Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
From tea eggs to snake blood sake, the energy of Taipei in the summer provides a winning backdrop to this joyful debut about a young American dancer who finds love and freedom by exploring her Taiwanese roots. By the time Ever Wong's conservative immigrant parents send her to Taiwan for a summer of cultural immersion, she has abandoned her dreams of Broadway for a career in medicine. What she finds instead is the friendship of glamorous Manhattanite Sophie Ha and the romantic attentions of both mercurial prodigy Rick Woo and playboy heir Xavier Yeh. While navigating humid nightclub rendezvous, terrible mistakes, and barely passed Mandarin lessons, Ever gloriously sheds her shame and insecurity and finds the courage to own her choices. Wen deftly conveys the less-explored experience of being an Asian-American in Asia and, importantly, her characters embody the diversity within Asian-American identity. Sobering subjects, including animal abuse and mental health challenges, add additional layers to the heady summer story, but Wen keeps the strongest focus on her characters' freedom and evolution as they grow secure in their identities and desires. Ages 13--up. (Jan.)
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Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up--Ever Wong is waiting to hear back from colleges and decide where her life will lead. Like many teenagers, the path she dreams of is not the same as the one her parents have in mind. She longs to dance while her parents expect her to attend medical school, for which they have been grooming her since birth, and it doesn't seem to matter that the sight of blood makes her faint. When she is forced to leave Ohio and study abroad in Taipei, Ever is devastated. Once again, her parents are deciding her future without her involvement, and dancing is looking more and more like an impossibility. However, Ever learns from the other students that this educational experience is really a chance for teens to live without rules and experiment with love, and it may not be as bad as she anticipated. For a girl who has lived by her parents' strict rules, this freedom is refreshing and exciting. Wen creates a relatable story line for teens discovering who they really are and want to be. The author does a great job of immersing readers in the sights and sounds of Taipei, and she illustrates the culture through scenes of gatherings with friends and Ever's interactions with locals in the city. VERDICT YA readers will love the mix of romance, defiance, adventure, culture, and friendship.--Jessica Perovich, US Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit Library
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
A sheltered teen with a passion for dance finds love, drama, and herself at a summer camp in Taiwan.Eighteen-year-old Everett "Ever" Wong braces herself for a summer of curfews and vocabulary lessons after her parents reveal that they signed her up for a Mandarin language and Chinese culture program. But upon arriving at Chien Tan, Ever quickly discovers how the program earned its nickname, Loveboat. As her new roommate, Sophie, says, "Ever, you are never going to meet this many eligible guys in one place." Ever seizes this opportunity away from her strict parents to experience a slew of forbidden activities, from sneaking out at night with other campers for illicit clubbing to taking classes at a local ballet studio. Complications arise when she unintentionally stumbles into a love quadrangle involving bad boy Xavier, handsome prodigy Rick, and glamorous Sophie. The novel evokes the style of bingeworthy Taiwanese TV dramas, complete with dramatic plot developments and characterizations that occasionally toe the line between exaggeration and caricature. Between hookups, glamour photo shoots, and camp classes, Wen addresses a number of hot-button issues for many Asian Americans, the foremost being the struggle to reconcile immigrant parents' expectations with personal aspirations. Characters are predominantly Chinese American; a secondary character is Indigenous Taiwanese.An entertaining and heartfelt debut that takes readers on a roller-coaster ride of romance and self-discovery. (author's note) (Fiction. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.