Finally Seen

Finally Seen

By Author / Illustrator

Kelly Yang


Family & Home

Age range(s)



Knights Of Media




Paperback / softback




From the bestselling author of the Waterstones Prize shortlisted Front Desk series.   A gripping middle-grade novel about Lina, who leaves China to live with her parents and sister in the US, after five years apart. She's been waiting for this moment but it's not exactly like the postcards...

As Lina reckons with the big change and feeling left out, she learns about family, friendship, and the power of belonging. And when her teacher starts facing challenges for her latest book selection, a book that deeply resonates with Lina, it will take all of Lina's courage and resilience to get over her fear in order to choose a future where she's finally seen.

See also:  Front Desk (book 1)Three Keys (book 2);   Room to Dream (book 3)



Lina’s family went to America five years ago, but she stayed behind with her grandmother - until now! At last she’s going to join them! When she arrives, life in America is quite different from the way she imagined it (from watching The Simpsons and from her mother’s letters). At school, it’s hard to fit in and mispronouncing words in English is humiliating. Home is problematic, too. Her dad works all the time on a farm and her mum has started running a bath bomb factory from their tiny flat. Both her parents worry (and quarrel) constantly about money and the best way to get a green card. Only her little sister seems to know how to find the way to her parents' hearts.  Meanwhile, Lina herself misses her grandmother desperately and is overwhelmed with guilt that Lao Lao now lives unhappily in an old people's home.

The story follows Lina as she wrestles with reality, locking away her voice and her feelings. In bewilderment, she learns America is a country where 'blue isn't always a colour and where Mama says we don't have the same options as everyone else'. With books as her friends, she gradually rediscovers her relationship with her parents, her confidence and her voice, until she is finally - seen.

Kelly Yang describes the vulnerability of immigrants with deftness and empathy. Working from a child's perspective allows her to deconstruct the emotional aspects: the hurt, the hope and the tiny triumphs. Lina is a strong and appealing protagonist and the story is by turns poignant, funny and empowering. It hooked me in from the start and I finished it in a couple of sittings.

I can't think of a more powerful way of building understanding in our communities between the newly arrived and the long established, nor a more appropriate stimulus for discussion of racism. The more we share compelling stories like this with our classes, the better. Please do spread the word.

416 pages / Reviewed by Louisa Farrow, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 9+


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