Connor (Zishi) Ding

Scar Siblings

Mentor: Elizabeth Saur

“Scar Siblings” is a novella about Holden and Phoebe, a brother and sister, during the twelve days of August – September 2020, the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Both Holden and Phoebe are Chinese international students who got their anglicized names from J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, the favorite novel of their America-loving father. With a strong passion for humanistic subjects, Holden, a rising third-year student at UCSB, enrolls in several literature classes, during one of which he rereads and reimagines The Catcher in the Rye. Phoebe, on the other hand, is teaching herself multivariable calculus as a headstart for her degree in electrical engineering. The siblings’ decisions to pursue their own interests directly conflict with their parents’ expectations. Feeling the parental pressure, Holden and Phoebe feel the angst of insisting upon their dreams but eventually respond through the tried patterns of evasion and silence. Centering on Holden and Phoebe’s conversations about their lives, tragedies, failures, and hopes that parallel those of The Catcher in the Rye, “Scar Siblings” addresses the questions that Phoebe and Holden struggle to answer: Should one live a life for oneself or for others? To what extent is one obligated to care about others’ problems? And, how does one respond to the gender and racial bias they increasingly face?

Read Connor’s novella Scar Siblings