Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain

Freedman, Russell. Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain. Clarion, 2013. 96pp. Lexile 1140.

While most people think of Ellis Island as the historic entry point for immigrants, more than a half a million newcomers entered the U.S. through Angel Island in San Francisco Bay.  From 1910 to 1940, immigrants mostly from Asia spent weeks and even months anxiously waiting to see if they would be admitted.  This excellent history quotes from transcripts of the interrogations that decided their fates and incorporates poignant poems in Chinese characters that still adorn the walls of the buildings.  Well-chosen historic photographs enhance the exploration of the island’s history, individual stories, and the discrimination and hardship that Asians faced here.  One chapter focuses on women and another on non-Asian immigrants.  The narrative wraps up gracefully with the story of how the island and buildings were preserved and became part of a state park in 2009, thanks to activism by the Asian-American community.  A gem for the curriculum or independent reading.