Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen Review

I picked this book up at the start of the year in Waterstones, I almost didn’t but I was buying a few books that day anyway and decided to take a chance. I am so glad I did.

I loved this book.

The story is about Ever, an Asian American who’s parents want her to attend medical school when she has a passion for dance. I suppose it is the age old story we all know, where the child’s parents are pushing them to do something that they don’t want to do.

On top of this, Ever’s parents have sent her to a summer in Chien Tan in Teipai, it is a summer school for the Asian American Elite. And is definitely not how Ever thought she would be spending her last summer before college.

I am not familiar with the culture but I found it interesting to learn about through the book. Supposedly parents send their children off to summer schools like this to find suitable partners for them. Hence the title Loveboat as everyone is hooking up and partying and trying to make the best out of the situation they are in.

Ever is thrown in the deep end at Chien Tan with a roommate who is hell bent on taking full advantage of Loveboat, while Ever decides to spend the summer breaking all the rules her parents set for her.

As the novel progresses, Ever realises that instead of trying to do things because she can that she should focus on doing things because she wants to, and she begins to come into her own identity.

I found myself relating a lot to Ever in the story, as I understand a lot of the pressure that Asian families put on their children. I mean my parents have never been pushy or anything about what I should be doing with my life, but it’s an underlying thing. You know how much they have sacrificed of their own lives for you and you feel the need to repay them in some way.

I know these feelings are not specific to Asian culture but it is definitely stronger there, especially if the family has emigrated from Asia to a Western country. They gave up everything and worked hard to give you the opportunities you have, so turning around and declining to do something for them feels like a betrayal. Which is how Ever feels about choosing dance over medical school.

Aside from the conflict of identity and breaking rules, Ever also has her own loveboat experiences as she ends up tangled in a bit of a love square? I can’t say I was super surprised about her love interests but I think I was surprised about the way things ended up.

I think it was a bit crap how things ended up with Xavier, the boy who didn’t get picked in the end, I guess I just hoped that he and Ever would remain friends, because they were friendly for a while before Ever chose Rick. But I guess when you have feelings for someone who doesn’t feel the same way, it’s best to stay away from the other person and protect yourself.

Overall an enjoyable read and I was super excited to find out that someone has bought the film rights to the book. I would love to see it come to life on screen because I think it would be amazing to see Taipei and this world come to life on screen.

I also found out that there will be a sequel to this book so I wonder where it will take us, I think it stands well as a solo book but I will definitely pick up a sequel if it’s released.

If you haven’t read this yet, I highly recommend it as I enjoyed it a lot, and I think it’s a great way to kick off some summer reading.

~ Courtney x

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