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Sue's Reading Corner

where YA books are reviewed

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Realistic YA

ARC Review: American Panda by Gloria Chao

Summary

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

Sourced for Goodreads

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Review

My rating:

blue4-5

Hi, everyone! Another day, another review! I’m really excited to talk about today’s book, though, which is American Panda by Gloria Chao! I remember being excited for this book as soon as I saw the announcement on Twitter last year! It just sounded so good! Now, I’ll be honest; I tried to keep my expectations low so I’d enjoy it, as that worked the last time I read a book. But I just couldn’t! It’s okay this time around, though, because the reading experience was amazing! 🙂

First of all, I really liked Mei as the main character. I believe that her voice made this book what it is. I really got a chance to relate to her as well, with her whole “going-off-to-college” experience. You rarely have YA go in that path (what characters are usually thinking about is getting to college, but rarely is their experience fully viewed). In fact, the only YA books I can think of with a college setting are We are Still Tornadoes and I Hate Everyone But You. It was that experience of discovering what you want to pursue, going to lectures, tests and whatnot that I enjoyed reading about. That and seeing how she handles it while balancing expectations from her parents in upholding her end of the bargain by becoming a doctor. I totally got that since at one point in my life, I was influenced into becoming a doctor and selecting my courses and major because of it. I understood exactly what Mei was going through, which is probably another reason of why I ate this novel up!

I also like how this story had a nice balance of humour and seriousness to it. All throughout, you’d get these fleshed out characters who you want to see more of! With the progression of the novel, the characters developed alongside until it was over and I was sad to leave them behind. The only character I actually didn’t want to see fleshed out was Eugene, a potential suitor for Mei. Shocking, I know! I’m usually complaining about the fact that a character isn’t developed enough and here I am wanting this character to remain flat. It’s just that I didn’t think that Eugene’s presence benefited the story’s plot in any way. You could leave his minor appearance out and it would still be the same. It was the idea of Eugene and arranged marriages in general that actually mattered to the plot.

Well, those are my thoughts on American Panda by Gloria Chao. I really liked it and I would recommend this book to anyone looking in the Contemporary sphere! If you have any questions about this book, feel free to leave them in the Comments Section below. And for those of you who are interested. American Panda comes out on February 6th, 2018!

Thanks for reading, everyone!

–  Sumaya

I received an advance reader’s copy from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Summary

Boy meets girl. Girl changes everything.

Michael likes to hang out with his friends and play with the latest graphic design software. His parents drag him to rallies held by their anti-immigrant group, which rails against the tide of refugees flooding the country. And it all makes sense to Michael.

Until Mina, a beautiful girl from the other side of the protest lines, shows up at his school, and turns out to be funny, smart—and a Muslim refugee from Afghanistan. Suddenly, his parents’ politics seem much more complicated.

Mina has had a long and dangerous journey fleeing her besieged home in Afghanistan, and now faces a frigid reception at her new prep school, where she is on scholarship. As tensions rise, lines are drawn. Michael has to decide where he stands. Mina has to protect herself and her family. Both have to choose what they want their world to look like.

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Review

My rating:

 black4

(4.25 stars)

Hi, everyone! Another day, another book read, this one being The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah. Now when I first heard about this book, it was just in the Australian version When Michael Met Mina, which sounds nice and all, except for the fact that I couldn’t access it in Canada, through a retailer or the library… But when I finally saw the US version, I was thoroughly excited. Randa Abdel-Fattah is one of my favourite authors of all time, right from Does My Head Look Big in This and Ten Things I Hate About Me. And I adored her other novels like Where the Streets Had a Name and No Sex in the City. So to say I had really high expectations for this book would be understating things. Thankfully, I finally got a chance to read and love this book!

I’ve got to say that Randa Abdel-Fattah handled the political side of her novel really well. There were such similarities to what we see in Western culture that we can’t help but relate to the concerns of the novel. It’s like Michael says in the novel, the scariest thing about his parents is not that their evil, but that they’re nice,  too. It’s hard to think that your parents are wrong on anything, especially when they’re the kind that take care of you, and always look out for your best interest. It still made me really, really angry though, hearing their arguments and validating others to be treated poorly. But at the end of the day, Michael knows that he has to make a decision on what he stands for and whether everything he has been taught was wrong. Also, I really liked how Mina was portrayed in the novel, how she could make me both laugh at one moment with her wit, and cry the next at all the horrors she had to witness to get to where she is today. Within the novel, Mina and her family are trying their best to belong to a society that wants little to do with her because they has no other choice. There is so much truth in this novel, about love, hate, hope, loss, and those incredible moments of happiness in between that make it worth reading.

The reason why I give this novel a 4.25 star rating instead of a 4.5 star rating or even a five star one is the romance part of the novel. Not that it wasn’t cute and all, but I felt as if there was something unresolved about it by the end of the novel. How it ends makes sense in terms of the mood of the book’s ending, but at the same time, I was curious to see how it would play out given a little more time, that’s all. That’s probably just my own personal opinion though, as I think most people would just find the couple to be cute together! Plus, some of the secondary characters felt less fleshed-out than they could have been. Don’t get me wrong; there are some secondary characters within the novel that have a three-dimensional quality to them, and I understand that not all characters can be given such treatment. Still, I wondered about the mother’s friends that we never get to see, but just hear about, or Mina’s older friends that only appear once within the novel, and a few times via communication or memories. I guess I liked what I heard about them so much that I wanted to see more of them! 😉

Well, that’s all I have to say about The Lines We Cross for now! Do I recommend it for everyone, especially those looking for realistic fiction? Yes! So what are you waiting for? Go read it now! By the way, feel free to leave any thoughts or questions you might have in the Comments Section below. Thanks for reading, everyone!

–  Sumaya

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