When the Asian Girl Speaks: A Comparative Analysis of Two Young Adult Novels in English Written by Asian Women

Lalaine Yanilla Aquino


This paper analyzes two contemporary award winning young adult novels in English: Sing to the Dawn by Minfong Ho, and A Step from Heaven by An Na. Sing to the Dawn, published in Singapore, won first prize in the 1975 Council of Interracial Books for Children in New York; while A Step from Heaven, published in New York, won the 2002 Michael L. Printz Award.
By using feminist and critical stylistics, this paper aims to answer the following questions: Do Asians retain their “voice” even when they write in English and live in foreign lands? Given this situation, how do they make their voice heard?  How do the two women Asian writers represent the voice of their young female protagonists? Is the voice still distinctly Asian in spite of speaking in English and being written by Asian writers who have long lived in America? When the Asian girl speaks, who listens? Literally and figuratively speaking, has the Asian female finally found her voice?
By answering these questions, this paper aims to identify at least some aspects of the Asian “voice” in English and determine the Asian female identity represented in the two young adult novels.


Children’s literature, critical stylistics, feminist stylistics, young adult literature

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ISSN: 2012-0788