The Lost Garden Critical Essays

Laurence Yep


(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Yep begins The Lost Garden by taking readers through his memories of his first home, store, and courtyard garden, which his deceased father so lovingly nurtured. He ends the book with a metaphor of seeds of that garden stirring within his imagination, within his heart, and within his soul.

Yep’s skillful use of language can be perceived throughout the book. Metaphors and figurative language create comparisons that make the characters come alive. Even Jezebel, the old family car, is personified: “Being elderly for a car, Jezebel disliked hills and would protest by wheezing constantly up the slope like an old asthmatic.” At an early age, Yep realized that “what made people most interesting were their imperfections. Their quirks were what made them unique and set them apart from everyone else.”

Yep recounts his childhood as a grocer’s son, living in a predominantly African American neighborhood. As a third-generation Chinese American, he found the issue of identity a difficult one. He claims that writing helped him in his search for cultural identity. His books have a wide popularity among young adult readers, probably because his theme of being an outsider—an alien—appeals to them.

In his autobiography, Yep emphasizes how working in La Conquista gave him the discipline for setting a routine in his daily life. As a writer, he tries to write from four to six hours a day, in addition to two hours of notetaking...

(The entire section is 525 words.)