Shining Star

By Publishers Weekly

Lin Wang’s (A Single Red Thread) elegant paintings in muted hues capture the actress’s emotions in her expressive eyes framed by dark bangs. Full-page spreads showcase her stylish garb—snazzy flapper attire or traditional Chinese dress—and her early-20th-century surroundings. The conversational narrative uses many descriptive vignettes from her life (e.g., a girlhood visit to the movie theater, a trip to China) to briskly move the story from her youth to her early movie career. Peppered throughout are examples of the racism she experienced (“Movie studios forbade actors and actresses of color to kiss their white costars”). Always countering these are Anna May’s responses, at first her strong feelings and, later, her decision to only portray roles that didn’t denigrate Chinese-Americans. A fascinating account of the life of a determined actress.