Chinglish

Publisher: Andersen Press

Review

When Jo’s family move to the flat above their new Chinese takeaway in 1984, she’s incredibly disappointed to learn that it’s so tiny that she has to share a room with her deeply annoying younger sister Bonny. It’s no better when she starts a new school, where she’s called names and excluded by the other kids for being Chinese. Luckily, she finds a friend in gothy Tina who teaches Jo how to backcomb her hair and shares her love of art.

Jo’s terrified about asking Tina home and revealing that she lives above a Chinese takeaway, but is also wary of anyone meeting her parents, and most of all her dad, with his unpredictable behaviour. Slowly, in reading Jo’s diary, we start to understand the unsaid undercurrents of tension within her family, as well as the racism and homophobia that exists in the world around her.

The diary format is an ideal way for Cheung to allow us intimate access to Jo’s life and allows the inclusion of her doodle illustrations, which add verve and character.

Please note that the book does contain occasional bad language and themes of bullying and violence.

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