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Lee creates a touching story of growth crafted from adolescent struggles in the belly of the beast set in the fast-paced hustle and bustle of New York City.
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Each person has unique gifts within themselves, and how those gifts are used is a personal choice. You can take the road of good or evil, which determines your destiny. The ability to choose how to live your life is the real power you possess, but it requires understanding the differences between the power of the evil promises of Satan and the power of God’s strength, given to people who open their hearts and minds to it. Life’s events present many opportunities to make a conscious decision about relationships, love, and reactions to things like prejudice and morality. It is not easy to make good choices as life’s events unfold, but looking inward for strength makes decision-making easier. In this book, you go on several journeys with a 17-year-old who learns these lessons in unusual ways.
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In Search of Rohan Chang
Lee creates a touching story of growth crafted from adolescent struggles in the belly of the beast set in the fast-paced hustle and bustle of New York City.READ NOW
Author Lincoln Lee’s main character, Rohan Chang, is the 17-year-old Asian-American son of parents from Taiwan. The book opens with a crime that sets the stage for suspense throughout the book. A description of the life and experiences of Rohan Chang in high school is, at the same time, entertaining but informative as to the expressions of prejudice that Asian Americans experienced in 1997. Rohan battles stereotyping, school bullies, street life experiences and strict parents, but he also meets the girl of his dream named Amayah, who accompanies him on his mysterious journeys that unfold throughout the story.
Rohan begins hearing voices inside his head that guide him in various situations as he strives for what so many high school teens want – to be seen as a “cool kid” – but bullies make that nearly impossible. During Rohan’s wanderings and escapades, he comes across a dead woman, and the voice tells him to recognize the importance of being powerful and not becoming one of the weak. The voice tells Rohan he has the power inside of him that can be tapped and controlled in a way that brings him what he wants in life. This is a theme throughout the book – managing and using internal power.
Throughout the following chapters, the voice continues to guide Rohan as he learns to use his power in various circumstances. Is it for good or evil? As the story unfolds, Rohan discovers there is more than one voice. But who are they? Who will guide Rohan in the use of his gifts? Whom should he listen to? What does Rohan want? The voice is smooth and convincing at first, but it becomes intimidating over time as Rohan applies principles similar to those discussed in the book Winning Through Intimidation and defends himself against intimidation and manipulation.
This story moves through several incidents in Rohan’s life as a teenager where he hears the voice in his head telling him that he can be a lion and not a sheep. This voice recognizes that Rohan has traits that make him susceptible to the voice’s influence. These traits are like those discussed in the book Driven, including self-sabotage, shame and doubt. In the meantime, women continue to be killed by what is believed a serial killer.
Rohan Chang’s teen years were difficult because he rebelled against his parents, as many teenagers do, and felt belittled by his peers. But his rebellion put him in danger and destroyed feelings of peace when he took to the streets. He also worried incessantly about Amayah’s feelings for him. Rohan needed to learn how to do what the book Stop Worrying & Start Living recommends: conquer worry to find success.
The first voice he calls Nick the Brute is a jealous manipulative power that wants Rohan to respect and adore him and not put a God before him. The female voice called Hua warns Rohan against Nick and reminds him that he is special and full of light, setting the stage for an internal fight between good and evil. However, Rohan believes each voice gives him some good advice, making it more challenging to recognize manipulation for the wrong reasons. As the book Influence discusses, defending yourself against unethical influences is difficult. The fight for good and evil is the age-old conflict of God versus Satan.
Throughout the book are stories of time Rohan goes into what some could call a trance that teleports him into various situations. Time traveling with Amayah, there is a story of life on an 1854 cotton plantation, working side-by-side with enslaved people and another about 1980 in New York City where Amayah and Rohan work at a shelter and meet someone who teaches Rohan about faith and the Bible. These are topics he wants to know more about because Amayah is a Christian and because he is beginning to realize how evil can be disguised as good when the right words are spoken. Several chapters are about Rohan and Amayah’s search for Amayah’s parents, allowing Lee to share what life was like for new Puerto Rican immigrants in 1980. The author, at this point, weaves in speculation about a 1997 serial killer being inspired by the 1980 Son of Sam.
After leaving Amayah’s parents, Rohan and Amayah looked for Rohan’s parents in 1980, which was shortly after they arrived in America. Rohan learns about his parents’ sacrifices and struggles, giving him a new perspective on how they show love for each other, Rohan and his brother Henry and why his father is so strict. Upon returning to 1997 via teleporting, the serial killer storyline picks up again. Can Rohan use his power to end the senseless murders? Can he be a real-life superhero and catch Stacey, the serial killer? How does God fit into Rohan’s experiences?
This book is an interesting mix of reality, fantasy, Asian and Puerto Rican cultures and American life through several decades, history, time travel, romance, mysticism and murder mystery. It is even about mental attitude and how to find peace and happiness. Rohan Chang had to learn the lesson in the book The Happiness Advantage: happiness fuels success and not the other way around.
In the theater, the audience must often practice “suspension of disbelief.” This is a decision to set aside disbelief and accept the premise as real and possible. It works when the story creates its own believability and remains consistent. Lincoln Lee succeeds as the fantastical storyline begins early and remains consistent throughout the book, but he also shares what life was really like for Asians and Hispanics during various historical periods. But you have to suspend your disbelief when he talks about voices and human superpowers.
There are several literary conventions used in this book. This book is a fable in that it is a fictitious narrative with supernatural happenings and narration that presents truths about human existence. The author liberally uses the literary convention stream of consciousness throughout the book to keep the reader fully informed about Rohan’s thought processes so you understand the logic of why he acts as he does and how he comes to his conclusions.
At times, it is natural to wonder how the time travel stories and the voices will eventually be related to the story of the serial killer. Some passages in the book get a little tedious, but this reflects that deciding between good and evil is the product of multiple life experiences and is often difficult. The author clearly wants the reader to fully understand the internal struggle people go through in their lives and how each decision influences whether a person will become a champion for good or a force for evil. Though the book is in the Young Adult category, any age reader will enjoy this coming-of-age book because the lessons are universal.
Lincoln Lee was born in New York City. He spent many days in the Bronx and became interested in urban art. Many descriptions in the book In Search of Rohan Chang are based on his misspent youth, where he dealt with thugs and gangs. Lee eventually earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the City University of New York (CUNY). He then earned a doctorate degree in pharmacy from Long Island University. Lincoln Lee strongly advocates for increased awareness of the Asian American community and their numerous contributions throughout American history. These contributions include inventing the USB to YouTube. He is dedicated to increasing the awareness of Asian Americans because most of their accomplishments were never included in textbooks.
Though the book is in the Young Adult category, I recommend this book to any age reader who will enjoy this coming-of-age book because of the universal lessons learned and appreciated in the novel.
In Search of Rohan Chang is available on Amazon.