HarperCollins / Quill Tree (June 2022)

My parents believe there’s something
better for us in the beautiful country.
I believe it too.

Anna is counting the days until her family finally moves to America—the beautiful country. Even though Anna knows she’ll miss her relatives and friends in Taiwan, she’s excited for her new life in California.

But the beautiful country is nothing like what she imagined. The family’s one-bedroom apartment is much smaller than their old house. Anna’s hopes for friendship are thwarted when she’s taunted for the food she brings to school. The worst part is Anna’s parents sunk their entire savings into a restaurant that’s losing money. Anna had big dreams for her new life, but now she doesn’t even know if her family will make it beyond the first year.

This lyrical and moving novel in verse is about finding your way in the world and what it truly means for a place to become home.

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“In the Beautiful Country is vivid, heartbreaking, and hopeful in all the right ways.”
– Gene Luen Yang, Award-winning author of AMERICAN BORN CHINESE

“Beautifully written. A moving historical fiction book that is valuable for all readers.”
– School Library Journal (starred review)

“Deftly touches on complex issues. A powerfully candid and soulful account of an immigrant experience.”
– Kirkus Reviews

The inspiration behind the book

I remember on an overcast day in late October, we said goodbye to scores of relatives and friends in Taiwan and boarded a plane bound for Los Angeles. My parents had taken their life savings and bought a fast-food restaurant. Days later as we settled into the apartment, I realized that my world, which had been filled with weekly trips to the night market and Saturdays at the beach, was now reduced to the seven-block radius encircling the restaurant, school, and home. We came to America for a bigger, better life, and yet our world suddenly seemed so small.

For the longest time, I didn’t know what to make of my experience as an immigrant girl growing up in 1980s LA. And the prospect of sharing about my family’s journey felt too intensely personal. But whenever I sat down to write, it was the landscape of my first year in America that bubbled to the surface. This is the story that wanted to be told and eventually I complied. Because I realized: at its very core, a story is a gift from one person to another.

In the Beautiful Country is inspired by my family’s story–it’s about our hopes and dreams, our trials and heartbreak, and the unexpected friends we encountered along the way.

I wrote this book as a gift to the girl and others like her, so they might see their experience reflected on the page. But mostly, I wrote this book for anyone who has ever struggled to find their place in this vast beautiful world.

I hope you like my gift.