You know that time when you ran away from home and went on a magical journey through China to find the Old Man of the Moon, and along the way met a talking dragon who can’t fly, a giant green tiger and a king? No? Really? Well, me neither. However, that’s exactly what happens to Minli in the novel Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin.
While her story might sound like a lot of fun, Minli still had some problems along the way – the biggest one being the entire reason for her journey; finding the Old Man of the Moon to change her family’s fortune with barely any guidance. The only thing she knows about where he is from a rumor, “They say he lives on top of Never-Ending Mountain” (Lin 24). Wow, sounds like some totally solid proof to base your hopes on and run away from home to find. Good thinking Minli! Who wouldn’t do that is for sure the only question you should be asking. Luckily, since this is all fiction it turns out the Old Man of the Moon not only is real, but also lives according to that rumor’s directions, and Minli manages to find him as well as a ‘borrowed line’ a talking goldfish told her she would need.
When Minli reached the Never-Ending Mountain, she realized, “The top of this mountain must reach the moon” (218), where the Old Man of the Moon is. Then, she decided to solve this by flying a kite up to him out of the two borrowed lines to get his attention (obviously, isn’t that what you would do too?). But a kite can’t fly all the way up to the moon right? You would think so, but then they realized…”It’s a thread of destiny. If we are destined to see the Old Man of the Moon, it will stretch to meet him” (220). Everything works out way too perfectly in this story; some conflict will have barely started when it’s already been resolved. Then, this ‘thread of destiny’, “…which was really now more like a thick silk rope – seemed to have divided itself into a long strange web, reinforced with bamboo stalks” (222). The string had transformed into a bridge. Minli, of course, did not bat an eye at all this and just headed straight up that bridge. When she got up there a talking rabbit (I am realizing there are a lot of talking animals in this story) led her to the Old Man of the Moon. However, there’s a catch: she can only ask one question. While you might think she can just ask how to change her family’s fortune, no problem, but she had promised the talking dragon to ask him why he can not fly. So, there’s a dilemma. But since she’s a good person and all that she chooses to be selfless and ask the dragon’s question instead of her own. Apparently this giant ball on the dragon’s head had been ‘weighing him down’ and once he took it off he would be able to fly. And then, since this story is such a cliche, through Minli doing this good deed she actually got what she wanted all along; turned out the ball on his head was a dragon’s pearl, which is worth the Emperor’s entire fortune. So in the end, once she got home, her family’s fortune actually did change. And they all lived happily ever after.
Everything worked out way too perfectly in this story; some conflict will have barely started when it’s already been resolved. All of this was hard to believe could be possible – I mean, I’ll accept all the magic and stuff but really? She was perfectly fine on her own even though she was about eleven and had absolutely no money? All in all, if you ignore the unbelievable bits, this story was actually pretty good, but more suitable for a younger audience.
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