Intrigue in the House of Wong by Amy S. Kwei
A Early Reader/Teen/YA Novel published by Tats Publishing (06/01/2008)
Wendy Wong and her close-knit Chinese family move from familiar Chinatown to the Upper East Side so that she can attend a posh private school through partial scholarship. The Wongs go into debt purchasing the restaurant under their apartment. A stop work order on the renovation and sketchy thugs hanging out in the alley threaten to shut down the business, but the Wongs, along with their newfound friends and allies, will stop at nothing to save the House of Fortune. Their plans almost fall apart when one of their friends’ lives is threatened and Wendy is torn between obediently following her family and doing what she thinks is best.
Chinese-American, Chinatown, culture, understanding, being uprooted, teen issues
Wendy is not a complex character, she is just going through that period of time when she is confused about who she is and how she relates tot the world. Her Chinese culture butts heads with her new American attitude and she is forced to choose between the two in some circumstances. “Wendy never dreamed of doing anything shocking or scandalous.” (Location 90).
This book highlights the lives and feelings of Chinese living in present day America, their trials and tribulations and the way they are perceived by others. “…the Chinese were unwelcome guests, and the American Chinese would be foolish to act as if they were equal citizens.” (Location 575). Wendy herself feels like she is straddling two worlds and ultimately she feels alienated from both.
This book starts out slow, but soon progresses into a thought-provoking stance on cultural integration and how some people are not willing to change, not ready to change, or can’t change to fit in. Wendy learns that it is hard to be in a new place with new people who don’t know or understand where she is coming from. Not everyone is born equal, therefore there cannot truly be equality in this world, but you can try to treat everyone equally. Wendy comments that “Yeah, when you’re not on your guard, everyone seems to slip into group think.” (Locations 1572-1573) and that “In times of mass hysteria, people can forget to be human.” (Locations 1413-1414).
Kwei gives the teens slang that seems out of place, just like how Wendy and her friend Debbie sometimes feel out of place. The two teens want to fit in, but even their speech is not normal. The style of narration in the book is even subject to the semi-halting lilt of a young teenager’s emerging style and of one experiencing sudden change.
This is a book for teens and so the villains are softer and more subdued than the average bad guy you read about. These villains reveal their plans directly to the kids and act in stereotypical villanous fashion straight out of a Disney movie.
This novel was published by Tats Publishing 06/01/2008 and is available on Amazon here.
TLDR Star Rating: 3.50
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