Freedom for Me: A Chinese Yankee is about young Thomas, who wants nothing more than to fight for the Union and show his Yankee spirit. As one of the few Chinese people, Thomas finds himself ridiculed and misunderstood. He watches as his American brother refers to him as someone who simply “lives with us.” This statement, as well as the following uncorrected assumption that Thomas is a slave, leaves Thomas wondering why everything has to be so complicated.
Determined to prove himself worthy and to take action on what he believes is right, Thomas rashly enlists in the army, pretending to be old enough. Despite having to deal with several rough boys who routinely mock him, Thomas is determined to prove himself a Yankee worth remembering.
When Thomas meets and befriends a runaway slave, however, the true meaning of freedom begins to make itself known to Thomas. He begins to understand that it’s not just about proving yourself to others. Once the war reaches an epic climax, Thomas decides that it doesn’t matter your nationality, as long as you stand up for what you believe.
While perhaps slightly elementary in its writing style, this book easily made for an excellent addition to my bookshelf. It broadened my understanding of what went on during the Civil War. I found this story to be delightful and heartwarming.
The characters were wonderfully developed, and the story itself is written with exceptional realism, making it seem as if the tale could be happening right alongside you as you read. Thomas, who is the main character, is Chinese. At first, I was confused on how he ended up in America with his new family, but the author explained it eventually as it being something of the likeness of an unofficial adoption.
This story is based on one of the very few Chinese Yankees who served during the Civil War. There is obvious racism throughout the story, but none of it is overly harsh, and most of it is thoroughly explained and makes sense with the story.
This book took a well-known historical event and spun it into an epic tale told from the perspective of a Chinese boy. The author did a wonderful job enlightening me as well as teaching me more about the types of people who fought in the Civil War.
Freedom for Me: A Chinese Yankee is a historical fiction novel for middle-aged readers about young Thomas, who through many trials, discovers the true meaning of freedom. Thomas puts it this way at the end of the book:
“It’s a privilege,” Thomas answered without hesitation, “to help spread freedom in America.”
“Freedom for the slaves?”
“No,” Thomas considered Freedom for all of us.