Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Jean Fritz’s Homesick: My Own Story follows the author’s experiences as the ten-year-old Jean Guttery, from her childhood in Hankow, China, to her arrival two years later in the place that her parents always referred to as “Washington, P.A.” Although largely episodic, each of the book’s seven chapters explores an aspect of Fritz’s growing sense of personal identity as she reviews her role within the family and her allegiances as an American abroad. As a first-person narrative, the story remains faithful to Fritz’s point of view as a young girl but gains expansiveness from the lively interest that she takes in the people, places, and events she observes or hears discussed. The most moving story is told by her nurse, Lin Nai-Nai, who had traveled to Wuchang to bring food to her family in the war-torn city. The net result of the author’s empathetic narration is not only a story of one girl’s life abroad with missionary parents but also a vivid set of character sketches and dramatic moments that bring China itself to life.

Fritz also provides a brief “Background of Chinese History, 19131927” at the conclusion of her story, as well as photographs of herself and her family and friends. All but one of the photographs were taken in China, and their Chinese settings (especially a photograph of bombed buildings in Wuchang) reinforce the sense of the author’s having been a witness to history.

At the beginning of the book,...

(The entire section is 575 words.)