DISCLAIMER: I want to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to Anderson Press who reached out to me and asked me to review Chinglish. I am honoured to have been given the opportunity.
“How do you explain you don’t speak Chinese when you parents are Chinese, you look Chinese and you live in a Chinese takeaway?!”
It is difficult trying to talk in our family cos:
a) Grandparents don’t speak English at all
b) Mum hardly speaks any English
c) Me, Bonny and Simon hardly speak Chinese
d) Dad speaks Chinese and good English – but doesn’t like talking
In other words, we all have to cobble together tiny bits of English and Chinese into a rubbish new language I call ‘Chinglish’. It is very awkward.
Jo Kwan is a teenager growing up in 1980s Coventry with her annoying little sister, too-cool older brother, a series of very unlucky pets and utterly bonkers parents. But unlike the other kids at her new school or her posh cousins, Jo lives above her parents’ Chinese takeaway. And things can be tough – whether it’s unruly customers or the snotty popular girls who bully Jo for being different. Even when she does find a BFF who actually likes Jo for herself, she still has to contend with her erratic dad’s behaviour. All Jo dreams of is breaking free and forging a career as an artist.
Told in diary entries and doodles, Jo’s brilliantly funny observations about life, family and char siu make for a searingly honest portrayal of life on the other side of the takeaway counter.
When I was asked if I wanted an advanced reading copy of this book for review I knew I needed to get my hands on it. Instantly the synopsis drew me, I thought that it would be a great light hearted and funny book .. something I definitely need in my life.
Chinglish succeeded in making me laugh. I absolutely loved Jo, I thought she was hilarious. I felt such a connection with her character and really felt like I was on the emotional rollercoaster she calls life with her. Whilst it made me laugh, I also liked the way that Sue explored important topics that were key for the YA audience. She knew when to have a joke but also when to reach out and make a connection with the audience in relation to key topics. Topics such as diversity, child abuse, domestic violence and bullying to name a few.
I found this book really easy to read which is another reason I enjoyed my time reading it. The fact that it is written in a diary form really helped with this, I enjoyed the format and definitely found it difficult to put down. Another unique YA technique that I found great in this book was the use of illustrations and diagrams. This really helped me to stay engaged with the book and most of the illustrations made me laugh. I really looked forward to the next one throughout.
This book portrayed certain messages that I believe are so important for its target audience. I feel like it teaches teenagers that it is okay to be who you are, that you should not change and embrace the differences between you and your peers. Another important message is to always follow your dreams. Don’t let anybody tell you you can’t do something, if you have your heart set on something .. go for it and if you fail .. go for it again.
Overall, I did enjoy my time reading this book and I am glad that I got the opportunity to read it. This book is released in September 2019 and I would recommend that you pick this book up!