2021 Honorable Mention – Young Adult/High School Literature
Freedom Swimmer by Wai Chim (Scholastic)
This incredible story about two boys’ swim from mainland China to Hong Kong in search of freedom from poverty and oppression is inspired by a true story
Ming survived the famine that killed his parents during China’s ‘Great Leap Forward’, and lives a hard but adequate life, working in the fields.
When a group of city boys comes to the village as part of a Communist Party re-education program, Ming and his friends aren’t sure what to make of the new arrivals. They’re not used to hard labor and village life. But despite his reservations, Ming befriends a charming city boy called Li. The two couldn’t be more different, but slowly they form a bond over evening swims and shared dreams.
But as the bitterness of life under the Party begins to take its toll on both boys, they begin to imagine the impossible: freedom.