Gold Mountain

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Pub Date 05 Apr 2022 | Archive Date 30 Apr 2022
Lerner Publishing Group, Carolrhoda Lab ®

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Growing up in 1860s China, Tam Ling Fan has lived a life of comfort. Her father, a magistrate, is wealthy enough to provide for his family yet nontraditional enough to spare Ling Fan from the debilitating foot-binding required of most well-off girls. But her life is upended when her brother, Jing Fan, dies and their father is imprisoned under false accusations. To earn the money that will secure her father's release, Ling Fan disguises herself as Jing Fan and takes his contract to work as a laborer on the Transcontinental Railroad in America. Once there, she must face grueling work conditions, avalanches, treachery, and racism to save what is left of her family.

Growing up in 1860s China, Tam Ling Fan has lived a life of comfort. Her father, a magistrate, is wealthy enough to provide for his family yet nontraditional enough to spare Ling Fan from the...

Advance Praise

"Ling Fan felt like my indomitable best friend—I was rooting for her as she faced impossible stakes and truly terrifying villainy. I loved this book!"—Karen Bao, author of The Dove Chronicles series

"A story of strength, courage, and resilience that not only brings the past to vivid, complex life, but has much to say about the present...thrilling, engrossing, and moving. I couldn't put it down." —Kate Racculia, author of Bellweather Rhapsody

"Ling Fan felt like my indomitable best friend—I was rooting for her as she faced impossible stakes and truly terrifying villainy. I loved this book!"—Karen Bao, author of The Dove Chronicles series


Available Editions

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ISBN 9781728415826
PRICE $18.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 25 members

Featured Reviews

GOLD MOUNTAIN is a gripping tale of Ling Fan, a strong-willed, determined teenaged girl whose desire to see her father safe drives her to disguise herself as a boy and join the sojourners laboring on the Transcontinental Railroad. There aren't nearly enough stories of this often passed-over part of American history, and I appreciate the author shining a spotlight on the grueling work conditions and racism the laborers endured. Also appreciated is Yee including the historical backdrop against which the Transcontinental Railroad was built: to lay the track, the Americans displaced and killed many Native peoples, a fact which also often goes unsaid.

I hope this title becomes a part of the American teaching curriculum, which is sorely in need of updating when it comes to Asian American history. I would have loved a book like this when I was young.

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I was instantly immersed every time I opened this book. Betty Yee’s descriptions, writing, and details were wonderfully evocative. The story takes place in China and America during the building of the transcontinental railroad in the 1860s. There were more than ten thousand Chinese sojourners that worked to complete the railroad, yet little is known about them. In the Author’s Note, Yee says that she wrote the book because she wanted to tell the story of one of these nameless workers.

Yee chose the story of a fictional girl, Tam Ling Fan, who disguises herself as her dead brother so she can use his railroad contract to sail to America and make enough money to free her imprisoned father. It is a dangerous quest for a girl who is naively idealistic and loyal to a fault. And there were plenty of life-threatening scenarios and plot twists that kept me turning pages. But it was Tam Ling Fan’s inner conflicts—which she writes as messages for her dead brother and then burns to send them up to him—that were so poignant. Over and over I related to her struggles of reconciling her inner self with her outer one. It’s something we all confront on a daily basis, and I came away feeling as if Yee gave me new insight into it. Wonderful.

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Tan Ling has always known a life of comfort and wealth, however her privileged life comes to a crashing halt when her father is imprisoned and her twin brother dies. Left with a railroad contract originally left for her brother Tan Ling makes a decision that will change her life and hopefully earn enough money to release her father from prison. Tan Ling disguises herself as her brother and makes the journey to America. Life is not easy on the Gold Mountain and not only does Tan Ling have to survive the arduous labor of the mountain, but racism as well on top of the fear of anyone finding out her secret.
Gold mountain was gripping read read chocked full of historical information that I was quite honestly not fully aware of. I connected with the main character of Tan Ling and genuinely cared for this character and rooted for her every step of her journey. Betty G. Yee is a superb storyteller and I hope to read more of her works and most definitely recommend Gold Mountain.

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I loved this book!! Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and Gold Mountain did not disappoint.

The plot was really fantastic, and it had me hooked from the beginning. It was full of historical information that I found very interesting. The characters were well fleshed out and relatable.

I feel like this is an important book to read. We don’t talk enough about exploitation of the Chinese railroad works. I loved this book and will be purchasing the physical copy.

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First, I would like to thank NetGalley for an advanced copy of Gold Mountain.

I absolutely loved reading this historical fiction YA story set in China and California in 1867 when the Transcontinental Railroad was being built. Historical fiction is my favorite genre and Gold Mountain did not disappoint. The author weaves important and interesting historical context into a compelling story that I couldn’t put down. What I loved most was the main characters innate goodness, which didn’t fade even as the challenges she faced multiplied. I found myself routing for her with each page turn.

The plot synopsis from NetGalley is below:
In 1867 Fifteen-year-old Tam Ling Fan disguises herself as her twin brother, journeys from her village in China to California, and works as a laborer on the Transcontinental Railroad—where she faces danger on multiple fronts—to earn the money her family desperately needs.

The plot was gripping and kept me hooked. I stayed on edge with these questions running through my mind: Would she live or die? Would she return to her home with the money she needed for her family? Would the inhuman treatment she endured on the transcontinental railroad break her?

The writing was just what a YA should be. I felt close to the main character, as though I was sitting right next to her. The writing style was active and engaging.

The characters were relatable and fleshed out. Not one of them was one dimensional and all were multi-faceted and fleshed out. Even for the villains there were motivations and struggles behind them ‘going bad’.

I really enjoyed this novel, and recommend you buy it when released in April 2022!

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Betty Yee’s gripping story, set against the backdrop of the buidling of the transcontinental railroad during the 1860s, is absolutely stunning. The story follows fifteen-year-old Tam Ling Fan who, after her twin brother’s death and her father’s imprisonment, disguises herself as her brother in order to journey from China to California. There, still in disguise as a boy, she joins other Chinese laborers to lay railroad track through the Sierra Nevada. Up against treacherous conditions and racial hostility, Ling Fan fights to get the money she needs to secure her father’s release. I absolutely loved Ling Fan - she is a determined, resilient character who I was instantly rooting for. I was completely immersed in the rich historical setting, and the engrossing plot kept me eagerly turning the pages late into the night. Highly recommend this book, especially for lovers of well-researched historical fiction with beautifully layered heroines you instantly love.

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This was a really exciting read with a perspective that I don't think I've read before in historical fiction! I knew a lot of the facts about the transcontinental railroad and the Chinese immigrants who worked on the Central Pacific side, but this added a really interesting narrative element and got me thinking more on the individual and day-to-day level rather than the big-picture level. Based on a few things that happened in the first third of the book, I was worried that it was going to be very predictable, and while all of the things I'd predicted at that point came to pass, so did many other things that I didn't see coming.

CW: racism, sexism, rape threats made against a minor, deaths (including sibling and past parental deaths), incarcerated parent, injuries, drug use and dealing (opium)

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Wow, this is a story that you get completely drawn into! Ling is brought to life immediately in this one. I loved her as the MC, and I was completely connected to her story. Going from China to the American railway lines, I was so invested in what was happening. I learned so much through this story, and I think it is one that historical fiction fans are going to love!

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This was riveting and satisfying. Ling Fan is such a compelling character, with fierce grit and uncompromised determination. The story vibrantly describes a time that some of us have only encountered as a vague outline in history. I was overwhelmed by the descriptions of the bone-crushing work, the brutal dangers and the urgency of some of the sojourners who came to work on the railroad. It is always a question of whether such a grim landscape will break or compromise the spirit of those who face these harsh conditions. Yes, the story is fast paced and the action layers together. But in the end, I came away acutely aware that each sojourner had their own very personal story that brought them to America. They left fathers, sisters or daughters who loved them. They are not the impersonal gritty pictures from the History Channel for me anymore. Ling Fan - I rooted for her throughout.

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