Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
Pages: 464 pages
My Rating: 5 Stars
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
The Hate U Give is one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read, and I wanna beat myself up for not reading this when it came out but I just got really scared of the hype. With hyped books, it’s usually a hit or miss for me, and I didn’t want people to hate me if I didn’t like this one. But oh boy, I was so wrong because I love this book with all my heart. In fact, this is my first 5-star book of the year.
I actually just watched the trailer for this one the other day, and I had goosebumps the entire time. The Hate U Give is a book that everyone must either read, or watch at least once in their lives. It’s an amazing story about a young girl finding her voice, having solace in her family, standing up for herself, living through grief, learning to love, learning the reality of Black violence, along with all the things that come from being a teenager.
The story is beautifully written, and I definitely felt so much while reading it. It’s amazing how Angie Thomas was able to weave all these things together into one beautiful novel. The Hate U Give encompasses so much, and my heart truly connected with the characters in this one. They all felt very real to me, and I just had this urge to give Starr a big hug. Ugh, definitely a must-read!
5 eye-opening-and-life-changing stars
Title: Loveboat, Taipei
Author: Abigail Hing Wen
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: April 4th, 2017
My Rating: 4 Stars
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?
As a daughter of immigrant Chinese parents myself, I relate to this book in so many levels. When I was in high school, I also got sent to Taiwan for a study tour. The main difference was that I went willingly and with my friends, as opposed to Ever who didn’t like the idea. Being born in a different country and growing up with various influences, I also failed to love the part of me that is Chinese at a young age. Seeing Ever’s struggles, especially with her parents, I know that those are genuine because I have experienced the same things myself.
Loveboat, Taipei was an easy and cute read, but filled with so much substance and meaning. I loved all the friendships that formed within the novel, the easiness with which they all kind of related to each other. I really loved how I enjoyed even the minor characters, especially the boys who took Asian stereotypes into their own hands. I also loved the accurate Mandarin sentences in the novel, and I’m kind of proud that I understood them. (Take that, 13 years of Mandarin lessons!)
I really enjoyed reading this book, but I would have liked it better if it explored the culture and country more. I really wanted more details about tradition and a better description of the night markets and the amazing food because this book was in the position to do so. It had so much potential to educate others about our culture and it failed a little bit in that aspect for me. But then again, it might be a personal bias, because the main story was really well-written and relatable not only for those of Chinese descent, but for every teenager out there.
4 culturally-relatable stars