A Chicago teen is using her voice and the written word to share and celebrate her Chinese-American heritage.
Kara Eng, 16, says she is publishing her story not only to bring awareness but also to inspire others.
Eng grew up in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood. She’s a junior in high school, loves to play volleyball and now she’s a published author of a remarkable work that celebrates her heritage.
“There were some tears that went into this book, many hours at staring at the screen and overcoming writers' block,” she said. “But in the end it was all worth it because I get to share the importance of who we are as Asian-Americans.”
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Eng says she loves to write and got the inspiration for her book during the pandemic.
“I fell in love with some of the books that one of my favorite authors wrote about. It was about this Caucasian family living in small town Indiana and I thought to myself—I want to write books that are just compelling as her books,” she said.
Eng wanted to incorporate her Chinese-American heritage, the richness of her culture, and her family’s history in Chicago’s Chinatown where her grandmother had a restaurant.
“We have to be proud of who we are and to not be ashamed of what we can bring to others,” she said.
Her book, titled "Not Just A Simple Chinese Girl," mirrors parts of her life in the big city.
“It’s just not about the Chinese community. It’s also about what’s going on with Asian violence,” she said. “I referenced that a little bit because I want to bring awareness about what’s going on.”
Eng’s book was released last week kicking off the celebration of Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage month.
“We have stories to share, it’s beautiful and it doesn’t matter where you’re from or how your life turns out,” she said. “You can be an ordinary person and still have so many things to show to other people.”
The book is available for purchase through Amazon, or customers can pick up a copy in person this Saturday, May 14 in Chinatown Square from 11am to 3pm.