I always enjoy reading American Girl books, even as an adult. When American Girl announced the release of Corinne Tan, Girl of the Year 2022, and Corinne’s little sister, Gwynn, I knew I had to read Corinne’s books. I’m always a fan of sibling stories, and Corinne’s first book did not disappoint! :)
Caution: Minor spoilers ahead!
About the book
Corinne was published in 2022 and was written by Wendy Wan-Long Shang. The story is set in Aspen, Colorado, a ski resort town in the Rocky Mountains. The main characters are Corinne (9) and her little sister, Gwynn (7). Other characters include Corinne’s mom, dad, and Arne, Corinne and Gwynn’s new stepdad. Corinne is also close friends with Cassidy, a girl from her school. This book follows Corinne as she adapts to change in her family, what that means for her relationships, tries a new hobby and learns to communicate better with others.
Things I loved
- I loved the emphasis on validating the experiences of others. Corinne deals with racist bullies on multiple occasions. Her new stepfather, Arne, wants to be supportive, but doesn’t go about it in the best way. He wants Corinne to be happy and tells her not to worry, but it doesn’t sit right with Corinne (understandably so!). Arne brushes it off, telling Corinne that she will never see the bullies again, or that people like that don’t live in Aspen, Colorado. However, at the end of the book, Arne realizes that he’s just trying to keep Corinne from feeling sad or worried. Corinne tells Arne, “You don’t have to try to make me happy all the time. More than anything, I want you to listen and believe me.” Arne takes this to heart and says he promises to try moving forward.
- I really appreciated the way in which they brought up racist parts of American history and acknowledged that it’s important to do so. In chapter 14, Corinne is at school and looking through old Colorado newspapers with her classmates. She comes across a racist article about Chinese people. A boy in her class then speaks up about a racist sign his grandfather told him about, recognizing it as “mean”. Corinne’s teacher takes it in stride and tells the students it’s important to “learn from the past so we don’t make the same mistakes” in the future.
- Corinne and Gwynn’s relationship. The sister bond (or “sister brain” as Gwynn calls it) they have is adorable throughout the whole book and makes the story worth reading. :,)
- The moment between Arne and Corinne’s dad at the end. Throughout the whole book, Corinne feels as if she’s walking on eggshells hanging out with Arne and her dad separately, never wanting to mention the other in fear of making them upset. After finding Corinne up on the mountain, Corinne’s dad and Arne shake hands and acknowledge that they both love Corinne and Gwynn, and that’s what matters most. Corinne sees this happen and is relieved to see them getting along. Moments like that can be healing, and I’m glad it was included in the story.
- Any part with Flurry. Flurry seems like the cutest dog ever. 😍
- The mountain/ski town setting. This is kinda silly, but my siblings and I would always play Wii Ski on Saturday mornings when we were younger. It was a game where you ski, of course, but it was set in this little ski resort with lots of buildings, like a little town. As I read Corinne’s book, I kept picturing scenes from the game and it made me happy, haha.
Things I didn’t love
- The storyline of keeping secrets and not communicating clearly with close friends and family has been used in many books. I found this aspect of Corinne’s story extremely predictable. I wish more books showed examples of good communication among family and friends. I realize that not every family has great communication, but helping children/tweens recognize that good communication does exist and what it looks like in action could be very beneficial.
I thought “Corinne” was a great read. It does cover more serious topics like racism and divorce, so I recommend this book to 3rd-5th+ graders or just anyone who loves American Girl. :) It’s also a great resource for starting conversations with kids about social justice and racism in the past and present.
You can purchase Corinne’s book on American Girl’s website or on Amazon by clicking the photo below!