Book Review: 'Parachutes' by Kelly Yang
Parachutes. Teens who were picked up from their lives in Asia and dropped into the USA to study. Claire didn’t think it’d happen to her, but there she was in a stranger’s California home. Unfortunately, Dani is Claire’s host sister and is not thrilled about the new competition living at her house. With dreams of going to Yale, Dani has been working hard to earn a full scholarship and lessen the financial burden of college on her single mom. Claire and Dani must navigate living in the same house and attending high school all while handling life-altering experiences.
This was a monster of a young adult book in both length (almost 500 pages) and content. Dani and Claire attend an elite school that shows similarities to "Gossip Girl" life. As the story progressed, I grew wary of characters and, unfortunately, my gut feelings were right. Unbeknownst to them, Dani and Claire grappled with similar challenges, but thought they were too different to really connect.
I had hoped their friendship would have developed more in the book, but I also appreciated that they needed to find their individual strengths before coming together. While a sequel seems unlikely, it would be interesting to explore more of Dani and Claire’s new friendship and how they connect despite being from very different backgrounds.
This featured Asian characters, and their lives reflected their cultures, but it didn’t feel “educational” or “overdone.” As an Asian reader, I appreciated that normalcy. It was an enthralling plot that featured POC. The plot was not enthralling because it featured POC.
Overall, this was a stunning and visceral YA debut by Kelly Yang, and I definitely recommend it.
Content Warning: Sexual harassment and rape