Goodreads: The Boy Who Became a Dragon
Published: February 2020
This fictionalized biography of Bruce Lee follows him from his childhood as he is inspired to act and to learn martial arts.
The Boy Who Became a Dragon is a fictionalized biography of Bruce Lee that attempts to explore how his childhood, experiencing hardship and oppression, shaped his life. Readers looking for an in-depth and factual account of Lee’s life that delves into his adulthood as well will likely be disappointed. However, readers simply looking to learn more about Lee in general will possibly enjoy the book for what it is: an attempt to inspire people to learn more about him.
The Boy Who Became a Dragon is clearly a work of love, created by someone who greatly admires Lee and wants others to share his enthusiasm. It tries appeal to teen and tween readers with its mystical elements, showing how the dragon followed Lee throughout his life, shaping him into the man he ultimately became. Lee’s desire to fight–and his somewhat rough childhood scrapping on the streets–is contrasted with the balance and control he later found through training in the martial arts. Generally, the author tries to add drama and excitement where he can.
Unfortunately, Jim Di Bartolo does not admit until the Author’s Note at the end that the biography is fictionalized, and that he had to fill in gaps. This was disappointing, as his story had made me greatly interested in Lee, and I assumed I was reading a book that was largely correct in facts, even if parts had been dramatized. I think that this Author’s Note should precede the story, so readers understand more fully that the book is not necessarily accurate.
However, I think the main point of The Boy Who Became a Dragon is really to share Di Bartolo’s love for Bruce Lee and his works. Readers may be inspired by it to watch Lee’s films or to find books factual books written on Lee’s life. And I imagine Di Bartolo would consider that a win.