Bitter Melon by Cara Chow
Growing up in San Francisco’s Chinatown during the late 1980s, Frances, the only child of a strict Chinese mother, has only one task: do whatever Mommy says. When it comes to her education, she is expected to go to Berkley and become a doctor. Frances is compliant with this path…until a scheduling mix-up places her in a Speech class instead of Calculus. Through speech Frances finds her voice and realizes that she must do what is best for her, not what makes Mommy happy. The realization is easy, but the path to happiness comes with great struggles as Frances pushes against the traditional mindset of her immigrant mother.
Learning about another culture, especially one that is not as well represented in teen literature.
Derek is not a well developed character. Too much credit is given to him.
Some items are treated as being very relevant to the story or to Frances’ self discovery, but then they are not continued throughout the story.
I kept wondering if the author was writing about her own past and relationship with her mother. The time period in which the story is set – 1989-1990 – is fairly irrelevant to the story.
While reading this book I was constantly reminded of the debate around a recent book titled Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua. Frances’ mother is undoubtedly a “Tiger Mother”.