Ernest Young clings to his mother’s hairpin, the only remnant he has to remind him of his mother who has given him away.He endures a horrific boat ride to America where he finds himself bounced from the poor house to a boarding school and eventually “the prize” in a raffle at the World’s Fair. It sounds so sad and it is, but Ernest is someone who makes lemonade out of lemons (and he has plenty of lemons).
He is only twelve years old, when he realizes that once again his life is in jeopardy as the winning raffle ticket number is called out at the fair. He had lost hope in being adopted long ago and felt he wasn’t Chinese or White enough to be wanted by either group. He is told “the raffle winner is taking you home with them.” This is a wonderful story about loss, morality, self-identity and survival. The dual story line follows Ernest from a young boy to an older adult.