My rating: red4

(4.25 stars, actually)

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Hello, lovely readers! It’s Monday (ughhhh…) but on the bright side, I have just finished an incredible book that I’m now  going to review! 😀 It’s called Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung. The book is coming out in the fall through Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random House Children’s), but it was actually published in Australia as Laurinda. Both titles are great because they get to the core problem of the novel, which is how Lucy is struggling with identity (social, racial and economical) during her first year at Laurinda, a wealthy private school.  The novel is structured in a format where Lucy writes to Linh about her time at Laurinda, while slowly leaving her friend behind.

In terms of plot problems, the beginning of the novel was the only place I had trouble keeping interest, due to it setting up the story. An example of this would be when they were describing the Cabinet (who are basically the Mean Girls of Laurinda) and how Lucy was fitting into her new school. However, there were still areas of the beginning that I loved, like reading about the scholarship test and how Lucy and her friends experienced it differently. Or when everyone found out that Lucy got the scholarship (that was kind of funny). But once a really major event happened, my interest in the book piqued even more. It caused me to think that the whole school was run on a cult mentality, with the Cabinet being the ones in power. Other than that slow beginning, I really got into the novel.

As a new student, Lucy is able to see what lies beneath Laurinda’s pretty exterior. While everyone else seems to bow down to the Cabinet, she notices that what they were doing to students and teachers alike is really wrong and wouldn’t be acceptable behaviour at her old school. Lucy had to learn that being educated and “cultured” didn’t translate to being nice. It doesn’t necessarily mean that she is immune to her surroundings, though. The more Lucy interacts with the Cabinet, the less she feels like herself. There were points within the novel where even I thought Lucy’s thoughts were suspect (and I was sucked into her perspective for the most part)… like when she said that maybe everyone was right about the Cabinet and that they’re really nice girls after all (*cringe*). Her letters to Linh were also starting to get really sad, where you could tell she was breaking off from Linh (who is an important part of her identity).

The main struggle of the story was Lucy trying to keep her home life and school life (as well as her two selves) separate. And that was when problems started to occur, with Lucy lying to save face and her slow regression from her former self. Reading Lucy’s nostalgia for an earlier and easier time was pretty easy because it was just so relatable. There are so many instances where I remember something and think “that was such a more peaceful time”. While Lucy is at Laurinda, she starts to compare her parents to those wealthy parents of Laurinda’s students, which results in her embarrassment of them. Luckily, Lucy learns a valuable lesson about her parents that allows her to appreciate them more.

There is so much to write about! But I feel like if I keep talking, I will never end this post (or probably reveal more than I should… 😉 ). I think that Alice Pung’s novel, Lucy and Linh, is really insightful in revealing how a person loses and finds their self and values again. That’s all I’m going to say, but if you have any questions about Lucy and Linh, I’d be happy to answer them in the Comments Section below. Have a nice day, everyone!

– Sumaya