At each new school she attended, McLain brought her lunch to the one place where she knew she would find a kindred spirit: the library. “We moved so much, I didn’t feel it was safe to make friends with actual kids,” she said, “so I always made friends with librarians. And then I made friends with books.”
People have always told me not to change my name. Some insisted that they liked it: Bich, a Vietnamese name, given to me in Saigon, where I was born and where the name is quite ordinary. When my family named me, they didn’t know that we would become refugees eight months later and that I would grow up in Michigan in the nineteen-eighties, in the conservative, mostly white, west side of the state, where girls had names like Jennifer, Amy, and Stacy. A name like Bich (pronounced “Bic”) didn’t just make me stand out—it made me miserably visible. “Your name is what?” people would ask. “How do you spell that?” Sometimes they would laugh in my face. “You know what your name looks like, right? Did your parents really name you that?”
For amid the lurid colour and the grand theoretical gestures is a poignant story of friendship and isolation, of human connections made and lost. There’s something interesting growing in all that filth.
Open arms gathering all so wide to hold everyone horizontally growing, this way, flat in this way capturing each