Dream Annie, Dream

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Modern Age

Dream Annie, Dream
Author: Brown, Waka T.
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Time Period: Modern Age
Time Frame: 1987-1988
Geographic Area: North America
Country: United States
Topics: Immigration, American Dream
Genre: Fiction
Reading Age: Middle Grade, Upper Middle Grade
Format: Chapter Book
Published: 2022

American History > Modern Age > 1980s

In this empowering deconstruction of the so-called American Dream, a twelve-year-old Japanese American girl grapples with, and ultimately rises above, the racism and trials of middle school she experiences while chasing her dreams.

As the daughter of immigrants who came to America for a better life, Annie Inoue was raised to dream big. And at the start of seventh grade, she’s channeling that irrepressible hope into becoming the lead in her school play.

So when Annie lands an impressive role in the production of The King and I, she’s thrilled... until she starts to hear grumbles from her mostly white classmates that she only got the part because it’s an Asian play with Asian characters. Is this all people see when they see her? Is this the only kind of success they’ll let her have—one that they can tear down or use race to belittle?

Disheartened but determined, Annie channels her hurt into a new dream: showing everyone what she’s made of.

Waka T. Brown, author of While I Was Away, delivers an uplifting coming-of-age story about a Japanese American girl’s fight to make space for herself in a world that claims to celebrate everyone’s differences but doesn’t always follow through.

Emily's Review

This book seals the deal for me, Waka T. Brown is now officially a new favorite author. I loved her previous book, While I Was Away last year and I've been looking forward to reading her newest book since it came out.

This book has everything I could want in a story - a great protagonist, dynamic characters, AND musical theater?! I read this book in two sittings because I could not put it down.

Annie Inoue was a middle schooler in 1987. Actually, her name is Aoi, but because no one can pronounce it, she's chosen to call herself Annie instead. Her parents are immigrants from Japan who came to America in search of better opportunities. Her father believes wholeheartedly in the American Dream. And Annie has big dreams of being on the stage as well as playing for the NBA, even though she's barely 5 feet tall. But the year she starts middle school she's suddenly aware of all the obstacles in the way of her dreams.

At its core, this is a story about microaggressions. She's used to people making rude comments but when someone spreads a rumor that she only got cast in The King and I because she's Asian, she begins to wonder if dreaming is even worth it. I loved watching her grow more and more determined to reach her goals, even when everyone else thinks she can't.

Annie is a fantastic main character, I loved seeing her grow from dreamy to strong and determined. But honestly, all of the characters were dynamic and interesting. I especially loved her parents. Her father is a dreamer like Annie, but her mother doesn't understand all that dreaming at first. I loved her arc so much because it goes to show that you are never too old to pursue a dream! Brown's writing is so addicting - her books are un-put-downable. I laughed and even teared up at times reading this story.

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