Friday, October 18, 2013

Bitter Melon by Cara Chow Review

"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."

First thing that comes into mind after I read this? Story of my life, just not set in the 1980s (I'm not even born at the time) and without the crazy mom and horrible living areas. Pretty close, right? Not really, but anyone with pushy parents who wants their kids to do beyond amazing can understand Frances and empathized with her. She's the easiest character (I've ever met) I can empathized with and walk around in. 

Bitter Melon is a brilliantly written book. It's really good, full of deep meaning and hidden thoughts that makes you ask: "Why did she do that?" Specifically, the question "Why?" Why is Bitter Melon good? Why is her mother all this, this, this, that, that, that? Many questions to ask yourself. Many answers hidden beneath the words. 

Bitter Melon's plot is wonderfully twisted. I love how bitter it is in the beginning. (Reminds me of home and my mom). Cara Chow makes awesome usage of symbolism and minor suspense to keep the reader's interest in check. The writing of Bitter Melon is compelling and addicting; I love how beautiful it is when it tells Frances' story.

Although the story is set in the 1980s, Bitter Melon doesn't need a short background info page. It will be helpful if it has one, but it doesn't and it doesn't matter unlike some books. Does anyone know what the SAT were out of in the 1980s? That will be helpful, because that question remains unanswered in Bitter Melon. It might have help my understanding of Bitter Melon, but I guess not. 

Bitter Melon talks about innocence, manipulation, freedom, parental control, first love, and the future of the young people. 

There's great character development in Frances. I like how Frances went from a non-questioning, naive, try hard, smart girl to a inquisitive, knowledgeable, and brave young lady. She went through a big change all because of one class.

Rating: Four out of Five

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