Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Boxers

Boxers  by Gene Luen Yang

Written by the author of the amazing American Born Chinese.  This is the first of two books covering the two sides of the Boxer Rebellion in China.  The first book, Boxers tells the story of the native Chinese who faced the invading hordes of Christians taking over their country.

Bao lives in a small village. He loves the life among his people, including the festivals and operas. That is, until strangers start coming through town. The white missionaries, telling the villagers that they were living wrong and the newly converted Chinese Christians, who weren't all exactly overflowing with kindness. They looted and stole, leaving destruction in their path.

A man comes into town and convinces the interlopers to leave.  Then he stays and teaches the village males kung-fu.  Bao's older brothers don't believe that he is old enough to join in.  But, Bao gets private lessons and when his brothers and the men all leave to protect the surrounding villages, Bao seeks out a Kung Fu master who teaches him how to call on the spirits of ancient Chinese warriors.

Bao follows the young men and teaches them what he's learned and together they amass an army and make their way to fight off the invaders.  

This is a very one sided story, and handled beautifully.  In this part of the tale, Yang describes what it was like for the natives of the area to have the missionaries come in and tell people that their way of life is wrong.  It showcases the corruption and violence that came to China with Christianity.  I think, sometimes, it's very important to show just one side of an issue at a time.  

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