Name: Fonda Lee
Title: The Drink and the Wheel
Genre: YA Fantasy
THE DRINK AND THE WHEEL, a young adult martial arts fantasy novel inspired by Chinese mythology and history, blends Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon with a relatable, contemporary voice. 16-year-old Mia Fletcher is nervous about returning to China for the first time since she was adopted as a baby. Spending six weeks on a student exchange trip with her popular, athletic older brother Liam turns out to be the least of her concerns when the two of them are drawn into the ancient, fantastical Realm of Longhan and charged with fulfilling a perilous oath handed down by an ancestral god.
It’s hard to believe I was born here.
Not here, as in this city park in Chongqing, across from Mr. and Mrs. Ding’s apartment building, but here, in this country, a place so different and far from home. I’m sure it’s a mercy that I can’t remember a thing about being abandoned on an orphanage doorstep, but I’ve often wondered why the first three destiny-shaping years of a person’s life are a total blank.
Maybe not a total blank. My old nightmare must come from somewhere.
It went away for years, but lately, two or three times a week, I’ve been waking up with my pulse thudding, my chest tight. Maybe this exchange trip has awoken whatever inner demons my parents spent thousands of dollars to subdue with therapists in my early childhood. Unease prickles my mind like Chongqing’s oppressive humidity on my skin.
I pull my feet up onto the edge of the park bench and rest my chin on my knees. Reflected early morning sunlight glances off metal and catches my eye. Swords, circling and thrusting, slowly and smoothly, blades trailing their brilliant plumage of red tassels. The tai chi adepts, in their white silk uniforms, move calmly and with graceful precision. Watching them is strangely and deeply soothing, like sitting by running water or listening to a familiar lullaby.
In a few days, I’ll be on a plane. Once I’m home, the dream will probably go away again. In the meantime, my subconscious can stuff it; I’m not going to let it ruin my last weekend here.