely isn't interesting, to rehash the redneck=bad thing, or the gay=sly thing. I feel like though the character Vee might think such things, the author could have done more to point out what's wrong, unfair, or just kind of old and tired and boring about those representations. Which leads to my next suggestion: write a sequel! Vee could do some more growing, he and his girl could do some more smooching, and I could do some more chuckling at their sarcastic banter.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Wenlong Tian

    Since the day Vee Crawford-Wong was born, his life was involved in all different kinds of chaos. First having an alphabetical letter as his name like Vee insted of a real name, we can tell his parents didn't give that much effort on name their son. Second, not knowing any family history about his grandparents on either side because weird parents, right? Third and last, being an awkward sophomore and having a history class that requires him to write a paper about family stories while he doesn't Since the day Vee Crawford-Wong was born, his life was involved in all different kinds of chaos. First having an alphabetical letter as his name like Vee insted of a real name, we can tell his parents didn't give that much effort on name their son. Second, not knowing any family history about his grandparents on either side because weird parents, right? Third and last, being an awkward sophomore and having a history class that requires him to write a paper about family stories while he doesn't know much about his family. This book precisely described the experience of every weird and hilarious encounters Vee had with his friends, family, and enemies at school. This book has many strange parts like when Vee got in some struggle with his enemy at school and he had to ask his friend Madison about how to make the other person (Mark) sound as bad as possible, "Our plan was deceptively simple: Mark is a racist"(Holland 57). And after he told that to his father, his father came out with a weirder reaction, he laughed. In the book, the author Lindsay Tam Holland perfectly illustrated the awkward life Vee with plentiful details and quite weird and funny descriptions. In my opinion, the book is perfect, I love how Vee's reaction always make me vurst out laughing and there is a twist, in the end, he went visit his grandparents in China with some tricks. In general, for people who likes comedic drama, this is the perfect book because unlike other book in the same genre, you can always relate to everything in the book because this book is great.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Ramirez

    I wanted to like this book more than I actually did, which is a little sad. (I feel like that's been happening a lot lately: but it could be that I feel a little misled by the synopses of the books I've read lately. Not that there's anything bad about surprises, but if the synopsis promises me a road trip across America, I expect that road trip right off the bat, not 8 chapters in. But I digress- that's a different book I'm talking about ( yes I'm looking at you "Kissing in America"! You're good I wanted to like this book more than I actually did, which is a little sad. (I feel like that's been happening a lot lately: but it could be that I feel a little misled by the synopses of the books I've read lately. Not that there's anything bad about surprises, but if the synopsis promises me a road trip across America, I expect that road trip right off the bat, not 8 chapters in. But I digress- that's a different book I'm talking about ( yes I'm looking at you "Kissing in America"! You're good, but not the kind of good I was expecting) Anyway. So, this book. Sorry, Vee; but I can't get behind you if you constantly use taboo words. I know our world is extra-PC these days, but I counted the times he uses the word "retard" and it was just too many for my liking. Also, I'm not super conscious about swear words or profanity (in the literary world, that is) but I especially hate the expression "sh**-eating grin" and I hate it even more so now, after reading this book. One star for the neat title, but ultimately this is a 2.5 as far as the story goes. I mean come on, Vee is a 16 year old kid, and we're just s'posed to assume he has no idea at all about sex, or how to Do Things With A Girl? (Sorry this is a little TMI/spoilery) Yeah, sorry...I just don't believe that. Sure he's not the most charming guy around, but 90% of all teen guys would jump at the chance to Do Things With A Girl, I'm almost positive.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jim Sorensen

    This is the best book I have read in a long time. Not just as a young adult book, but as any kind of book. The first chapter was so hilarious I could hardly put it down. And even as it moves on to more serious content it remains a fun and enjoyable read. It is one of those rare books that I found myself reading more and more slowly as I got closer to the end because I didn’t want the story to be over. Although it is a teen book adult characters are an integral part of the story and are portrayed This is the best book I have read in a long time. Not just as a young adult book, but as any kind of book. The first chapter was so hilarious I could hardly put it down. And even as it moves on to more serious content it remains a fun and enjoyable read. It is one of those rare books that I found myself reading more and more slowly as I got closer to the end because I didn’t want the story to be over. Although it is a teen book adult characters are an integral part of the story and are portrayed very realistically and believably, rather than appearing as mere caricatures. The teenagers are also portrayed realistically. There are no good guys or bad guys, just people finding their way among all the difficult choices to be made in daily life. Humor is used as a necessary ingredient for getting through all the messes we find ourselves in from time to time. I found myself laughing often and stopping to re-read sentences and even whole sections that serve as a reminder of this. But I also found myself moved to tears because I felt what the characters were feeling and could understand the hope and sorrow that is also a part of life and the complicated relationships between parents and children.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Vee Crawford-Wong's family, as he sees it, consists of him, his mother, and his father - that's it. All he knows about his mother's past is that she grew up in Texas; all he knows of his father's is that he grew up in China. And neither of them seem to want to talk about their pasts. So when his history teacher gives an assignment to write about his family history, what choice does he have but to lie? Add to that some conflicts with jock Mark White and Vee's desire to be on the basketball team, Vee Crawford-Wong's family, as he sees it, consists of him, his mother, and his father - that's it. All he knows about his mother's past is that she grew up in Texas; all he knows of his father's is that he grew up in China. And neither of them seem to want to talk about their pasts. So when his history teacher gives an assignment to write about his family history, what choice does he have but to lie? Add to that some conflicts with jock Mark White and Vee's desire to be on the basketball team, and you have a recipe for a turbulent year of high school. This is one of those "why in the world did they put THAT in the inside flap?!" books - there is a very late plot point spoiled on the inside flap synopsis that kind of ruined the pacing of the book for me. I kept waiting for it to come up, and it killed a lot of the suspense. Had the description of the book not spoiled that plot point, this would easily be a four-star book. Holland writes Vee authentically, tapping into the teenage male psyche as well as the difficulties of growing up biracial without a knowledge of your family history.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ayumu

    The Absolutely Fake Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong I liked the book but Vee was a bit annoying to read but he is a teen boy. Vee is actually fairly realistic and reminded me of boys that I go to school with. He also reminded me of a more annoying Junior from Sherman Alexi's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Tam's book has a lot in common with Alexi's book. Teen boy trying to find cultural identity, main character gets in fight with bully, sarcasm, teen boy stuff(masturbation), bo The Absolutely Fake Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong I liked the book but Vee was a bit annoying to read but he is a teen boy. Vee is actually fairly realistic and reminded me of boys that I go to school with. He also reminded me of a more annoying Junior from Sherman Alexi's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Tam's book has a lot in common with Alexi's book. Teen boy trying to find cultural identity, main character gets in fight with bully, sarcasm, teen boy stuff(masturbation), boy messes around with popular white girl, oh oh and basketball. I actually met the author and she said that Absolutely True dairy is a favorite of hers so I wouldn't be surprised if she drew inspiration from it. Should you read this book? If your a teen looking for an asian american coming of age story you might want to give it a try. These books are very niche so I'm always happy when one comes along since I'm asian american. I think I liked Nothing But the Truth(and a few white lies) more. Looking forward to your next book Tam. :)

  25. 5 out of 5

    Irene

    The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong is, hands down, the best Young Adult novel I have ever read. It possess all the common qualities of a Young Adult novel – teen angst, personal discovery, painfully accurate descriptions of teenage sexual encounters – however, Holland delivers a story that is playful, poignant, and delicately incisive. The character of Vee Crawford-Wong has characteristics which almost any young person could relate to. He does not know who he is, but has a vague id The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong is, hands down, the best Young Adult novel I have ever read. It possess all the common qualities of a Young Adult novel – teen angst, personal discovery, painfully accurate descriptions of teenage sexual encounters – however, Holland delivers a story that is playful, poignant, and delicately incisive. The character of Vee Crawford-Wong has characteristics which almost any young person could relate to. He does not know who he is, but has a vague idea of who he wants to be. He does not understand his family, but desperately wants to have something more than the small familial unit he’s known all this life. He wants to have roots, and he wants to belong. Vee is “mixed,” being half Chinese and half white, which accentuates his insecurity about “not fitting in,” but also makes him an infinitely more accessible character for many readers. Not to mention, this book is a scream. So. Funny. I cannot wait to see what Holland writes next!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    This was part of a YA display in a bookstore in Berkeley, and I was interested because the protagonist is a hapa (a part-Asian racial mix), and the plot revolves around him finding out why his parents never speak of their families. It sounded like an interesting examination of racial identity and culture since Vee is a Chinese/Caucasian 10th grader trying to navigate high school social mores. However, I couldn’t finish it – Vee is stupidly self-destructive and self-centered, and after several cr This was part of a YA display in a bookstore in Berkeley, and I was interested because the protagonist is a hapa (a part-Asian racial mix), and the plot revolves around him finding out why his parents never speak of their families. It sounded like an interesting examination of racial identity and culture since Vee is a Chinese/Caucasian 10th grader trying to navigate high school social mores. However, I couldn’t finish it – Vee is stupidly self-destructive and self-centered, and after several cringe-worthy episodes, I wasn’t curious enough to know about his parents’ estrangements with their parents to keep reading.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Corinne

    The protagonist of this novel reminded me of Oscar Wao in Junot Diaz's (brilliant) A Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. There's a pathetic, sullen, coming of age discomfort in both characters which can strike a chord with just about any reader. Vee is an authentic character and I felt for him throughout the novel and was cheering when he capitalized on the opportunities for growth the novel brought him. This is quite the impressive debut from L. Tam Holland. The protagonist of this novel reminded me of Oscar Wao in Junot Diaz's (brilliant) A Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. There's a pathetic, sullen, coming of age discomfort in both characters which can strike a chord with just about any reader. Vee is an authentic character and I felt for him throughout the novel and was cheering when he capitalized on the opportunities for growth the novel brought him. This is quite the impressive debut from L. Tam Holland.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sonja

    Nice enough, funny enough story of a boy straddling two cultures (half-Chinese, half-Texan) and yet detached from both as his parents are estranged from their families. Driven by school assignments to draw a family tree and write about his family's history, he gets crazy and makes up a bunch of stuff. This somewhat implausibly leads him to convince his father to take him to China. It's not as funny as the title makes it sound, but it is a blend of amusing and sometimes sweet. Nice enough, funny enough story of a boy straddling two cultures (half-Chinese, half-Texan) and yet detached from both as his parents are estranged from their families. Driven by school assignments to draw a family tree and write about his family's history, he gets crazy and makes up a bunch of stuff. This somewhat implausibly leads him to convince his father to take him to China. It's not as funny as the title makes it sound, but it is a blend of amusing and sometimes sweet.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Katelyn

    It started off slow, but as it reached the middle, the purpose and heart began appearing in the writing. After I completed the novel, I realized the pace picked up as Vee, the main character, found himself and learned that life didn't revolve around his high school problems. It was a fantastic insight into a young teenager's life and the difficulties of growing up as a boy in lust. One thing is for sure...I don't envy guys :) I can't wait to see what this author comes up with next! It started off slow, but as it reached the middle, the purpose and heart began appearing in the writing. After I completed the novel, I realized the pace picked up as Vee, the main character, found himself and learned that life didn't revolve around his high school problems. It was a fantastic insight into a young teenager's life and the difficulties of growing up as a boy in lust. One thing is for sure...I don't envy guys :) I can't wait to see what this author comes up with next!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Luca H.

    More of a 3.5 stars. "The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong" is a very young-adult book about teenager Vee and his quest to discover his family history for a history paper. While I felt that the book was written nicely, it was also written at quite a low level, so I would more recommend it for a younger audience (or for someone who just wants to have a book to fly through). However, I thought the book did a very good job of portraying social issues to said younger audience. More of a 3.5 stars. "The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong" is a very young-adult book about teenager Vee and his quest to discover his family history for a history paper. While I felt that the book was written nicely, it was also written at quite a low level, so I would more recommend it for a younger audience (or for someone who just wants to have a book to fly through). However, I thought the book did a very good job of portraying social issues to said younger audience.

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