Frank Li is a Korean-American senior in high school who falls in love with a white girl in his class. Knowing his parents would never approve of her he concocts a scheme with another Korean-American girl in his class to pretend to date her in order to gain some freedom.
Frank is such an endearing character. He is always just trying to do what is best for everyone, kind of just keeping the status quo. He does question a lot of his parents’ thoughts and their racism towards anyone who isn’t Korean, but he never really challenges them until he is personally affected by it. I thought his plan was quite ingenious and it definitely worked in the long run.
Q just completely threw me off when we finally find out who he had a crush on. For some reason his character being gay just didn’t cross my mind at all but when we found out I was completely in my feels. It was a raw, honest moment and the way Frank handled it was kind and compassionate. Their friendship and banter felt very realistic to me and I am glad it wasn’t compromised when Q finally revealed his secret. His sister though wasn’t really necessary in the plot; I just don’t understand the purpose behind her character.
Even though Frank and Joy had known each other for years I still kind of feel like she moved on a little quickly from Wu. Frank kind of said even though all of the limbos hang out together they weren’t really friends so I thought it was a little strange that they were suddenly so close.
The plot was a little predictable at times but there were definitely some twists and turns thrown in to keep me engaged. I thought the pacing of the book was pretty steady; I finished it in less than a day so it was quite an easy read. The content I thought was super relatable and the cultural aspects added more depth to the storyline for sure!
⭐️4/5 stars frankly lovable!
Loveboat, Taipei is about an 18 year old Chinese American named Ever who just wants to dance. However, her very strict parents won’t hear of it and insist that she goes to school and becomes a doctor. They decided for the summer before college to send her to Taipei to study Mandarin. Little do they know this the program is actually an infamous teen meet-market nicknamed Loveboat, where the kids are more into clubbing than calligraphy and drinking snake-blood sake than touring sacred shrines.
I actually really enjoyed this book. I had a feeling after seeing the cover and reading the synopsis that I would enjoy this book and it was exactly what I had envisioned. It was a quick, entertaining, fun read full of mischief and antics.
Ever was a little too naïve at the start of the book for me. She really lets her parent’s walk all over her and won’t stand up for herself at all. I understand there are cultural differences and the expectations that Ever’s parents have put on her would have weighed her down over the years. I did appreciate transformation she undertakes over the course of the plot, where she finally finds her voice and passion and decides to pursue what she loves.
I found the romances progress a little too quickly. Ever definitely comes across as quite innocent and wholesome, so the fact that after only knowing these boys for a few weeks she makes the decision to sleep with them didn’t quite make sense to me. I think she mentions that she hasn’t even had a boyfriend before so it was just a little strange. Other than that detail I enjoyed the banter between them all. I mean it was a little bit predictable to be honest but the entertainment factor kept me from being too bothered!
I loved all of the culture that is interwoven with the plot. From all the different foods that Ever discovers and the nightlife over in Taipei as well as meeting all the other Chinese Americans and how they all differ. It definitely adds a layer of realism and depth to the story and I really enjoyed seeing these differences from Ever’s point of view.
⭐️4/5 stars Kind of like a YA version of Crazy Rich Asians
One Day in December is a contemporary novel about a girl named Laurie who is on a bus and makes eye contact with a boy waiting at a bus stop. She immediately felt a connection and since they didn’t get the chance to speak she’s been searching for him ever since. That is until he came back into her life in the most unexpected way.
I liked Laurie as our main protagonist. I found her a little too naïve at the start and a little boring to be honest but she did develop a more into a mature, direct character. Being put into this difficult situation I really think she did the best she could and tried to honour Sarah.
I liked the contrast between Laurie and Sarah. Sarah is a go getter and will do anything she needs in order to get what she wants; enjoying the spotlight and Laurie is more of a worrier, not wanting the spotlight preferring to be behind the scenes. We really see over the course of the plot how close they are and just how much Laurie values her as a sister.
Jack kind of got on my nerves a little. After his accident the way he treated Laurie and just how many missed opportunities he had to tell Laurie the truth. I think it started when he lied to her and said that he didn’t remember her from the bus stop. If only he had expressed how he really felt maybe they would have gotten together a lot sooner.
I thought this was a very wholesome read. It definitely covered some intense topics but overall I really thought it was a very entertaining story. It was fast paced and the format made it really engaging.
I just wanted a little more in terms of Laurie and Jack’s relationship. I think if we could have gotten more scenes of them actually together other than that pretty abrupt ending I may have liked it more. There was the build-up throughout the book about them eventually coming together and we don’t get any follow through. I was left feeling a little unfulfilled.
⭐️3.5/5 stars it was a nice holiday read!
Khai has no interest in dating or marriage so when his mum goes over to the Vietnam and brings a potential wife back to live with him for the summer he is outraged. Forced to cohabitate Khai starts to get used to the idea of Esme living with him and she is starting to see that he does have feelings after all.
I absolutely loved this story! It was a very fast paced, quick read for me that I finished in one sitting and I came out of it with just warm fuzzy feelings. I think the book really explored the cultural differences between the generations. Like how Khai’s mum is perfectly comfortable interviewing for potential wives for Khai and trying to push him to get married ASAP and how uncomfortable and resistant Khai and Quan are about the whole situation. Also Esme’s mum telling her to seduce Khai just to marry him quickly because he lives in America and is handsome.
I love how unique and interesting Khai’s character is. I thought his autism was represented very well throughout the course of the plot and his reactions to certain situations was consistent and felt real. The way he struggled to understand other people’s emotions when he processes things in a very different way was interesting to read. He felt like a truly well rounded character and his naivety and inexperience really endeared him to me. The whole conversation he had with Quan and Michael after his first time was super cute!
I had some mixed feelings about Esme throughout the course of the book. I was a little skeptical about her reasoning’s for accepting the deal in the first place and I can’t help but feel that she was intentionally trying to just seduce Khai at first without even attempting to get to know him. But as the story progressed I definitely warmed up to her as she started to dig into her own background and better herself whilst she was there; trying to find her father and going to back to school and getting her GED.
The whole concept for the story I found super entertaining and I just can’t help but think that this kind of situation really happens in real life; mothers pushing their sons to get married because everyone else in their families is getting married. I don’t know if they would go as far as to return to their home countries to pluck a random girl from a bathroom but that’s the beauty of fiction. I was highly entertained and engaged throughout the book and I can’t wait to see what Helen Hoang comes out with next!
⭐️5/5 stars Loved it!
Birthday is a story about two kids Morgan and Eric who are born on the same day and have made a pact with each other to spend every birthday together.
Eric and Morgan are both such complex characters. They are both very different from each other and have their own unique voice and it seems at times they might drift apart yet they work so hard to maintain their friendship in spite of the many obstacles that they have had to overcome.
Morgan’s journey throughout the storyline was everything! All of the anguish and denial and self-hatred and depression she had to deal with over the years culminating in an explosive scene that broke me only to claw her way out and finally express who she truly is to the two people who matter most in her life was beautiful. I loved everything about Morgan. There were times when I wanted to give her a hug and then there were times I was like what are you doing. Though I can’t fault any of those moments because it was her journey that she had to undertake and I definitely would not be able to relate so how would I know how I would react in the same situation you know…
I thought Eric was the perfect contrast to Morgan. His arc over the course of the book was a joy to read as well. We see him really struggle with the pressures that are put on him constantly, be it by his father or just the expectations of his peers, being the football star yet still being friends with Morgan. We see him kind of bow to these expectations a lot in the beginning of the story, wanting to just fit in and seem normal, giving up his guitar playing and blowing Morgan off to hang with the jocks and staying with his girlfriend even though he thinks she only likes him because of his pursuits on the field. Then in the latter years he really starts to see the error of this ways, especially when he sees how much Morgan is struggling.
I loved the unique format of the book; it really drew me in straight away. Just showcasing this one day a year allowed the story to really go into the minute details of Morgan and Eric’s life that I feel would be written out if it was a traditional novel. Going through their days and then when it ends knowing that there will be a whole year in the interim where so much can happen was keeping me highly invested and engaged in the story.
There are sooooooo many touching scenes in this book. So many profound moments that brought a tear to my eye, I absolutely loved this book! It was relatively short and was a pretty quick read, but I know it’s going to last with me for a very long time!
⭐️5/5 READ THIS BOOK!