The Fire Horse Girl is a YA historical novel by Kay Honeyman.
A Fire Horse is the worst Chinese zodiac sign for girls. In 1923, no one wants a girl to be stubborn, reckless and headstrong. Yet it fits Jade Moon well.
Often she is considered a curse on her family.
Marrying her off is their hope, but who would want to marry a Fire Horse?
When a young man named Sterling Promise arrives at their home with ties to Jade Moon’s estranged uncle, he brings tales of opportunity and freedom in America – and a chance to go there.
Desperate for a possibility to live somewhere that her strong, outspoken personality might not make her so much of an outcast, Jade Moon is thrilled. But upon reaching Angel Island, California’s immigration stop, she is horrified to find that the Chinese aren’t as welcome as she thought.
And a betrayal could send her right back to China…
The Fire Horse Girl has an authentic, disquieting historical feel. I so very much wanted Jade Moon to be able to have the chance to be the tough, smart girl she is – yet the alarmingly upsetting procedures of coming into America in 1923 as a Chinese immigrant made me worry she’d not get that chance.
For a while, despite The Fire Horse Girl being well-written, the plot felt familiar. I have read plenty of novels that feature time in an Angel Island/Ellis Island setting. Certainly, Honeyman does excellently portray the horrifyingly unpleasant immigration principles and presents a journey of steadfastness – but I was still a little ho-hum about it.
Once Jade Moon’s colorful, hopeful stories start to bring bittersweet hope to the fellow immigrants at Angel Island, though, the novel started to take a turn for the better. And a really surprising turn of plot, which I don’t even want to hint at here, brings about a uniqueness that it was missing.
The Fire Horse Girl is a story of heroism, suspenseful and inspiring, with amazing history and the making of a brave female protagonist. Really quite good.