I’m crying, y’all. To be accepted for this blog tour – to be accepted to read this book early in general – has me in tears because I have been so excited to read this and tell you my thoughts on it. You probably saw my “mini review” on this book last year with Afire Pages, and I ended up rereading this book for this blog tour because I just had to experience Loveboat all over again. Seriously, I’m crying happy tears and have been all while reading this book and writing this post.
As usual, click on the banner for more info and the tour schedule, and enjoy the happy tears with me.
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?
Abigail was born in West Virginia to a family of immigrants: Her mother is from the Philippines and her father from Indonesia, and her grandparents emigrated to those countries from Fujian and Shandong provinces in China.
Abigail grew up in Ohio and graduated from Harvard University and Columbia Law School. She worked in Washington DC for the Senate, as a law clerk for a federal judge. and now in Silicon Valley in venture capital and artificial intelligence. She also earned her Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts.
In her spare time, she enjoys long walks with her husband and two boys, and hanging out with friends and over 100 family members in the Bay Area. She loves music and dances to it when no one is watching.
Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Edelweiss, Fantastic Flying Book Club, and HarperTeen for this free copy.
I feel like this is one of the hardest reviews to write because of how personal this book is to me. Because of how much I felt represented in this book without expecting it, and just feeling so seen and so heard because of this novel.
From the very beginning of this novel, I couldn’t help but see aspects of my life reflected in Ever’s life. The rejection letters from various colleges, the pressure of being what your parents what you to be, doing something that is supposed to be honorable and worthwhile, like being a doctor or a lawyer or something like that, rather than doing something that you love and are passionate about. Being shamed for being sexualized at a young age for something that isn’t your fault. Having grown adults tell you that YOU should be ashamed for showing your legs, showing skin, sitting a certain way that may make people look at you a certain way. Having these strict rules ingrained in you from a young age that you can’t even imagine yourself breaking them as a young adult, a teenager, even a full blown adult. Having to spend your summers going to additional school or additional extracurricular activities because you’re not allowed to “waste time” not learning something when school isn’t happening.
I could go on and on, and I’m probably talking more about myself than about the book right now but there were so many things that I was like “yep, I had to do that. Yep, I’ve done that. Yep, I feel you Ever.” Just all throughout this book I could relate to so much of both Ever’s thoughts and then her classmates in Chien Tan.
Oh man, when Ever has to learn Mandarin being fully immersed in Chien Tan and feeling completely helpless because she couldn’t fully understand? I felt that when I went to Chinese Language Immersion Camp. Yes, that was a thing and I freaking loved it. I had the opportunity to go to Camp – unfortunately it wasn’t as amazing as Loveboat, but I did develop a couple of crushes on my classmates who I’m still in contact with today – in Hawaii, and that was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had.
I just… man I don’t even know if this is a good review or not, but I just loved this book. I loved the characters, I loved the experiences that Ever got to have in Taipei, and I’m honestly so jealous that she got to go! I loved Ever’s growth. I loved Ever and Sophie’s easy friendship from the get go, and how accepting Sophie was of Ever immediately. She treated her like family and even invited her to go see her aunt and just make sure that she’s okay. That meant so much to me, and I’m glad that Ever was able to experience that too.
This was just an amazing book and I can’t believe that I need to wait for the sequel, but I’m excited for it. Thank you so much Abigail Hing Wen for writing this. Thank you for making girls like me be seen in literature. Thank you for making me so proud to be who I am.
Oh my gosh I had so many freaking favorite quotes in this novel. Like no joke, I feel like I was highlighting almost every other sentence. That’s how much I was into this book. I even just pre-ordered it because I don’t remember if I did earlier, but I need this book on my shelf and I need to be able to touch this and read this over and over again.
But I will try to narrow this down to just like… maybe 4 ? Maybe 5? I don’t know. We’ll see!
When you’ve grown up one of three Asian American kids in your school of less than five hundred kids, you don’t do anything to draw attention to your Asianness – his or mine.Ever Wong
Luckily I grew up in Hawaii, so most of my classmates were Asian like me. However, if you’ve seen me, or seen any of my avatars that I’ve had made, you know that I don’t look like a typical Asian person because guess what? I’m also Black. So, imagine being one of three Black kids in your school, and people assuming that you’re related to them or that you’d automatically be friends with them because you are similar in skin tone.
Why give me honey when you knew my future was diabetic?Ever Wong
I’m pretty sure I had to put down my Kindle when I got to this line because I could just feel this in my bones. In my soul. I feel this. I just can’t even say anything about this because this line was honestly so perfect.
But when I dance, I become music in motion. A goddess. Myself.Ever Wong
Ever is meant to be a dancer. This is just clear and obvious from the moment we meet her. She belongs in Tisch, and it sucks that her parents can’t see that right now. She’s been cultivating her art for years and years and years. And this is her element. I was so freaking proud of her for calling herself a goddess in this moment. To have that kind of confidence and self-worth is something I wish I had about anything in my life. I was happy that she knew this about herself.
People sometimes called me a porcelain doll growing up, which I half liked, half hated.Ever Wong
Okay this one was special to my heart because I remember my mom telling me that when I was a baby, and she’d push me in a stroller, people would come up to her and ask me if I was actually a doll because I wouldn’t move and just stared at them like they were crazy. She was like “you really think I’d be pushing a damn doll in a stroller?” and I’m like, you’re so right mom. So that was a special line for me because I wasn’t old enough to either like or hate it, but I can’t believe people legit thought I was a doll.
Okay I’m gonna go lay down and cry again because I don’t have the physical copy in my hands right now, and I just can’t get over this book. Go enjoy. I love you all.