And your third review for the day shall be this book review. The second book club book that I have from this week!
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen
Synopsis From The Book
“Our cousins have done this program,” Sophie whispers. “Best kept secret. Zerosupervision.”
And just like that, Ever Wong’s summer takes an unexpected turn. Gone is Chien Tan, the strict educational program in Taiwan that Ever was expecting. In its place, she finds Loveboat: a summer-long free-for-all where hookups abound, adults turn a blind eye, snake-blood sake flows abundantly, and the nightlife runs nonstop.
But not every student is quite what they seem:
Ever is working toward becoming a doctor but nurses a secret passion for dance.
Rick Woo is the Yale-bound child prodigy bane of Ever’s existence whose perfection hides a secret.
Boy-crazy, fashion-obsessed Sophie Ha turns out to have more to her than meets the eye.
And under sexy Xavier Yeh’s shell is buried a shameful truth he’ll never admit.
When these students’ lives collide, it’s guaranteed to be a summer Ever will never forget.
Contemporary – Drama | YA – M |Drinking (Legal for the country they are in), Spreading of Nudes, Manipulative Relationships | Self Worth/Identity, Self Love, Breaking Free
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
I don’t know how this book is going to hit me. Thus far, this month, they’ve all been very mental books. All about hope, yes, but still very mental books. I think this one is too. Its another contemporary, which is interesting because that seems to be what I have dealt a lot with in this year already.
Once again, another book club book.
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
What a great book! Not going to lie, the dichotomy between being American and being Chinese and the thin line between both was the thing that got my best friend and I closer. She’s Chinese American (and honestly the whole wants to dance/be a choreographer, parents want her to be a doctor, is exactly like what happened for my best friend) and I’m mixed race. The inability to find a group to fully identify with was 100% what drew us together and is what drew me to love Ever. This book hit and it hit me hard because every single thing Ever did, I could imagine my best friend doing if she were in the situation.
Somehow I want her (my best friend) to read this book, but I doubt she ever will. She likes classical literature.
Ever Wong has only been accepted to Northwestern’s medical program, no other school. However, she gets an acceptance letter from Tisch School of the Arts (NYU) for dance, close to summer (in summer), and wants to go. Unfortunately for her, her parents have other plans and are sending her to Taiwan for the summer.
In Taiwan her parents both hope she’ll garner a love for her culture, and make lasting connections. Ever is forced to decline Tisch. Upon arrival in Taiwan, Ever meets Rick Woo, Sophie Ha, and Xavier Yeh. Ever immediately dislikes Rick, since he was the one her parents always compared her to. She, however, learns to like him, as she learns how dedicated he is to his GF. Sophie and Ever hit it off. Sophie sets her eyes on Xavier, a play boy who seems dangerous. The first night they go to a club, and Ever gets super drunk and dances with Xavier.
The next day she finds a piece of art of her dancing. Thus begins the mystery of the mysterious artist. Sophie and Ever break a lot of rules, Ever dedicated to doing so after being constrained by so many her whole life. She goes with Sophie to an photography studio to do glamour shots, and does one shot naked (hiding her breasts with her hand, and ass with a fan). Ever joins a dance studio and pushes herself in the art form she likes the most.
Ever finds out that Xavier is the artist, and learns to like Rick a lot more. Rick treats her like his little sister and she agrees to help him. Rick and Sophie are cousins, and their family hates Rick’s GF. When Xavier, Ever, Rick, and Sophie go to Rick’s aunt’s house, Ever poses as his new GF. Ricks family adores her and her love for dance. However that night, Xavier and Ever kiss. Sophie freaks out and Rick disappears after admitting his fault. Jenna, Ricks real GF, found out and he needs to patch it up with her.
Ever hurries to her dance audition for Swan Lake with the studio to see that Sophie sabotaged it by handing out her nude photo. Ever returns to the campus of her exchange program, and sees the head counselor has one as do many of the boys. Ever calls Sophie out on it and starts to get her pictures back. Under the impression she has one day left, Ever sleeps with Xavier. She then finds out she has to stay the rest of summer. Ever and Xavier dance around each other and Ever realizes she likes Rick.
Rick returns and talks about how unintentionally manipulative Jenna has been, and that he broke up with her. Under her new rules, Ever begins to rediscover herself and with a bunch of her friends, she choreographs a dance for the end of summer talent show. Sophie and Ever patch it up, and Rick joins the talent show dance.
Rick and Ever sleep together. A tragedy strikes, that allows for the talent show to perform at the National Theatre but makes one of the nice counselor’s life nearly destroyed. So all of those at Ever’s summer camp, decide to make the show a fund raiser for relief. Ever and Sophie convince Xavier to sell his art, which he doesn’t think is worth much. Before Ever performs, she saves her dad from dying from a car, and dances with a bad ankle and a formerly dislocated shoulder. The talent show is a success and Ever has figured out what and who she wants to be. She goes home, does not go to college and plans to try to get into dance schools for the next fall. The school she rejected, actually accepts Jenna (who defers to work on her mental health), Xavier went to work at a theatre, and everything is turning out rather well.
What I Liked:
Ever; Spunky and reminding me of my best friend, I had no choice but to love her. She was so lost but she found herself and for that I am eternally happy.
Rick; He wasn’t my favorite character but he was not a bad guy. He was just trying to make the most out of his life and found someone he really liked while doing that. I’m happy for him.
Sophie; She was horrible at times, but she has a lot of room for growth. She reminds me of some of the girls I know who reject any and everything that has the semblance of rules due to the strict rules they had at home. I still haven’t fully forgiven her, but she’s a child still in some ways. She’ll grow.
Xavier; I was expecting him to be the asshole in disguise the whole time. He wasn’t, or rather was, but was reformed. I like that he didn’t intentionally screw anyone over, and came into his own. That was nice. As such, he was my favorite character. I know that he did keep Ever’s nude photo, but considering all the other stuff everyone else did, I liked him the best.
Jenna; As the ex-girlfriend who was manipulative without intending to be, she served her role. What made me love this author was that more was put into it. We saw how her relationship with Rick hurt her and Rick, how she needed help, how she could still succeed. I appreciated this. Jenna was not a bad person, not inherently, and she (at the end of the novel) is getting help for her depression.
Rick x Ever; While I did like EverxXavier better, this relationship between Rick and Ever had a good buildup and execution. I like how Rick did not pursue Ever until settling things with Jenna. I like how Ever was slowly drawn to Rick. I like how Rick wrote Ever a response letter to the one she wrote him when she was younger.
Use of Chinese and English; THIS is how you do multiple languages (and dialects) without it breaking flow. I may not have known for certain what was being said half the time but it worked.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
Nothing I can think of.
Book Club Thoughts:
Honestly we didn’t have much to say. We all loved Xavier. Some of the girls actually hated Sophie. I was not one of them, but I understood their point (in that what she did should never have been forgiven so easily).
What was interesting, however, is that we learned that this series is going to have a second book. It might be a companion? Or it might be a direct sequel. I have no idea, but as a companion it makes sense. As a direct sequel idk where the book will go because this one seems to end well.
“There’s no more containing the supernova.” – pg 414