Recommended: eh Maybe for a quick light read that won’t really linger, if you don’t know much about Taiwan you’ll get a small dose of history along with the YA drama and antics
When eighteen-year-old Ever Wong’s parents send her from Ohio to Taiwan to study Mandarin for the summer, she finds herself thrust among the very over-achieving kids her parents have always wanted her to be, including Rick Woo, the Yale-bound prodigy profiled in the Chinese newspapers since they were nine—and her parents’ yardstick for her never-measuring-up life.
Unbeknownst to her parents, however, 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.
Free for the first time, Ever sets out to break all her parents’ uber-strict rules—but how far can she go before she breaks her own heart?
This book wasn’t particularly mindblowing, but I guess I didn’t expect it to be with the word “Loveboat” in the title. I had to know there would be a little bit of cheese with this. xD Which is fine, and there definitely was. It was ok, and it read quickly so it’s not like I spent a lot of time of a middle of the road read.
Recommended: sure For others who forget that immigrants are not always American nor coming to America; for a culture blend of India, Uganda, and England; for a story of characters who are flawed and human, for unclear answers to legitimate problems. It’ll make you think, y’all.
1960s UGANDA. Hasan struggles to keep his family business afloat following the sudden death of his wife. As he begins to put his shattered life back together piece by piece, a new regime seizes power, and a wave of rising prejudice threatens to sweep away everything he has built.
Present-day LONDON. Sameer, a young high-flying lawyer, senses an emptiness in what he thought was the life of his dreams. Called back to his family home by an unexpected tragedy, Sameer begins to find the missing pieces of himself not in his future plans, but in a heritage he never knew.
Moving between two continents over a troubled century, We Are All Birds of Uganda is an immensely resonant novel that explores racial tensions, generational divides and what it means to belong.
Well I had to wait a month to get a copy of this book from across the country, and I’m glad it felt like it was worth the effort. There was so much in this. It’s roughly two parts, separated by geography or time depending on how you look at it.
What surprised me the most was how about a hundred pages in I realized I didn’t particularly like any of the main characters. They all carried traits that were hard to empathize about: ungrateful; uncompromising; unforgiving. And yet none were uninteresting! This is a story of flawed characters who are extraordinarily human.
Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is I Named My Dog Pushkinby Margarita Gokun Silver Expected Release: July 29, 2021
Why wait on this one?
The simplest thing that drew my attention is that it’s nonfiction. There’s certain nonfiction that I really love when I find it, and I’m hoping this will be one to add to the list.
I think I’ll love it because it’s a story of immigration and learning new cultures. I always go for those as I love hearing perspective’s different than my own, and Margarita’s perspective of a young adult in the 1980s is already pretty different. Then add in that she’s attempting to leave Soviet Russia with her family and get to America, and that’s quite a different story than my own. It’s one I’m definitely interested in hearing, as I haven’t read much by Russian immigrants and am not super familiar with the time.
3 I have to assume from the title and blurb that Margarita is telling her story with a bit of humour. There’s always some humour when you’re learning a whole new culture, and I appreciate when folks can slip some in around the colder difficulties that also come with immigration. I’m happy to learn and empathize, but I also do love a cheeky laugh at the harmless miscommunications and discoveries!
Fake an exit visa, fool the Soviet authorities, pack enough sausage to last through immigration, buy a one-way Aeroflot ticket, and the rest will sort itself out. That was the gist of every Soviet-Jewish immigrant’s plan in the 1980s, Margarita’s included. Despite her father’s protestations that they’d get caught and thrown into a gulag, she convinced her family to follow that plan.
When they arrived in the US, Margarita had a clearly defined objective – become fully American as soon as possible, and leave her Soviet past behind. But she soon learned that finding her new voice was harder than escaping the Soviet secret police.
She finds herself changing her name to fit in, disappointing her parents who expect her to become a doctor, a lawyer, an investment banker and a classical pianist – all at the same time, learning to date without hang-ups (there is no sex in the Soviet Union), parenting her own daughter ‘while too Russian’, and not being able to let go of old habits (never, ever throw anything away because you might use it again). Most importantly, she finds that no matter how hard you try not to become your parents, you end up just like them anyway.
Recommended: yup For an intersectional story, for a well done blend of poetry and prose, for a fictional-but-way-too-real look at how sexual assault affects not only the person attacked but so many others around them
Kiran is a young Punjabi Sikh woman who becomes pregnant after being sexually assaulted by her fiancé’s brother. When her fiancé and family don’t believe her, she flees her home in India to Canada, where she plans to raise the child as a single mother. For Kiran, living undocumented means constant anxiety over finances, work, safety, and whether she’ll be deported back to the dangers that await her in Punjab. Eighteen years later, Kiran’s daughter, Sahaara, is desperate to help her mother, who has been arrested and is facing deportation. In the aftermath, Kiran reveals the truth about Sahaara’s conception. Horrified, Sahaara encourages Kiran to speak out against the man who raped her—who’s now a popular political figure in Punjab. Sahaara must find the best way to support her mother while also dealing with the revelation about her parents.
Thoughts: I didn’t expect this to begin with Kiran as a kiddo, but that’s just what happened. What we get is a quite robust look at a life, from young Kiran to young adult Kiran to older Kiran as a mother. It switches to her daughter, Sahaara, as she grows up as well. I particularly loved the way Sahaara’s sections grew in stylistic complexity as she grew in age. In her early poetry entries, it’s simple rhyming couplets. It grows more complex, utilized different techniques and the abstract, and eventually turns to lengthier prose entries as well.
Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursdays, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! And although I haven’t posted a Fast Forward Friday actually on a Friday in a few weeks, I’m still excited enough to post these books because I cannot let them go unnoticed! Today’s is especially one I’ve been looking forward to for months, and it’s finally almost here: Love in English by Maria E Andreu! Expected Release: February 2, 2021
Why wait on this one?
I’m always in for stories of immigration and moving and characters who have to learn a new culture and/or figure out how to preserve their own. Ana moving from Argentina to New Jersey sounds like it will be ripe for those exact kinds of struggles. The kind where you learn a lot about yourself and the world (in a way that’s way less cheesy than I just made it sound).
Add in a focus on language and I’m even more in. Ana is a poet, and what poet isn’t a lover of language, with the attention to every facet that a poem requires? I’m really hoping we’ll see some beautiful portions of her poems in her native language, Spanish. And maybe that will blend with English, and maybe it won’t — either way, I’m happy to explore the world of words.
Ah, and of course, young love! I love love, y’all. Last night I had a dream about falling in love at first with my boyfriend all over again. I’m really into it. So when Ana gets to feel some feelings for a cute Greek boy, and a cute stereotypical-all-American boy, I’ll be riding right along with some popcorn. 🥰
Sixteen-year-old Ana has just moved to New Jersey from Argentina for her Junior year of high school. She’s a poet and a lover of language—except that now, she can barely understand what’s going on around her, let alone find the words to express how she feels in the language she’s expected to speak.
All Ana wants to do is go home—until she meets Harrison, the very cute, very American boy in her math class. And then there’s her new friend Neo, the Greek boy she’s partnered up with in ESL class, who she bonds with over the 80s teen movies they are assigned to watch for class (but later keep watching together for fun), and Altagracia, her artistic and Instagram-fabulous friend, who thankfully is fluent in Spanish and able to help her settle into American high school.
But is it possible that she’s becoming too American—as her father accuses—and what does it mean when her feelings for Harrison and Neo start to change? Ana will spend her year learning that the rules of English may be confounding, but there are no rules when it comes to love.
Recommended: sure For a light mystery but mostly a self-reflective journey of discovery, for mouthwatering descriptions of tasty Korean dishes, for some very poignant moments of insight into one woman’s extremely difficult life
Summary: Margot Lee’s mother, Mina, isn’t returning her calls. It’s a mystery to twenty-six-year-old Margot, until she visits her childhood apartment in Koreatown, LA, and finds that her mother has suspiciously died. The discovery sends Margot digging through the past, unraveling the tenuous invisible strings that held together her single mother’s life as a Korean War orphan and an undocumented immigrant, only to realize how little she truly knew about her mother. Interwoven with Margot’s present-day search is Mina’s story of her first year in Los Angeles as she navigates the promises and perils of the American myth of reinvention. While she’s barely earning a living by stocking shelves at a Korean grocery store, the last thing Mina ever expects is to fall in love. But that love story sets in motion a series of events that have consequences for years to come, leading up to the truth of what happened the night of her death.
Thoughts: The story itself is a slower pace as you learn about Mina and Margot in their past and present. I loved the subtle intertwining of the two. The reflections of Mina’s past experiences in Margot’s present as she investigates her mother’s death linked them together in a beautiful way. The highlight here is the writing itself, as it’s very plain and unassuming yet conveys so much emotion.
This is going to be one I recommend to basically everyone. 🥰
Recommended:yeeeeeeeesssssssss!!!!!!!!!! for a lovable lot of characters, for a story that has a lot of elements to it, for a wide variety of situations
Summary: After fleeing crumbling, volatile Venezuela, Yola Palacio wants nothing more than to settle into a peaceful new life in Trinidad with her family. And who cares if they’re there illegally—aren’t most of the people on the island? But life for the Palacios is far from quiet—and when Yola’s Aunt Celia dies, the family once again find their lives turned upside down. For Celia had been keeping a very big secret—she owed a LOT of money to a local criminal called Ugly. And without the funds to pay him off, Ugly has the entire family do his bidding until Celia’s debt is settled. What Ugly says, the Palacios do, otherwise the circumstances are too dreadful to imagine.
To say that the year that follows is tumultuous for the Palacios is an understatement. But in the midst of the turmoil appears Roman—Ugly’s distractingly gorgeous right-hand man. And although she knows it’s terrible and quite possibly dangerous, Yola just can’t help but give in to the attraction. Where, though, do Roman’s loyalties lie? And could this wildly inappropriate romance just be the antidote to a terrible year of Ugly?
Thoughts: I saw this book’s synopsis and thought I would probably love it, and yup, I was right. 😍
What I loved The setting in Trinidadwas an quick obvious draw for me, because I don’t know much of anything about it. Well, now I do! Like the fact that there’s the largest natural tar deposit in the world there, and also that they have notoriously poorly paved roads because they export all their tar. 😂 The little tour around the island on Yola and Roman’s excursions were a perfect way to introduce readers to the area.
I’ve seen this wonderful idea on instagram, that I don’t have enough physical books to participate in myself anymore. The idea is to take a look through your books and create a poem from the titles you have. I LOVE that, but alas, moving so often means I’ve had to cut down my physical collection.
But I’m adaptable! So instead, I’ve pored through some of the book I have listed on Goodreads to create a poem. It actually ended up holding a good deal of meaning for me, so here’s what I got on my first attempt!
They called us enemy Run away New kid This is my America A love hate thing