It is difficult trying to talk in our family cos:
a) Grandparents don’t speak English at all
b) Mum hardly speaks any English
c) Me, Bonny and Simon hardly speak Chinese
d) Dad speaks Chinese and good English – but doesn’t like talking
In other words, we all have to cobble together tiny bits of English and Chinese into a rubbish new language I call ‘Chinglish’. It is very awkward.
Jo Kwan is a teenager growing up in 1980s Coventry with her annoying little sister, too-cool older brother, a series of very unlucky pets and utterly bonkers parents. But unlike the other kids at her new school or her posh cousins, Jo lives above her parents’ Chinese takeaway. And things can be tough – whether it’s unruly customers or the snotty popular girls who bully Jo for being different. Even when she does find a BFF who actually likes Jo for herself, she still has to contend with her erratic dad’s behaviour. All Jo dreams of is breaking free and forging a career as an artist.
Told in diary entries and doodles, Jo’s brilliantly funny observations about life, family and char siu make for a searingly honest portrayal of life on the other side of the takeaway counter.
Information about the Book
Author: Sue Chueng
Release Date: 5th September 2019
Page Count: 384
Publisher: Andersen Press
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43159424-chinglish
Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chinglish-Sue-Cheung/dp/1783448393
Review: The Chinglish book succeeds with the diary-format of storytelling better than a lot of other “diaries” out there. How much of Sue Cheung’s diary is authentic isn’t clear, the book is inspired by her childhood and it’s 3 years of her teens in the 80s.
As much as the book is fun it’s also serious. It might be amusing to laugh about the pets in the garden or the way Sue describes the neighbours, take-out clientele and “normal” teenage embarrassment but the undertone of what is actually going on is not hidden, even though Sue doesn’t outright say it until later.
Because of this the second half of the book was more engaging for me. Throughout the first half of the book I felt like there was that underlying thing I was missing and this made more sense once the diary become the full account of family life.
Review by Luna
Sue Cheung was born in the Midlands and spent her early years clowning about and busily scribbling and drawing. At the age of 16 she seized her chance to become an artist by winning a scholarship to the London College of Fashion. Later, Sue went into advertising and worked her way up to Art Director.
She now freelances as a designer from her home in Bournemouth, where she writes and illustrates children’s books.
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