Loveboat, Taipei
by Wen, Abigail Hing

When her parents send her to Taipei for an immersion program, Ever Wong finds herself surrounded by classmates who are more interested in the Taipei nightlife and discovering what freedom feels like.

Ever Wong has spent 18 years being measured against the impossible standards of her parents' admiration for high-achieving Chinese Americans. They literally ran her crush away (devastatingly into the arms of her best friend!) and, on the cusp of adulthood, are forcing her to pursue medical school instead of her true love, dance. When she's sent to Chien Tan in Taipei, what she expects to be a laborious language and cultural program she finds is nicknamed Loveboat for a reason, turning Ever's summer into one of love, mischief, and self-awakening that she will soon not forget. Wen's depiction of a wild summer disguised as an educational summer camp is brimming with hormones under scant supervision and Loveboat's rowdy reputation. Ever's thorny friendship with Sophie and a love triangle between brilliant Rick, with his effortless charm, and bad boy Xavier provides a strong romance, but some heavy subplots make it a serious read, too. It's Ever's resulting growth in the face of parental expectations and heartache that will resonate most with readers far and wide. Grades 10-12. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

A sheltered teen with a passion for dance finds love, drama, and herself at a summer camp in Taiwan. Eighteen-year-old Everett "Ever" Wong braces herself for a summer of curfews and vocabulary lessons after her parents reveal that they signed her up for a Mandarin language and Chinese culture program. But upon arriving at Chien Tan, Ever quickly discovers how the program earned its nickname, Loveboat. As her new roommate, Sophie, says, "Ever, you are never going to meet this many eligible guys in one place." Ever seizes this opportunity away from her strict parents to experience a slew of forbidden activities, from sneaking out at night with other campers for illicit clubbing to taking classes at a local ballet studio. Complications arise when she unintentionally stumbles into a love quadrangle involving bad boy Xavier, handsome prodigy Rick, and glamorous Sophie. The novel evokes the style of bingeworthy Taiwanese TV dramas, complete with dramatic plot developments and characterizations that occasionally toe the line between exaggeration and caricature. Between hookups, gla mour photo shoots, and camp classes, Wen addresses a number of hot-button issues for many Asian Americans, the foremost being the struggle to reconcile immigrant parents' expectations with personal aspirations. Characters are predominantly Chinese American; a secondary character is Indigenous Taiwanese. An entertaining and heartfelt debut that takes readers on a roller-coaster ride of romance and self-discovery. (author's note) (Fiction. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus 2019 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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