May-Lee Chai

A Gemma Open Door book


When you are eleven years old, is there anything more humiliating, or bound to cause a fight, than shopping with your mother when your body is in full-throttle warp? Yes, there is: picking out the school-required underwear. And worse: your mother’s male co-worker shows up at the scene. And even worse: your brother wants to TALK about it at the dinner table.

Rites of passage are difficult for any young girl, and Jun-li Lin is no exception. The grown-ups in her life are completely unpredictable and probably out of control. She knows it will take detective work to figure out her family’s secrets and the reasons for their erratic actions. It’s up to her to find a way to bring the family together before everyone drifts apart.

Training to be an adult, Jun-li discovers, is hard work.

“I re-discovered a bit of myself in Jun-li, and in May-lee Chai’s beautifully constructed and perfectly contained world. Jun-li’s struggles are nothing out of the ordinary, but it’s the deftly and subtly rendered intricacies that mark this story, link it to the experience of Asians in America, and linger in the imagination.”
 — Julie Shigekuni, author of A Bridge Between Us, In Plain View, and Invisible Gardens

May-lee Chai is the author of eight books, including the memoir Hapa Girl, a Kiriyama Prize Notable Book; the novel Dragon Chica; and the novel Tiger Girl, which won an Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. Most recently, Chai received the 2017 Doris Bakwin Award for writing by women, presented by Carolina Wren Press of Durham. She teaches creative writing and literary translation at San Francisco State University.

Training Days
May-lee Chai
Paper, 100 pages
Reading level: 740L