Girlhood Adventures in a Brave New World

Escaping wars, floods, and poverty, thousands of Chinese immigrants sailed from Hong Kong to San Francisco in the 1850s. They came searching for gold and, later, to work on the building of the transcontinental railroad. Generally, women and children remained in China, waiting for their men to return from Gam Saan (Gold Mountain, the Chinese name for California) with the hoped-for riches found or earned by hard work. Lixia of Gold Mountain tells the story of a young girl who did not wait at home, but instead traveled to America to join her father and uncles.

When Lixia’s father decided to stay in California, he sent for his wife and daughter. Now, after an arduous journey Lixia, disguised as a boy because it is too dangerous for a young girl to travel unescorted by a man, and her mother arrive in a small town near Stockton to begin life in their new home in a new land with different customs, people, and language. Lixia continues to hide the fact that she is a girl and makes her way among the rough-and-tumble boys in town. By the end of the story Lixia, now able to drop her disguise, is maintaining a new garden and looking forward to sharing the fruit and vegetables with her new friends and selling them at her uncle’s store.

“As a teacher and California resident, I became interested in the rich history of California and the state’s innovative ‘living history’ curriculum,” says author Clara Stites. “Because of this interest, I wanted to write historically accurate stories featuring girls from various ethnic backgrounds—the many groups that came to California in the nineteenth century and contributed so much to the culture of the state.” Lixia of Gold Mountain is the third in Stites’s series of well-researched, affectionately-written stories for middle-grade-level readers. The book is charmingly illustrated with drawings by noted Massachusetts artist Penny

Clara Stites taught school for more than twelve years and edited several adult non-fiction books, including In the Shadow of the Giant: Thomas Wolfe (Ohio University Press, 1988). Her stories have appeared in numerous periodicals, including New York Stories, The Long Story, The MacGuffin, and Potpourri. She is the author of Katya of Fort Ross (Fithian Press, 2001), Rosalba of Santa Juanita (Fithian Press, 2002), and Naming the Stones (Spinner Publications 2002). She lives with her family in Dartmouth, Massachusetts.

Lixia of Gold Mountain
A California Story
by Clara Stites

ISBN 1-56474-421-3
80 pages, paperback, $8.95

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