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Young Adult Fiction Short Stories

What Happened this Summer

by (author) Paul Yee

Tradewind Books
Initial publish date
Sep 2006
Short Stories, Assimilation, Friendship
Recommended Age
12 to 18
Recommended Grade
8 to 12
Recommended Reading age
12 to 18
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2006
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


This new collection of short stories by Governor General's Award winning author Paul Yee confronts the secret lives of Chinese-Canadian teenagers as they battle with their parents over schooling, carreers, sexuality, religion and integration into North American culture. Once again Paul Yee offers a rare glimpse into the conflicted world of Chinese youth, some of whom are locally born, while others have recently immigrated from Hong Kong, Taiwan and China.

About the author

Paul Yee is one of Canada's finest writers for children. He was raised in Vancouver and has worked in the archives at the Vancouver Museum. He won the Governor General's Literary Award for Children's Literature for Ghost Train. He now lives in Toronto.
Ghost Trainbr>    Winner of the Governor General's Literary Award 1996br>    Winner of the Ruth Schwartz Children's Book Award 1997br>    Finalist for the Toronto IODE Book Award 1997
The Bone Collector's Sonbr>    Winner of the City of Vancouver Book Award 2004br>    Finalist for the Rocky Mountain Book Award 2006br>    Finalist for the Stellar Book Award (BC Teen Readers' Choice Award) 2005-6br>    Chosen as Best of 2004, Resource
Bamboobr>    Finalist for the Chocolate Lily Award 2007 (BC Readers' Choice Award)br>    Chosen as Best of 2006, Resource Links
The Jade Necklacebr>    Finalist for the Mr. Christie's Book Award 2002

Paul Yee's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“This collection of nine short stories addresses the experience of today's immigrant Chinese youth coming of age in Canada.”


“These stories offer a varied, thought-provoking picture of a community Yee has long profiled.”

Toronto Star

"Every teen of Chinese ancestry will identify with the characters and situations here. These stories will definitely serve the Asian-American (or Canadian) students in our high schools, and other students may come away with a better understanding of Asian-American students after reading this. Highly Recommended."

Library Media Connection

“Yee's teens are not only credible; they will stick with readers just as Salinger's Glass family has.”


Librarian Reviews

What Happened this Summer

This collection of short stories by Governor General's Award winning author Paul Yee takes readers into the lives of Chinese teens in Canada, who must deal with their cultural backgrounds as well as battle parents over schooling, careers and peer relationships. Like all teens, they grapple daily with issues around sexuality, religion and fitting in.

This book speaks to many young adolescents who struggle to balance family traditions with the lure of urban culture. Whether they are immigrants or not, teenagers can draw text to self-connections through this powerful story of one Chinese adolescent boy — a complementary class activity would be to encourage students to tell their own stories in healthy class discussions or through writing their own personal narratives.

Source: Association of Canadian Publishers. Top Grade Selection 2016.

What Happened This Summer

This novel is a collection of stories of Chinese-Canadian teenagers dealing with the conflict arising from being a teen in modern Canada and trying to live within their families’ traditional Chinese culture. The stories involve a group of teens loosely connected by being part of Toronto’s Chinese-Canadian community. Each chapter can be read as a stand-alone story. Most of the teens in the stories are immigrants; some were born in Canada to immigrant parents. The stories deal realistically with the issues these teens face, and do not flinch from dealing with harsh problems.

Paul Yee’s other books include Ghost Train and The Bone Collector’s Son. He has won the Governor General’s Award, the City of Vancouver Book Award and a BC. Book Prize.

Caution: Coarse language, descriptions of drug use and sexual content.

Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. BC Books for BC Schools. 2007-2008.

What Happened This Summer

Like Tales from Gold Mountain and Dead Man’s Gold, Paul Yee’s latest collection of interrelated short stories captures the struggles of the Chinese in the New World. But this collection marks a shift in more ways than one. The time is not the nineteenth, but the twentyfirst century; the locale is no longer the West Coast, but Toronto and its suburbs; and the immigrants are teens. Although some of these young people are attracted to Chinatown and Kensington markets, more often their world consists of high school halls with rows of lockers and an “outdoor market of sour lunch smells” and “too many posters of Hello Kitty.”

Adolescent questioning, cynicism and angst are compounded by issues of racism, family obligation, the tensions of two cultures, and struggles with language. These teens are still electronically connected to their friends back home, a home where they knew the language, where teachers praised them, where they knew the song lyrics! Da-ren, studying for the dreaded TOEFL exam, finds that the small words are the most difficult aspect of learning English. And it is the small words that layer the complexities of these stories. Words like fate and gay and family and love.

In the final (and title) story, the supernatural creeps coldly in to a summer on the beach. But there are quiet ghosts in the other stories too: an 18-year-old becomes a father when he marries to pay a family debt of honour; Simon discovers that his birth-Mum killed herself so that he would have a better life in North America with his father’s family.

Yee – a keen listener and observer of life in the high schools and the malls – provides a sometimes humorous but ultimately haunting glimpse into the fraught world of Chinese-Canadian teens.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2006. Vol.29 No. 4.

What Happened This Summer

The award-winning author takes us into the lives of Chinese-Canadian teenagers and their struggles to balance traditional parent expectations against the pull of today’s culture.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Canadian Children’s Book News. 2007.

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