Kelly Yang has penned a novel that tells its story from two very different perspectives, overlapping in several striking ways that are slowly revealed to the reader.
Parachutes looks at struggles with class, sexuality, attitudes of the East versus the West, familial expectations, racism, sexual assault, navigating relationships and more; all against the backdrop of a Californian high school that, in addition to having many scholarship and local students, caters to the children of Asian social elite, the so-called titular parachute students.
With so much rhetoric in our day-to-day conversations surrounding the Me Too movement and violence against people of colour, especially those of Asian descent, Parachutes is an important read that doesn’t hold back. The two central narrators are both extremely aware of how the world sees them, the expectations attached with being Asian and female, and the ways they wish to present themselves to the world. Even though the story seems to follow familiar tropes found in central fairy tales, Yang allows for a more nuanced look at the central protagonists and the supporting cast who exist in the same social system that they must wade through. Culminating in acts of strength, bravery and difficult decisions, this is a story of international sisterhood that will resonate with anyone who has found allies in the most unlikely of places. A powerful read that looks at the realities of being a young woman in modern society.