Parachutes examines two girls, Dani and Claire, who have grown up in completely different worlds, but who are fierce, passionate, and strong. It is a story of their lives, their struggles, and their character growth. Keep reading my book review of Parachutes to see all my thoughts on this complex and poignant book.
They’re called parachutes: teenagers dropped off to live in private homes and study in the US while their wealthy parents remain in Asia. Claire Wang never thought she’d be one of them, until her parents pluck her from her privileged life in Shanghai and enroll her at a high school in California. Suddenly she finds herself living in a stranger’s house, with no one to tell her what to do for the first time in her life. She soon embraces her newfound freedom, especially when the hottest and most eligible parachute, Jay, asks her out.
Dani De La Cruz, Claire’s new host sister, couldn’t be less thrilled that her mom rented out a room to Claire. An academic and debate-team star, Dani is determined to earn her way into Yale, even if it means competing with privileged kids who are buying their way to the top. When her debate coach starts working with her privately, Dani’s game plan veers unexpectedly off course.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: Sexual harassent, rape, racism
Parachutes is a book about opposite worlds. Two girls who are so alike, but couldn’t have grown up more different, struggling with trying to figure out who they are, their family situation, and love. They are asked how much they are willing to pay for freedom. For the life that they want. It’s a book that tackles issues of racism, sexual assault, speaking up, and a culture that tries to silence girls. All while being inextricably linked with privilege, money, and corruption.
Yang allows both Claire, a rich parachute from Shanghai, and Dani, a poor Fillipino girl struggling with her future, to be complex, flawed, and human. While Parachutes has plenty of action, it is propelled by its characters. Whether that be Claire’s struggle with her family pressure, Dani’s confrontation with corruption, or even Ming, a lesbian scholarship student from China. Parachutes is complex, tackling issues of racism and the dangers that these girls face on all avenues.
While I am not an ownvoices reader for these identities, I could deeply identify with Dani’s principles when confronted with corruption, as well as the challenges Claire faces from both her fellow Asians in the US and the non-POC characters – not being accepted by either. Parachutes is an emotionally complex book and Yang never backs down. It delivers emotion ranging from heart warming to heart breaking and sometimes all within one scene.
It’s hard to discuss Parachutes without going into all the little moments. The intricacies of the lives these parachute teens are going through by balancing their thirst for freedom, knowing they will return back to their family and more confined roles. Or even the secrets that each of these characters are hiding. Parachutes manages to highlight both the characters and the tension within the book with Claire’s struggle with family and relationships as well as Dani’s fears for her future as well as her principles when speaking out.