on 24 June 2014
Mambo in Chinatown is about how to balance the past with the present and how to honor sacred, important cultural traditions with one’s interests and passions in building and establishing a new identity and new roles in a new culture. Charlie’s forced to consider what it means to seek out her interest in dance with what it means to remain humble and remain invested in the traditions of her family and the larger Chinatown community. Kwok does an exceptional job of rendering this lesser-visited part of America in a way that’s reverent toward both sides of the story. We want to see Charlie succeed in dance, but we also see why it’s so important for her to listen to her father and why it’s so important for her to keep some of those traditions and customs as part of her life now. There’s great honor in both, and it’s about how Charlie chooses to balance both of those worlds.
from my review of Jean Kwok’s Mambo in Chinatown, out today. It’s an absorbing, excellent adult novel with loads of appeal for teen readers, too. If you’re looking for more titles to diversify your reading, you can do no wrong here.