Revisits the family home of the Chen siblings in 1930's and 1940's Vancouver. Kiam-Kim tells how he arrived in Canada at age three with his widowed father and grandmother. As he matures under the tutelage of his tough-as-nails grandmother Poh-Poh, he faces down several challenges to his family position, and also makes friends with the Irish boy next door.
Follows Kiam-Kim as he learns the responsibilities and rewards of family and community, as he approaches adulthood in 1930s and 1940s Vancouver, a city much divided, as he faces decisions about what truly matters in life. More than anything else, the novel is an exploration of his character.
Three young Chinese immigrants to Canada share their stories about growing up as new Canadians. They discuss their family and the relationships among its members, as well as their own childhoods which vary depending on their gender and age.