Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok
Review by Mirah Welday (mwelday)
It has been a very long time since I picked up a book and couldn’t put it down. When I started Mambo in Chinatown I thought I would just read for a few hours one morning and then get on with the rest of my day. But that was not to be. I couldn’t stop myself from turning the pages and I finished it in one day…less than 9 hours from when I started!
For me, Kwok found just the right balance with this book. She was able to address serious issues without being preachy or overly sentimental. She was also able to cover a variety of topics without the plot seeming thin. There were moments of intense emotion but also moments of lightheartedness that made me smile.
Charlie is a beautifully created, sympathetic character and I wanted to know how her story would develop and how she would change. I felt emotions on her behalf; I was at different times hopeful, frustrated, excited and disappointed. I really wanted her to succeed and find her true place. Wanting to know what would happen for Charlie is what kept me reading all day.
Kwok’s Mambo in Chinatown is a touching book about really getting to know yourself without being dependent on other people to tell you what to believe or do. I definitely recommend it and know I now need to add Kwok’s debut novel Girl in Translation to my reading list.