My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Publication Date: October 18th, 2016
Point of View: 3rd Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 13+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Diversity, Family, Coming-of-Age
For Vân Uoc, fantasies fall into two categories: nourishing or pointless. Daydreaming about attending her own art opening? Nourishing. Daydreaming about Billy Gardiner, star of the rowing team who doesn’t even know she’s alive? Pointless.
So Vân Uoc tries to stick to her reality–keeping a low profile as a scholarship student at her prestigious Melbourne private school, managing her mother’s PTSD from a traumatic emigration from Vietnam, and admiring Billy from afar. Until she makes a wish that inexplicably–possibly magically–comes true. Billy actually notices her. In fact, he seems to genuinely like her. But as they try to fit each other into their very different lives, Vân Uoc can’t help but wonder why Billy has suddenly fallen for her. Is it the magic of first love, or is it magic from a well-timed wish that will eventually, inevitably, come to an end?
Reading this book made me feel so good inside.
And this has nothing to do with how diverse it is – though, of course, that part is equally amazing.
It most likely has to do with the beautiful, honest, incredibly relatable main character, Vân Uoc. And her undergoing the whole International Baccalaureate pain-in-the-ass program made her all the more real to me since I, too, have completed a very similar program.
The writing is wonderful. No wonder the author mentions Jane Eyre so damn much. The writing is like an extremely contemporary version of Charlotte Bronte’s. It makes every word feel like its presence is salient, making every single sentence worth reading and remembering.
Oh, and the romance. The underdog prevails! Happily ever afters exist! One can have the moon is they wish for it enough! It’s utterly charming. I’m usually not this moved by teen romance, but the truth is, I wish I had what Vân Uoc has with Billy in high school.
This book will appeal to a lot of readers. Fans of Jane Eyre or classics in general. Fans of timid, intelligent sweet heroines with considerable character development. Fans of LGBT themes in their reads. Fans of diversity in general. Etc.
And how could I forget about the family theme? Though it did seem to me a bit underdeveloped, especially towards the end, since it seemed to come to a conclusion quite rapidly, I was especially intrigued by the story Vân Uoc’s mother has to tell and even found it in my heart to understand her, despite my not agreeing with the way she controls her daughter.
I’m a little sad to see these characters go on without my being there with them. This could have made an exceptional contemporary series. We do need more of those in YA literature. Fantasy is good, but it’s always enchanting to grow up alongside contemporary characters.
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