Saturday, September 10, 2011

Bitter Melon by Cara Chow

Tiger Mother meets Mommie Dearest in this stinging portrayal of abuse, coming of age, and finding your voice set in the Richmond District of San Francisco. Seventeen-year-old Frances is resigned to achieving her mother's dream for her: she will go to Berkeley and become a doctor. A door is opened when she accidentally ends up in Ms. Taylor's speech class, and as Ms. Taylor becomes her personal cheerleader the windows of the future are blown wide open. Watching Frances learn to take risks and grow to accept herself in spite of the warehouse of imaginary faults so frequently pointed out by her mother resembles seeing a delicate flower stuck in a bed of ugly weeds slowly unfurl. Ms. Chow eloquently reminds us of the infinite difference one person can make in a teen's life. Frances's tentative romance adds extra appeal for fans of the genre. Give this one to readers who enjoy Sara Zarr and Gabrielle Zevin. Grade 8+