Study Guide

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson Genre

By Bette Bao Lord

Genre

Historical Fiction; Coming-of-Age

Shirley Temple Wong might not have been real (sad face), but the circumstances surrounding her life and the environment in which she lives definitely were. And this means we're in historical fiction territory, blending made-up stuff with real details from the past.

See, in the early- to mid- 20th century, many Chinese people immigrated to America and settled in Brooklyn. Their kids must have faced difficulty fitting in at school and adjusting to a new life, just like Shirley does. So Shirley is representative of the younger immigrants coming to the U.S. at this time.

Most of the time, coming of age books witness a character arriving at adulthood by the end, which Shirley most definitely does not. Still, though, she works so hard to figure things out for herself in this book, and to carve her own path between cultures, that we feel pretty good about saying her story falls into the coming of age genre. She's thrown into an intensely difficult situation, after all, and though her parents and various other adults try to help her, ultimately Shirley finds her own way forward.

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