Study Guide

Dragonwings Tough-o-Meter

By Laurence Yep


(2) Sea Level

Though the unknowing reader might take one look at this young adult novel and assume it is easy, we at Shmoop think it's a bit tougher than it looks. The language and style are not too difficult when compared with other books on Shmoop, but where Dragonwings is extra chewy is in its content matter. Most people do not know much about the details and hardships of Chinese immigration to America at the turn of the century. Yep challenges the reader to care about the historical significance of events within this novel, from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906. The good news is that an imagined experience of living through these events is looked at through the wide eyes and first-person narration of young Moon Shadow, who lets us into his thoughts in an everyday kind of way that eases us into the weightier issues of xenophobia, or the fear of anything different or foreign, that loom in the book.