Fighting To Belong, Volume One: Review

Historian Stephanie Cyphers reflects on the first volume of the new graphic novel trilogy, Fighting To Belong.
All photos courtesy of the publisher.
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Fighting To Belong, Volume One: Review

I love seeing books and stories like Fighting To Belong by Amy Chu, Alexander Chang, and Louie Chin. Going to American public schools in the 1990s and early 2000s, one did not learn much about Asian American, Native Hawiian, and Pacific Islander History, and as a result it is enjoyable finally discovering these stories.

One of the best things about this graphic novel is how honest they are about this history being difficult to study. For example, one of the characters is upset to learn about the anti-Asian violence that arose and how people have got away with killing Asian immigrants. The oldest character and guide, Kenji Sato-Louis, tells the boy, “History is about truth. We can’t pick and choose only the nice parts.” 

At the beginning of the book, they identify the main characters and gave descriptions of likes and dislikes, helping students identify with at least one character and effectively getting people quickly immersed in reading alongside the colorful and eye-catching graphics.

If stories are key to educating the next generation, one my favourite elements in the work is how at the end of the book, the authors have created a curriculum guide for educators to use in their teaching lessons. Each section gives a little background and some different activities that students can do. There is also a link where the curriculum can be looked at from American grades Kindergarten to 13+, as well as additional resources that can be used. Everyone is encouraged to get involved and incorporate these stories into their studies.

The book is geared for ages eight to thirteen but adults will enjoy this too. The story is easy to follow and a quick read, good for adults to read along with their children. It is the first of a three part volume with Volume 2 to be released in September 2024 and Volume 3 to be released in January 2025. 

As a historian now looking back on my younger days, I have always loved history and for as long as I could remember, I loved historical fiction and would seek out history books to learn more about the real story. If you’re like me, Fighting To Belong will also make you want to go out and do some research. As the story ends on a cliffhanger, I cannot wait to see what happens next. 

Volume 1 of Fighting To Belong! is out now through all major retail platforms, with Volume 2 expected in September 2024 and Volume 3 expected in January 2025.
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