Thursday, 23 July 2015
"Mambo in Chinatown" by Jean Kwok
It seems to me that first novels are often the best. Perhaps the ideas for the novel have been percolating for years when that book finally gets written. But then does the publisher give advances and deadlines? Maybe the author only has the 'makings' of one good book- like Harper Lee ( I am reading that new controversial book next!)
Because I loved "Girl in Translation", I wanted to read Jean Kwok's new book. There were some themes that were similar to the first book, but I did not enjoy this book as much.
Once again, it was about a family that had immigrated to the U.S. from China. This time, the mother had died and the father was raising two daughters. Charlie, 22, had a lucky break when she got a job in a dance studio. It was discovered that she had talent for dancing and she became a dancing teacher and also entered a competition. Most of the book described in detail the techniques of ballroom dancing. It became tedious and lacking in plot.
I still appreciated the conflict that Chinese immigrants feel, when they are in a new culture. The older generation wants to continue Eastern traditions, but their children want to adapt to the American ways. Because the younger sister, Lisa, 11, had severe physical problems, this book also includes a lot of Eastern medicine that was quite unusual. Western medicine was feared and impossibly expensive.
In some ways it was a Cinderella story.
Not great, but still enjoyable.