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FROM A WHISPER TO A RALLYING CRY:
The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement
by Paula Yoo
From award-winning author Paula Yoo, comes FROM A WHISPER TO A RALLYING CRY: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement by Paula Yoo (Norton Young Readers; on-sale April 20, 2021; Ages 12+; 9781324002871)—a groundbreaking portrait of Vincent Chin and the case that took America’s Asian American community to the streets in protest of injustice.
Extensively researched from court transcripts and interviews with key case witnesses—many speaking for the first time—Yoo has crafted a suspenseful, nuanced, and authoritative portrait of a pivotal moment in Civil Rights history, and a man who became a symbol against hatred and racism.
In this current climate of civil unrest and a country confronting a history of deeply rooted systemic racism, the story of Vincent Chin is as important now as ever. With Asian Americans being singled out and racist incidents on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic, the story of Vincent Chin’s killing and its aftermath is incredibly timely, presenting an important learning moment for teen readers and adult audiences alike. Asian American history is often overlooked and undertaught in schools, and Vincent Chin’s name remains relatively unknown despite making national and international headlines at the time. Now, almost 40 years later, it’s time to remember Vincent Chin and the significant role his case played in American history.
America in 1982. Japanese car companies are on the rise and believed to be putting American autoworkers out of their jobs. Anti–Asian American sentiments simmer, especially in Detroit. A bar fight turns fatal, leaving Vincent Chin—a Chinese American man—beaten to death at the hands of two white men, autoworker Ronald Ebens and his stepson Michael Nitz. This is a searing examination of the killing and the trial and verdicts that followed. When Ebens and Nitz pled guilty to manslaughter and received only a $3,000 fine and three years’ probation, the lenient sentence sparked outrage in the Asian American community. This outrage galvanized the Asian American movement and paved the way for a new federal civil rights trial of the case—the first on behalf of an Asian American.
Paula Yoo is an award-winning author of children’s books, a former journalist, and current screenwriter who has merged her talents to create a thoroughly researched and reported nonfiction book, but with the intensity of a suspense movie thriller, and the intimate emotional character journey of a novel. As a Korean American who’s specialized in multicultural Asian- American themed children’s books, and having lived in Detroit working as a journalist for The Detroit News, Yoo is able to examine the controversial racial issues behind they Vincent Chin story with sensitivity, authority, and grace.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Paula Yoo is an award-winning children’s picture book author and novelist, a prolific TV writer/producer, and a freelance violinist. From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry is her debut YA nonfiction book. She lives in Los Angeles.
ABOUT NORTON YOUNG READERS
Norton Young Readers publishes a full range of books for young readers: picture books, narrative fiction and nonfiction, and graphic works, for all ages from preschool to teen. Its parent, W. W. Norton & Company, is the largest independent, employee-owned publishing house in the United States. It was founded in 1923 and publishes around 450 books per year in trade nonfiction, fiction, and poetry, as well as in college textbooks.
NORTON YOUNG READERS
PRAISE FOR FROM A WHISPER TO A RALLYING CRY:
2021 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD LONGLIST: YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE
2021 JUNIOR LIBRARY GUILD GOLD STANDARD
2021 KIRKUS REVIEWS: BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
2021 PUBLISHERS WEEKLY: BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
2021 SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL: BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR
2021 THE WASHINGTON POST: BEST CHILDREN’S BOOKS OF THE YEAR
2021 NPR: BOOKS WE LOVE
2021 AMAZON EDITORS’ PICK FOR BEST YOUNG ADULT BOOKS
2021 CHICAGO PUBLIC LIBRARY: BEST TEEN NONFICTION
2021 NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY: BEST BOOKS FOR TEENS
2022 NATIONAL EDUCATION ASSOCIATION (NEA): “READ ACROSS AMERICA” YA SELECTION
FIVE STARRED* REVIEWS: KIRKUS, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, HORN BOOK, BOOKLIST, SCHOOL LIBRARY
“Yoo’s comprehensive account sheds new light on the tragedy and its legacy.”
— The New York Times
“A bruising account.”
— TIME Magazine
“Paula Yoo’s detailed and compassionate account reveals a frustrating search for justice from many perspectives, including Chin’s mother, his friends, as well as a lawyer and a judge who admit to mistakes.”
— The Washington Post
“Paula Yoo's nonfiction masterpiece…is the most significant book I've read in a long, long while. ...She tells a profoundly human story. She helps us understand all the actors in that 40-year-old tragedy, even those who may not deserve understanding. If you want to make sense of today's Asian America, you must read Paula Yoo's book.”
— Gene Luen Yang, acclaimed author of American Born Chinese, for GMA.com
“A tremendous feat of both research and writing—and a major contribution to our inspiring and infuriating American story.”
—Steve Sheinkin, author of Newbery Honor
and National Book Award finalist Bomb
“This must-read is a masterwork of narrative nonfiction as Yoo marshals her prodigious journalistic and storytelling chops to bring Vincent Chin's tragic story and the community activism it inspired back to life. In doing so, she traces well-worn patterns of racism and injustice that place today's disturbing rise in anti-AAPI violence within an important historical context.”
— Bestselling author Minh Lê for TODAY.com
★ “This resonant, painstakingly recreated historical account features a timely afterword spotlighting the rise in anti-AAPI violence amid the Covid-19 pandemic, drawing parallels between this haunting account of a 40-year-old crime to present-day atrocities.”
— Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
★ “Yoo dives into this story, giving important historical context to the anti-Asian sentiments of the time while anchoring it in the experiences of those closest to Chin... Yet, for all the personal touches, Yoo remains admirably objective in how she relays the various court cases that arose from Chin’s murder, as well as their outcomes. In a compelling afterword, Yoo discusses the resurgence of anti-Asian attitudes and rhetoric in connection to COVID-19, reinforcing the book’s through line that Chin mustn’t be forgotten.”
— Booklist, Starred Review
★ “Superlatively conveys the context and significance of the events. . . . An accessible and compelling account of a tragedy that resonates through the decades.”
— Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
★ “In this extensively researched account—based on news articles (many reproduced here), court records, documentary films, and her own interviews—Yoo skillfully retells the life story of Vincent Chin...”
— The Horn Book, Starred Review
★ “Readers will be riveted by the first-person accounts from multiple points of view, including Chin’s family and friends, lawyers, defendants, and eyewitnesses. In fact, the book reads almost like a TV crime drama, utilizing flashbacks and culminating in a series of chapters depicting each key witness’s testimony.”
— School Library Journal, Starred Review