Parachutes | Kelly Yang | Book Review

Parachutes by Kelly Yang is a book that will stay with me for a long time. This is such a hard-hitting young adult book. It covers so many current societal and cultural issues: rape culture, cultural differences, sexual harassment, wealth, privilege, racism, classism, friendship, prejudice, homophobia, familial dynamics, parental expectations, beauty standards, sex, toxic relationships, and academic pressure. I really didn’t expect it to have so much from the premise but I’m really glad I gave it a chance.

Claire and Dani are both smart girls but are total opposites at the beginning of Parachutes. Claire is a wealthy teenager girl from China who is sent by her parents to live with an American family and attend an American high school. Dani is the Filipino daughter of a single mother who works full time as a housekeeper to make ends meet. When Claire moves in with Dani and her mother, there is a notable dynamic difference between them. Dani does not like the fact that her mother has taken in this “parachute” girl in order to have extra income. She has worked too hard for too long to let something like this ruin her focus and mess up her future. Meanwhile, Claire is struggling to maintain the role which her parents want to her have while finding herself a new sense of freedom that she did not have in China. The combination of these two personalities creates quite the powder keg of events to come.

I really enjoyed the contrast of Claire and Dani. Dani sees Claire as a wealthy opportunist while Claire can’t help but start to look down on Dani thinking that she can’t possibly understand due to her limited income and resources. Both girls say and do things that are not very favorable but when all the chips are down, it is wonderful to see how these girls are able to really come together. Both of these characters felt very fleshed out to me with their personalities and the things that they experience both individually and collectively.

As I said, Parachutes covers multiple different cultural and societal issues each of which got my blood humming as a reader. I don’t want to say too much because I feel like a new reader deserves the same element of surprise that I had. The way that Kelly Yang writes this story is simplistic and beautiful but man does it pack a punch! She really is able to provide a voice to characters who are sometimes seen are voiceless within our society and for that I truly feel like she should be commended. Within all of the heavy themes, there is substantial character growth and progression for both Claire and Dani which by the end had me wanting to stand up and strongly applaud for them both.

Rating: 4 Stars

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