Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen

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Simon & Schuster UK, 2020. ISBN: 9781471192852.
(Age: 14+) Highly recommended for older readers, this coming of age contemporary romance is a delight to read. With strained family relationships, potential first love and new friendships, Loveboat, Taipei is a great read. Everett, Ever, Wong is living with a hidden dream. She dreams of dancing, not going into medicine as her parents plan for her future. It's her final year of school and she's got one last dance performance at the end of term, but her parents shock her with the news that they've enrolled her in an educational camp in their home country of Taiwan. Lacking the courage to fight her strict parents on their decision, Ever is off to Taiwan for Chinese Summer School, fearing the worst. She is pleasantly surprised to find it more of a party than a prison - called 'Loveboat' by the students. She learns to embrace her new found freedom, but will she find herself and her voice?
The story of an American born child of immigrant parents is not necessarily new, however this book deals with the complexities of relationships that children in this situation find themselves living with - parents who sacrifice everything for their children to have a better life, friends from different cultural backgrounds who can't understand the mentality that family expectations are everything, and the people who always have your back, no matter what. As Ever grows more daring through the book, finding her courage, I found myself expecting her to have the most amazing summer with her new friends, and found myself caring for her - despite her occasional bad choices . . . Fans of romance and coming of age stories will enjoy this book, as will readers who enjoy stories with cultural settings.
Themes: Coming of age, Parent/child relationships, Culture, Romantic relationships
Melanie Phillips