Saturday, August 13, 2011

Review: Bitter Melon by Cara Chow

Title: Bitter Melon
Author: Cara Chow
Release Date: December 28, 2010
Publisher: Egmont USA
Source: Library
Frances, a Chinese-American student at an academically competitive school in San Francisco, has always had it drilled into her to be obedient to her mother and to be a straight-A student so that she can go to Med school. But is being a doctor what she wants? It has never even occurred to Frances to question her own feelings and desires until she accidentally winds up in speech class and finds herself with a hidden talent. Does she dare to challenge the mother who has sacrificed everything for her? Set in the 1980s.
Review: Reviewing this book will be extremely hard. I just don’t know how to review it. I liked some aspects of this book while I hated other parts of it. There were times when I felt that I wanted to throw this book across the room because I was so frustrated with it. I’m not even sure if I liked it or not. Honestly, I’m not sure of anything about this book.

Frances is a Chinese-American girl who lives with her verbally abusive mother, trying to live up to her mother’s standards of what a good Chinese girl should be. All her life, Frances had to live with her mother telling her how she wasn’t good enough or as good as someone else. When Frances steps into a speech class though, her life changes forever. She takes a chance and doesn’t change her schedule (to calculus because her mother said there was no other way she was getting into Berkeley). To me, Frances was in a tough spot. What could she do when the only person in her life told her she was no good? I was happy that Frances found speech. It made her free and introduced her to the world, or rather, what the world could be. I didn’t always like Frances. I think the problem was that she wanted to go against her mother but she never told her to…stop. Or defend herself against all the things her mother said to her. In another way, I understood why Frances was the way she was. I’m Asian and in a way, most people in the world consider Japanese or Chinese as Asians. I’m from India and in many times, people didn’t realize that India was in Asian. SO my point it, a lot of Asians (no matter what country your from) have similar family traditions. In most Asian families, respect to elder is very, very important. I’ve seen Asian parents act like Frances’ mom (but NEVER at that extent) and I think that’s why I was so frustrated. As an Asian kid, I’ve still not figured out Asian families.

While I liked Frances for most of the time, I wanted Frances to be stronger and braver, like she was in the ending of the book. I’m also a huge fan of romance in any book so a little more of her crush (and can I say boyfriend?) would have been awesome. Overall, Bitter Melon, Cara Chow’s debut book was touching, incredible, brutally honest and to me, something I could relate to (but NOT in the extreme way with Frances’ mom!

Overall: 4/5
Cover Comments: 5/5—Therearen’t enough diverse books out there! I love having a beautiful Asian girldominating this cover! Her pose, the hair, and her expression really fit the book!

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