Thank you to the publisher who gifted me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Jo Kwan is a teenager growing up in 1980s Coventry. She has an annoying little sister, a cool older brother, a series of extremely unlucky pets and and utterly bonkers parents! Jo lives above her parents’ Chinese takeaway and things can be tough. Whether it is the unruly customers or the popular girls at school who bully Jo for being different. Even when she finds a best friend who likes Jo for who Jo is, she still cannot contend with her dad’s erratic behaviour. All that Jo dreams of is breaking free and forging a career as an artist.
As soon as I saw the synopsis and the cover of this book, I know I had to at least give it a try. After finishing this book I can safely say that it is well worth reading.
Chinglish made me laugh out loud in parts. It is told in diary entries and doodles spread over 4 years of Jo’s teen life. I throughly enjoyed Jo as a character, she is absolutely hilarious. It really feels like when you are reading this book you are on the emotional rollercoaster that Jo calls life with her.
Whilst this book made me laugh out loud, I enjoyed that Sue Cheung explored the important topics which are key for YA audiences. Sue knew when to make a joke but also when it was the right time to reach out to the audience in relation to the key topics. These were topics such as diversity, child abuse, domestic violence and also bullying. There are even more topics covered in the book though.
It is such an easy book to read and I flew through it in a matter of sittings which is another reason I really enjoyed reading this book. It is set out really simply in diary entries and is very easy to read a lot in a short amount of time. Something I have never seen in other YA books before and I feel made this book even more unique as the use of illustrations and diagrams. These added to the experience of reading the book and a lot of them made me laugh with how much they added to the story. The illustrations really help to keep you engaged with the book and certainly made me want to read more.
This book will certainly teach a lot of teenagers some very important lessons. It teaches you that it is okay to be who you are, you should not change for other people and to embrace the difference that there will be between you and your friends. It also teaches you how important it is to follow your dreams and not to let anybody tell you that you can’t do something you have your heart set on.
Overall, I throughly enjoyed my time reading Chinglish and I am really glad to have had the opportunity to read this book. If you are looking for a book that tackles serious issues but has a lot of humour throughout then this is the book for you!