Cover Image: Land of Broken Promises

Land of Broken Promises

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Member Reviews

Another beautiful novel in verse from this author. I don't think I liked it quite as much as the first one, but it tackled many delicate issues well and would be really great for many middle grade students.
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<i>Thank you NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.</i>

This sequel was fine, but I liked the first one much more. It started to lose me towards the middle even though it was a relatively short book due to the verse format. I didn’t feel as connected to the writing this time, but it was still enjoyable.
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A gorgeous sequel to In the Beautiful Country that depicts the difficulties that immigrants face and the many pitfalls of the immigration system. Like many verse novels, this book is light on plot, but it perfectly encapsulates the emotional turmoil of families with lives in limbo. When Anna’s parents discover they have accidentally let their documented status expire, her mother has to leave to make money to pay a lawyer and Anna has to pick up the slack by working in the family store instead of enjoying her summer. Anna struggles to be dependable and not waste her time on “frivolous” activities (like reading!) and she struggles with the burden of this secret about her family. A beautiful story!

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley. No compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
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Land of Broken Promises is an emotionally raw middle-grade novel in verse that sheds light on the difficulties of visas (keeping and gaining access) in the United States.

Anna and her family have had a successful year - the business was thriving and Anna was making friends at school. After discovering their visas have expired, however, Anna begins to worry about what this means for her family and feels very alone with no one to talk about it with. 

I love novels in verse. This one used delicate emotion to transport readers into Anna's experiences in a concise yet powerful way.
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4.5 stars. Thank you to Net Galley and HarperCollins Children's Books for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.  This was the second book in a YA series about Anna who is living in Duarte, CA with her father and mother.  They all immigrated from Taiwan in the first book which discussed coming to a new country, finding your place and learning a new language and set of customs, all while the parents are trying to run a business that is failing and Anna making friends and comparing the beautiful country to her home land.  In this book, Anna has found her way and will be graduating from elementary school.  But then it is discovered that they missed some paperwork to renew their I-94s and now are considered undocumented.  Anna experiences the shame of this situation and how America doesn't view her as one of it's own.  The book was told in verse in very short chapters.  Much of it was very touching especially the poem she writes for an assignment to send a response to Emma Lazarus' poem on the Statue of Liberty.  Highly recommended and it is not necessary to read the first book as the author provides a summary of what happened in the first book.
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I really loved this author's first book and this one didn't disappoint. I love how descriptive the author is with her writing. I feel like I'm living in the same place as the main character. The verse makes it a good choice for some of my students who get overwhelmed by a long prose book. 

I feel deeply for Anna and her family and empathized with their struggles to realize the American Dream. 

Looking forward to this author's next work!
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I cannot stress this enough: I love this book.
Not only is this one of my favorite middle grade books of the year, it is one of my favorite middle grade books of all time.
Kuo's writing is lyrical, thought-provoking, intentional, and the perfect vehicle to deliver this powerful story inspired by her own childhood. While this is a companion book to In the Beautiful Country (and I recommend you read that first), I do think this story can also stand alone. The novel delves deeper into the relationship between Anna and her parents, as well as Anna's identity as a Chinese-Taiwanese (undocumented) immigrant in Los Angeles. I will absolutely be recommending this book to my students, adding a copy to my classroom library, and looking for opportunities to integrate it into my curriculum.

Thank you NetGalley and HarperCollins for the advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.
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I loved this sequel to In This Beautiful Country! I am so glad Jane continued telling her story. I loved watching her family continue their life in America. Also, the eighties references were a lot of fun.
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In this follow-up to In the Beautiful Country, Anna's family continues to adjust to their new home. Anna's found a friend and she enjoys school.  Her classmates all seem to have fun summer plans while she's expected to spend her summer working at her family's restaurant/store, which she is not looking forward to, although the money she will earn will be welcome. But the discovery that the visa allowing them to stay in the country has expired and they are now in the country illegally throws the whole family into upheaval. Her mother takes a job in another city hoping to earn money to hire a lawyer to help and Anna is left to wonder if dreaming about the future is even worth the effort. The free verse beautifully conveys Anna's feelings as she struggles to come to terms with her changed circumstances and her inability to confide in anyone. In addition, the free verse makes the book a quick and easy read that inspires compassion for Anna's struggles. As in the first book, the author shares a story of ups and downs, hope and despair that her characters experience. I especially enjoyed the scenes with Anna and her father as he shares with her his hopes for her and encourages her to keep dreaming despite their difficult circumstances. Based on her own experiences as a young immigrant in the 1980s, the story provides young readers with a glimpse into life as an immigrant and some of the challenges that come with it. While the ending felt a bit abrupt, I'm still hoping for additional stories about Anna as she works to achieve her dreams and develops her love for the written word.
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First of all, I loved the simple and readable format of this book. It will attract reluctant readers and draw them in and that's always a bonus (says this librarian). The story is potent enough that an adult will feel fully engaged and not want to put the book down until the end. And younger readers will be able to identify with the characters and it will be an eye opener for them on the kinds of issues their classmates may be facing. I'd recommend that teachers keep a copy of this on their classroom shelf. It would also be a great candidate for a book club, either with young readers or a parent-child book club. There's plenty to unpack here.

Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of this book. I think it is a real winner!
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Although not as emotional as the first book, this novel in verse was beautifully written with such a strong voice. I love Anna and I feel for her as she navigates a new world, new culture, and ever changing family dynamics.

Novels in verse convey so much feeling through a minimal amount of words and that will forever stun me. I can't recommend this and other novels in verse enough!

I hope we'll get a third book in this series, because I'd really love to see how things turn out for Anna and her family! I will keep my eyes peeled for any sign that this may happen.
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Land of Broken Promises by Jane Kuo is a middle-grade novel in verse following a middle schooler named Anna who is a first-generation immigrant from Taiwan in the 1980s. After moving to the United States and having a rough first year, Anna’s family settled into living in California. That is, until her parents find out their visas have expired. The beauty of the literature and poetry helps Anna to grapple with this reality. The main plot of the book is inspired by the author’s personal experience as an immigrant and the challenges and sacrifices faced by her family and countless others.

	I enjoy many elements of Land of Broken Promises; however, I also believe that there are several things that Kuo could improve on. For example, some of the writing was very simple and many of the characters seemed rather one note. I wish the side-plots had been more fleshed out, as almost the entire novel seems to revolve around the same plot line. This makes the story seem less realistic and oversimplified. People’s lives are very complex, and this doesn’t seem to translate into Kuo’s novel. I wish we’d heard more about Anna’s relationship with her best friend, Tiffany, or how hard it was for Anna to keep the secret of her family’s expired visas. Keeping in mind that it was a middle grade novel, I feel the story still could have been a bit deeper. Afterall, I believe middle grade books should still be appreciated at all ages. 

The novel still has many beautiful moments. I find the plot very interesting and appreciate the themes that are explored. The recurring theme of the power and the weight words can have is really insightful. This is shown in many aspects such as the commentary on how your name relates to your destiny and the different amount of words groups of people have for certain things. An excerpt I really love is “Did you know the Inuit people / have over fifty different words for snow? / You can tell what’s important to a people by the sheer number of names they have for things… And Ba has so many different names for America. / For the longest time, we called America by its Mandarin name, / Mei Guo, which means beautiful country. / Then toward the end of last year, / Ba started calling this place the promised land” (Kuo 34-35). Land of Broken Promises also touches on the importance or lack thereof of literature. Anna’s father loves poetry, but her mother feels it is a waste of time and says, “Words fill your head with pretty stories only to leave you with an empty stomach.” The main character’s beliefs about spoken and written words change and develop throughout the novel. 

I love that poetry helped Anna to bond with her father, who loves Chinese poetry from the Tang dynasty. I also really like that the novel was written in verse as it adds more legitimacy to this theme. She describes discussing poetry with her father, but she also loves to read in English. The entire book is written in verse, which emphasizes the similarities between Anna and Kuo, whom she is based on. The written word, especially poetry, helps both of them to work through challenging circumstances and process their emotions.

            The book centers around the impact shattered dreams or unfulfilled desires or goals can have on people, and features the emotional and psychological changes that arise as a result. One of the key focuses in this novel is the characters not being able to pursue their ambitions. For example, Anna’s father gave up being a sea captain to spend time with his family and eventually emigrate to America. Kuo portrays the frustration, vexation and longing of those unaccomplished goals.

I felt like Anna’s perspective is interesting and love that her story is being told  since I had little prior knowledge about American immigration processes. This novel touched on many important topics like immigration status and racism in a raw and emotional way. There is a lot of commentary about children who are immigrants in America having to battle between learning English and adapting to American culture and losing the culture and language of their parents and their heritage. Anna calls English a “slippery” language throughout the book, which shows how it’s intriguing while also causing a divide between her and her parents.

I do find myself wishing there was a more clear conclusion to tie up Anna’s story. The book as a whole feels a bit brief and I didn’t find myself getting attached to the characters. Brevity is common in middle-grade books, however this story seems a bit incomplete. The characters don’t have much depth and many seem to be monotonous. The only properly fleshed out character is Anna, who I enjoyed watching grow throughout the book. I get a look into many of her introspective examinations of the world around her when she is unsatisfied with the surface levels of perception that she is first met with. This is one of my favorite aspects of the book and I wish I could see more of it in the other characters as well. 

All things considered, I’m rating this novel a 3/5. I think middle grade writers can learn a lot about writing novels in verse from Land of Broken Promises. Overall, Kuo did a very good job of telling a story effectively while maintaining style and rhythm in her poetry. However, at some times I found myself almost forgetting that it was written in verse and the need to tell a story took priority over the writing. I think this is especially notable in chapters that were focused on their immigration status and their paperwork, which is unfortunate because a more lyrical or emotional description of those scenes would have been very beautiful. I think writers can use this novel as a great example of how to write about more sensitive topics like immigration and race for younger audiences.
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I did not realize Land of Broken Promises was a sequel/companion piece to Jane Kuo’s In the Beautiful Country, which follows Anna and her parents as they move to the United States from Taiwan.

The good news is that Land of Broken Promises stands alone. I never once had any questions about characters or plot. And now that Kuo has another book, I can’t wait to read it.

Written in verse, Land of Broken Promises is a beautiful mix of detail and sparsity. Kuo balances the two, providing needed structure in some places and room for imagination in others.

Though set in the 1980s, Land of Broken Promises gives young readers a broad introduction to immigration and citizenship and the very real struggles surrounding them. And at the center of everything is Anna, a girl who just wants to live like her classmates.

Land of Broken Promises is a heartfelt novel loosely based on the author’s real-life experiences. I highly recommend it.
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Thank you NetGalley and Quill Tree Books for the advanced copy of this book. Initially, I didn’t realize this was a companion text to Kuo’s previous book, In the Beautiful Country. You do not have to read them together, but I feel it adds more to Ai Shi’s (Anna’s) story if you have read the first book. I felt more connected to Anna and her family situation having read In the Beautiful Country. I think it’s also beneficial to see how Anna grows/develops overtime. 
Having read both of them, I definitely felt the first book was more emotional. This book is marketed to be about Anna’s family immigration status, but I didn’t feel like that was the central focus of this book. While it played a significant role in the choices Anna’s family is forced to make, I felt the major themes in this book were around the sacrifices of immigrant families, Anna’s desire to be a “normal” teenager, her struggles with communicating her needs/wants with her parents, and the challenges Anna faces as she attempts to maintain her important friendships despite being unable to be her authentic self.
As with the first book, this is written in a way that is very accessible. We need more authentic stories about the immigrant experience to serve as both mirrors and windows for our young readers. I look forward to reading more of Kuo’s work, whether she continues with Anna’s story or not.
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Land of Broken Promises by Jane Kuo is a beautifully written middle grade novel in verse. A compelling and timely read offering a window into the experiences of undocumented immigrants, this sequel was just as enjoyable as In the Beautiful Country. I found myself rereading and lingering on certain passages. I'd especially recommend for fans of Jasmine Warga, as Kuo's work shares the lyrical writing style and themes of identity, belonging, and family. Thank you to NetGalley and Quill Tree books for the eARC!
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Land of Broken Promises is achingly enchanting. Sequel to In the Beautiful Country, we get a glimpse of Anna’s life in US as she tries to adjust. Will things ever be better? What are words worth anyway? This book is a gift to all readers.
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I really adored The Promised Land and was stoked to read the sequel. Once again, the reader is sucked into Anna's world and the experiences she faces as an immigrant. In comparison to the first novel, this one felt a little hollow and underdeveloped. I wished the story was longer and developed a denser plot. However, the verse is beautiful and the characterization feels authentic. I would love to see another sequel in the future.
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This was an utterly lovely book. I just love books written in verse and this was wonderfully done. The story was captivating and I enjoyed the story and characters. Thank you NetGalley for a copy of this book. I can't wait for more people to read this one!
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Thank you NetGalley and Quill Tree Books for Advanced Reader Copy!

This was such a lovely read! Land of Broken Promises is a novel completely written in poem verses. Although it was a quick read (at least for an adult), the book was packed with heart and beautiful imagery. I had no idea going into this read that this is actually a sequel, but that didn't hinder my reading experience. It can definitely stand on its own. I think the book wonderfully handles complex topics such as immigration, citizenship, and identity for younger audiences. It really goes into the experiences of those who recently immigrated to the United States and the trials and tribulations of obtaining legal status and its ripple effects on other aspects of life. Despite the book being set in the 1980s, it still echoes the experiences that immigrants deal with today in the 21st century. Land of Broken Promises also talks about something that I feel is rarely discussed both adult books and children's books-- this complex duality of the United States being both a dream for so many and seen as this promised land full of opportunity and yet a nightmare of broken systems and hardship. I commend Jane Kuo for writing such a heart-wrenchingly magnificent book that will teach generations to be bold and brave despite the odds being stacked against them.
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They say what you read and who you enter into relationships with will affect who you become in five years. 

I stared working in case management 7 years ago—half way through my masters program for global public health nursing. I had my eyes opened to so many things during that time. 

Those experiences lead me to @medicalteams and Healthy Women Healthy World. Their book club, that I now help moderate, has had a huge impact on my reading life. 

It’s why I was drawn to the ARC of Land of Broken Promises by Jane Kuo which will be released on June 6th. Thank you to @netgalley for it. These are my honest opinions. 

This book is loosely based on the authors own experience of being undocumented. It’s told in verse. This book is equal parts beautiful and heartbreaking and hopeful. This character was so real to me. Her situation so recognizable. I could see any child having these same thoughts/reactions/responses. It’s genuinely relatable in that way. 

This book is full of significant truths like this:
“But it’s not just one line. There are many separate lines depending on the applicant’s country of origin. And people from certain countries wait much longer. People wait years and years, and still, some never make it.”

I highly recommend this book. I plan to buy it and the one that comes before it, In the Beautiful Country. These are the stories I want my children to read. I want these stories to deeply affect the people they are becoming. I want them to be people of welcome with profoundly compassionate hearts.
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