She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, The Reeducation of Cherry Truong, and reported the following:
I was so happy to discover what scene I landed on for this test, because it fortuitously foreshadows the central conflict of the novel: how my main protagonist Cherry grapples with the unfair expectations her Vietnamese immigrant family thrusts upon her, her brother, and cousins to succeed in America.Learn more about the book and author at Aimee Phan's website and blog.
On page 69, we join Cherry, age 8, and her older brother Lum, 13, at their grandmother’s birthday party, where they are promptly confronted with a surprise palm reading by their grandmother’s closest psychic friend Ba Liem. While Cherry’s horoscope is rather uninspiring and sexist (she can be a nurse to her doctor husband!), Lum’s prediction sadly confirms the boy’s worst fears of inadequacy:
“This one is murky,” she pronounced. “I can’t get a clear reading on him. He is too impressionable, easily influenced by his peers. He must be watched very carefully...his eyes are good now, but he may require reading spectacles when he is forty-two.”And of course, readers know at this point that he will be very unruly! But I love how this scene not only shows the significance of superstition in this family’s biases against each other, but it also reveals the children’s resistance of these preordained fates. Yet, this silly fortuneteller’s words will cast a large shadow over these children, no matter how much they try to deny it.
Both Grandmother Vo and Ba Nhanh leaned forward, as if to examine Lum with a new perspective.
“I suspected this one may be more troublesome,” Ba Nhanh said.
“He doesn’t do as well in school as his sister,” Grandmother Vo said to the twins. “His parents say he has poor reading skills, but perhaps it’s more than that.”
Lum withdrew his hand. “I’m doing fine in school.”
The old ladies stared at him with oval mouths.
“Impudent child!” Grandmother Vo said. “Ba Liem is honoring you with a reading and you disrespect her like this?”
“We shouldn’t be surprised,” Ba Liem said, nodding in satisfaction. “I will speak with his mother later. We will stop it, Ba Kim, before he gets too unruly.”