During the first half of the week, I read Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok to fulfill category #9, A Book by a Female Author.
Mambo in Chinatown revolves around the protagonist, Charlie, a 22 year-old, American Born Chinese (ABC) living in Chinatown with her 11 year old sister and her widower father. It follows her story of discovery as she transitions from a career as a clumsy dishwasher at a restaurant where her father makes noodles to a professional ballroom dancer specializing in the Latin style. Naturally, to add to the drama, she feels she can’t tell her father about her newly chosen profession and she comes to be attracted to her non-Asian dancing partner (who, of course, has a long-distance girlfriend), so she spends the entirety of the book hiding it from him.
Meanwhile, her younger sisters health is slowly declining, but her traditional father refuses to utilize the advances of Western (i.e. modern) medicine owing to the exorbitant fees the family was hit with when their mother was taken to the ER before she died.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not one of the most insightful people. When I’m in a group, I don’t usually pick up on the social cues that others might spot immediately. In fact, I’ve pretty much run my life under the assumption that if something is worth saying, come on out and say it…because I won’t pick up on undertones.
This book, however, spend over 150 pages talking about what could be wrong with Charlie’s little sister, Lisa. I picked up on it after about 5 pages. It was obvious what had happened. I tried to suspend belief a little bit, in order to follow the natural progress of the story…but there were definitely times when I was nearly screaming obscenities at the book due to how obvious the issue was.
I wish I could say that I read till the end of the book simply for validation regarding my hypothesis. That lie would at least give me justification for finishing it as quickly as I did. But alas, it truly isn’t so. I continued to enjoy the book, despite knowing the inevitable outcome of Lisa’s health concerns with the simple base urge of I actually want to finish this book.
This book is not a happy-go-lucky joyful read. If you want to escape from reality while sipping piña coladas on a beach somewhere, this isn’t the book for you. But if you want an engaging and realistic read, you just might want to pick it up.
For my next trick, I’ll be reading Home: A Memoir of my Early Years by Julie Andrews to fulfill #26, A Memoir.
The story of Julie Andrews’ life up until 1963, when she left England for Hollywood to shoot Mary Poppins and is intended as part one of a two-part memoir. While it includes dark childhood memories of surviving the London Blitz and attempts by her step-father Ted Andrews to molest her, the book overall presents a happy vision of Andrews’ childhood. – Wikipedia
I’ll keep you posted.