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Title : Loveboat, Taipei
Author : Abigail Hing Wen
Genre : YA contemporary
Release Date : January 7th, 2020
Publisher : HarperCollins
For fans of Crazy Rich Asians or Jane Austen Comedy of Manners, with a hint of La La Land
When eighteen-year-old Ever Wong’s parents send her from Ohio to Taiwan to study Mandarin for the summer, she finds herself thrust among the very over-achieving kids her parents have always wanted her to be, including Rick Woo, the Yale-bound prodigy profiled in the Chinese newspapers since they were nine—and her parents’ yardstick for her never-measuring-up life.
Unbeknownst to her parents, however, the program is actually an infamous teen meet-market nicknamed Loveboat, where the kids are more into clubbing than calligraphy and drinking snake-blood sake than touring sacred shrines.
Free for the first time, Ever sets out to break all her parents’ uber-strict rules—but how far can she go before she breaks her own heart?
The first thing that catch my eyes from Loveboat, Taipei, is the cover. Isn’t it gorgeous? It’s not everyday that you got to see an East Asian girl–with the Taipei’s city lights as the backdrop (or so I assumed). The second is, of course, the summary itself. I mean, hello, going to Taiwan with other teenagers and without parental supervision? Sounds like all hell’s gonna loose, and I’m definitely in for it. But Loveboat, Taipei, isn’t just a journey-in-Taiwan story. It’s also a journey toward cultures, one that’s part of our upbringing but forgotten, and how one’s gonna rekindling it.
Ever Wong is an 18 years old girl from Ohio, and her parents dream for her to become a doctor. Ever herself want to become a dancer, but that’s not a viable career option in the Wong’s household. From this point, I could already relate to Ever. My parents might not be as strict as her, but they definitely have some say in my college’s major. Not just me, but I believe that lots of Asian kids have had experience in parents-deciding-something-for-them, be it a big or small things. When Ever was sent to Taiwan to participate in the Loveboat program, she wasn’t thrilled since she planned to dance all summer before heading to med school. But free for the first time from her parents, Ever’s determined to break all her parent’s rules–from dress like a nun to no boys. And she did break it all, but along the way, she also found herself and what she actually want.
Above, I mentioned that Loveboat, Taipei is also a journey toward culture acceptance. As a Chinese-American, Ever often feel like she didn’t belong in America, but she’s also not Chinese enough to be actual Chinese. As a Chinese-Indonesian, I really feel that. Although I’m lucky that I at least still live in Asia so some of the cultures are similar, I’m still a minorities here. I’ve had my share of prejudice and racism. But also, I didn’t feel Chinese enough to live in China. This book explore the feeling of torn between two cultures and two countries and the journey toward accepting it, until Ever (and me, as the reader) ends up appreciating our East Asian culture better.
While Loveboat, Taipei isn’t romance-heavy, it still has a love triangle between Ever and two boys. For once, I actually didn’t mind the love-triangle in it, since it’s more focused toward Ever’s friendship with both boys, and the romantic relationship didn’t happen until much later in the book. And don’t worry, both romance has its own chemistry, but to tell you guys the truth, i’m kinda leaning more toward the other boy (aka the boy-who-didn’t-end-up-with-Ever). But still, the boy-who-ends-up-with-Ever is pretty swoon-worthy too! Another thing that I love from this book is the friendships. Throughout the Loveboat program, Ever made some friends, and while there’s obstacles in the way, I’m glad it ends up the way it did.
In conclusion, Loveboat, Taipei is a coming-of-age story about figuring yourself and figuring what you want in life. I honestly wish I had this book before I went to college, but what’s past is past, and all I can do now is figuring what I want to do in life and try pursuing it. If you haven’t read this book, I definitely recommend it!
“And as I lunge and whirl my bo staff, dancing to the ancient drum beats, I feel all the parts of myself coming together: glad that a part of me is Chinese, a part of me American, and all of me is simply me”