Prairie Lotus

By Linda Sue Park,

Book cover of Prairie Lotus

Book description

Prairie Lotus is a powerful, touching, multilayered novel about a girl determined to fit in and realize her dreams: getting an education, becoming a dressmaker in her father’s shop, and making at least one friend.

Acclaimed, award-winning author Linda Sue Park has placed a young half-Asian girl, Hanna, in a…

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Why read it?

5 authors picked Prairie Lotus as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This historical novel has been heralded as a fresh look at the era of the Little House books, and it does a wonderful job of looking at frontier life in Dakota Territory in 1880 from the perspective of Chinese-American Hanna. It’s also an examination of a daughter trying to navigate an often prickly relationship with her white father, made even more difficult after the death of Hanna’s Chinese-Korean mother. I love Hanna’s careful study of everyone around her—observances that are borne from a need to protect herself from racism, but which are also windows to empathy and understanding. Despite her…

This book is a gentle but important reminder that notions of white superiority are intertwined with American pioneer history, something that enters into my book as well. I cringed at the casual racism the half-Chinese main character, Hanna, encounters, and cheered for her to find a home in Dakota Territory. Linda Sue Park intended this book as a “conversation” with the Little House books, and I think she succeeded in showing the pioneer story from the perspective of overlooked minorities.

From Kathleen's list on the American prairie.

While my parents were born in Korea, they emigrated to America in 1954 and fell in love with western shows Wagon Train, The Big Valley, and Bonanza. As a child, I would watch reruns with them and imagine myself riding on a wagon train or living on a prairie. Imagine that―a Korean girl in the Old West! While fourteen-year-old Hannah Edmunds in Prairie Lotus, is half white (father’s side) and half Chinese (mother’s side) she is Chinese in the eyes of her LaForge neighbors in the U.S. Dakota Territory where her father sets up shop―a dress shop―in town.


I was a nut for the Little House on the Prairie books growing up (I even convinced my mom to name my littlest sister Laura, after author Laura Ingalls Wilder), so I love vintage farm stories. Prairie Lotus covers the same ground—rural life on the plains in the 1880s-- but with an Asian-American lead character, during a very anti-Asian chapter in our nation’s history. Main character Hanna has moved with her white father (her mother, who was Asian, has died) to a small town where prejudice is rampant. To make a living and build a life, Hanna must draw on…

From Elizabeth's list on girls with the skills to survive.

All of Linda Sue Park’s books are fantastic. She’s a master of imagery and character development and her writing is poetic. I’ve heard her speak at writing conferences and the amount of time she spends editing her books to make them perfect is amazing. In Prairie Lotus, Hanna and her father flee the racism and violence against Asians in California in 1800. But nowhere is safe for Hanna, even the Dakota Territories. It’s important to always remind ourselves of the harassment and murder of people of color that happened in our country so we can keep fighting to end…

From Bibi's list on walk a mile in my shoes books.

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