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The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong

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3.24  ·  Rating details ·  200 ratings  ·  48 reviews
When Vee Crawford-Wong’s history teacher assigns an essay on his family history, Vee knows he’s in trouble. His parents—Chinese-born dad and Texas-bred Mom—are mysteriously and stubbornly close-lipped about his ancestors. So, he makes it all up and turns in the assignment. And then everything falls apart.

After a fistfight, getting cut from the basketball team, offending
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Hardcover, 368 pages
Published July 23rd 2013 by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers (first published February 12th 2013)
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Jenni Frencham
Holland, L. Tam. The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong.

Vee Crawford Wong would describe himself as half Texan, half Chinese. He is in high school and he fakes a family tree for Spanish class and fakes a family history for his history class. He's frustrated because he doesn't really know his extended family at all. He ends up conning his family into a trip to China, where he meets his grandfather and finds out that sometimes things don't work out the way we expect them to.

What I liked:
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Jane
May 30, 2015 rated it liked it
The beginning feels like a watered-down version of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, with Vee Crawford-Wong starring as a half-Chinese, half-Texan, and far more annoying and self-entitled Junior. The second half picks up a bit (in terms of Vee's likability, the action, and in originality), and I did enjoy the conclusion. I would definitely be interested in reading Holland's future work.

I DID NOT LIKE how Vee casually uses words like "retard" and "fag" in a derogatory manner and
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Celeste_pewter
Aug 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chalida
This book has some mixed reviews but it is a book I desperately needed as a teenager. It's about a biracial Chinese/White boy who grew up with a lot of silence around family history and he is determined to figure out what it means to be Chinese. He is determined to figure out his identity while navigating crushes on girls, hate for his history teacher and not making the basketball team. Vee's story is humorous and sweet. As a 40yo, I had the same gut reactions as he does when he finds out how ...more
Rich in Color
Jun 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary
There was plenty to laugh at here. Vee gets himself into complicated and humorous situations over and over again. He makes choices that are cringe-worthy throughout the book. This, of course, is part of the charm. The reader is compelled to find out if Vee is truly going to go through with his next idea. Then, there is the wait for the train wreck that is sure to happen. The book is fairly lighthearted and entertaining most of the time. Vee is trying to figure out who he is and what he wants for ...more
Hallie
Jul 24, 2013 marked it as to-read
Kirkus starred review, and it sounds great.
Julie Day
Oct 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: scanned
Could this character be any less likable?
Monique
Starting out my New Year with this sassy mature YA read that I was so curious about I decided to rock with it for about three hundred plus pages which is a lot considering there is no real plot—no real action and just the snarky and entertaining life of high school sophomore half Chinese and American kid named Vee Crawford-Wong. His difficulties with his peers, his teachers, his hormones and his family’s tightlipped secrecy on both sides of his family is driving him crazy.and when you add to ...more
Bostonlotus
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 17-tbr, book-jackets
This book meant well. I believe that. However, it failed. It failed spectacularly. Granted, I appreciated details of Chinese culture and the confrontation of bigotry in America related to the Chinese and others. Yet, ignorance is still ignorance, and offending everybody doesn't address the problem appropriately. This narrator wasn't just unreliable, he was a total jerk, who never really had to answer for his sins. The trip to meet his family was much too short (a red herring, if you will), and ...more
Sarah
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
I thought this would be super relatable - biracial kid feels disconnected from his roots on both sides, hello - but the protagonist spends the first three quarters of the book being the most judgmental asshole of all time, and his sudden decision to cut all (most) of that out felt unprompted and unearned. The book was far more tolerable, even a bit enjoyable, once they finally get to China, but by then, too little too late.

Also, can we knock it off with the "Oriental kitsch" cover designs?
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Tessa
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent read! The author handles the teen boy perspective expertly, and his insight can be so, so funny. Love where the book travels to, both literally and figuratively. Bravo!
David
Oct 15, 2019 rated it liked it
A coming of age novel about a boy who does not know his family history and his attempts to find out who he is.
HavenM
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is a pretty good comedy even though it can be offensive at times. I really like the portrayal of the small Chinese town that has decayed so much since Vee's father lived there.
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
For more reviews, gifs, Cover Snark and more, visit A Reader of Fictions.

Vee Crawford Wong, like many teenagers isn’t happy and doesn’t have a good conception of who he is. The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong is the story of his search for himself, his family’s past, and for a girlfriend. While I wasn’t totally captured by The Counterfeit Family Tree, I did like it and am impressed by Holland’s debut.

Most impressive I think is the first person male narration. Vee definitely feels
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Melinda
Oct 19, 2016 rated it did not like it
I read all the way through, though it has a sex scene and is full of teen angst and dysfunctional relationships, because I wanted to get information on living in China and adjusting Chinese and American cultures. Often the best way to see a culture clearly is through the eyes of someone who has switched cultures, because they see the differences much more clearly than someone who has lived with the same (or similar) set of assumptions all his life. Unfortunately, this book is set in current ...more
Wisteriouswoman
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved it! I thought Vee was a great character. It is filled with humor and life lessons.

It was surprising that a woman wrote this story because of the teen male sex fantasy angle but maybe she talks to a lot of teen boys or reads their writing. The sex scene was well handled--very realistic in the fact that his first encounter was a big disappointment and he had no idea what he was doing. That is the way it is for many young people--fantasy is better than reality especially when they are
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Sps
Feb 13, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: character, ya
Many things were enjoyable about this book, but the representation of Steffie wasn't one of them. She's the only lgbtq character we get to know in the book and she turns out to be jealous, manipulative, and considered the bad example that our protagonist doesn't want to turn into--in fact, possibly the only unredeemed character. Even Vee's nemesis/rival seems like less of a jerk by the end of the book. What's that about, L. Tam Holland? Not that there can't be less-than-angelic queer characters ...more
Wenlong Tian
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Since the day Vee Crawford-Wong was born, his life was involved in all different kinds of chaos. First having an alphabetical letter as his name like Vee insted of a real name, we can tell his parents didn't give that much effort on name their son. Second, not knowing any family history about his grandparents on either side because weird parents, right? Third and last, being an awkward sophomore and having a history class that requires him to write a paper about family stories while he doesn't ...more
Melissa Ramirez
Aug 23, 2014 rated it liked it
I wanted to like this book more than I actually did, which is a little sad. (I feel like that's been happening a lot lately: but it could be that I feel a little misled by the synopses of the books I've read lately. Not that there's anything bad about surprises, but if the synopsis promises me a road trip across America, I expect that road trip right off the bat, not 8 chapters in. But I digress- that's a different book I'm talking about ( yes I'm looking at you "Kissing in America"! You're ...more
Jennifer Bardsley
Dec 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've been excited to read The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong, by debut author L. Tam Holland, ever since I saw it listed in the Stanford alumni magazine. You might even say I had outrageously high expectations for the book. Luckily, Holland did not disappoint! The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong is hysterically funny, tense in all of the right moments, and poignant, especially at the end.

Vee Crawford-Wong is half Texan, half Chinese, and that's about as much as he
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Jim Sorensen
Oct 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book I have read in a long time. Not just as a young adult book, but as any kind of book. The first chapter was so hilarious I could hardly put it down. And even as it moves on to more serious content it remains a fun and enjoyable read. It is one of those rare books that I found myself reading more and more slowly as I got closer to the end because I didn’t want the story to be over.

Although it is a teen book adult characters are an integral part of the story and are portrayed
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Kate
Oct 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Vee Crawford-Wong's family, as he sees it, consists of him, his mother, and his father - that's it. All he knows about his mother's past is that she grew up in Texas; all he knows of his father's is that he grew up in China. And neither of them seem to want to talk about their pasts. So when his history teacher gives an assignment to write about his family history, what choice does he have but to lie? Add to that some conflicts with jock Mark White and Vee's desire to be on the basketball team, ...more
Ayumu
The Absolutely Fake Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong

I liked the book but Vee was a bit annoying to read but he is a teen boy. Vee is actually fairly realistic and reminded me of boys that I go to school with. He also reminded me of a more annoying Junior from Sherman Alexi's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Tam's book has a lot in common with Alexi's book. Teen boy trying to find cultural identity, main character gets in fight with bully, sarcasm, teen boy stuff(masturbation),
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Irene
Aug 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong is, hands down, the best Young Adult novel I have ever read. It possess all the common qualities of a Young Adult novel – teen angst, personal discovery, painfully accurate descriptions of teenage sexual encounters – however, Holland delivers a story that is playful, poignant, and delicately incisive.

The character of Vee Crawford-Wong has characteristics which almost any young person could relate to. He does not know who he is, but has a vague
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Julie
Aug 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Julie by: Mrs. Dalloway's (a bookstore in Berkeley)
Shelves: did-not-finish
This was part of a YA display in a bookstore in Berkeley, and I was interested because the protagonist is a hapa (a part-Asian racial mix), and the plot revolves around him finding out why his parents never speak of their families. It sounded like an interesting examination of racial identity and culture since Vee is a Chinese/Caucasian 10th grader trying to navigate high school social mores. However, I couldn’t finish it – Vee is stupidly self-destructive and self-centered, and after several ...more
Katelyn
Jun 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: high-school
Recommended to Katelyn by: me
It started off slow, but as it reached the middle, the purpose and heart began appearing in the writing. After I completed the novel, I realized the pace picked up as Vee, the main character, found himself and learned that life didn't revolve around his high school problems. It was a fantastic insight into a young teenager's life and the difficulties of growing up as a boy in lust. One thing is for sure...I don't envy guys :) I can't wait to see what this author comes up with next!
Corinne
Jun 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
The protagonist of this novel reminded me of Oscar Wao in Junot Diaz's (brilliant) A Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. There's a pathetic, sullen, coming of age discomfort in both characters which can strike a chord with just about any reader. Vee is an authentic character and I felt for him throughout the novel and was cheering when he capitalized on the opportunities for growth the novel brought him. This is quite the impressive debut from L. Tam Holland.
Luca H.
Apr 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
More of a 3.5 stars. "The Counterfeit Family Tree of Vee Crawford-Wong" is a very young-adult book about teenager Vee and his quest to discover his family history for a history paper. While I felt that the book was written nicely, it was also written at quite a low level, so I would more recommend it for a younger audience (or for someone who just wants to have a book to fly through). However, I thought the book did a very good job of portraying social issues to said younger audience.
Al
Sep 23, 2016 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sonja
Oct 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Nice enough, funny enough story of a boy straddling two cultures (half-Chinese, half-Texan) and yet detached from both as his parents are estranged from their families. Driven by school assignments to draw a family tree and write about his family's history, he gets crazy and makes up a bunch of stuff. This somewhat implausibly leads him to convince his father to take him to China. It's not as funny as the title makes it sound, but it is a blend of amusing and sometimes sweet.
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I grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, and if I didn't have my face in the water (swimming, playing water polo), most likely I had my nose in a book.

I moved to California to go to college and play more water polo, and now I'm an English teacher, coach, mom, and YA writer.

I love rainstorms, Star Wars, sushi, cooking, and discovering new books to read.

My first YA novel,
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“I was missing lectures leading up to an essay test, so I went downstairs & got my textbook & pretended to study, with Animal Planet playing in the background. Everyone we learned about was either white or some sort of predecessor of the white, Christian world--as if the Stone Age, Bronze Age & Iron Age were just Greek & Roman stepping stones. As if everyone outside of Europe was still grunting & digging for grubs. As if China, centuries before Jesus started squalling in his crib, hadn't already kicked Europe's ass in technology & art.” 0 likes
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