A rule-abiding town learns what happens when two newcomers make their own rules. The plot centers on a custody battle between a Cantonese mother trying to get her daughter back from an American couple. As you read, decide for yourself: how important is accurate cultural representation in the raising of a child?
“Does May Ling have any dolls?” Ed Lim asked.
“Of course. Too many.” Mrs. McCullough giggled. “She loves them. Just like every little girl. We buy her dolls, and my sisters buy her dolls, and our friends buy her dolls—” She giggled again, and Mr. Richardson’s jaw tensed.
“She must have a dozen or more.”
“And what do they look like, these dolls?” Ed Lim persisted.
“What do they look like?” Mrs. McCullough’s brow crinkled. “They’re—they’re dolls. Some are babies, and some are little girls—” It was clear she didn’t understand the question. “Some of them take bottles, and some of them, you can change their dresses, and one of them closes her eyes when you lay her down, and most of them, you can style their hair—”
“And what color hair do they have?”
Mrs. McCullough thought for a moment. “Well—blond, most of them. One has brown hair. Maybe two.”
“How about the doll that closes her eyes? What color are her eyes?”
“Blue.” Mrs. McCullough crossed her legs, then uncrossed them again. “But that doesn’t mean anything. You look at the toy aisle—most dolls are blond with blue eyes. I mean, that’s just the default.”
“The default,” Ed Lim repeated, and Mrs. McCullough had the feeling of being caught out, though she wasn’t sure why.”
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