My rating: 3 of 5 stars
“My cheeks burn. A foreigner. I may be the daughter of Thai parents, but I was born and raised in America. Which means I’ll never be Thai enough. I’ll never be good enough.”
Kan lives in between two cultures. She isn’t Thai enough to be a good Thai daughter. And she isn’t American enough to not be considered exotic. No matter where she goes, she feels different.
Until the day when her mother brings home a young woman to live with them, giving neither her nor her grandmother any explanation.
Shelly is awkward and quiet. Kan thinks she recognizes the feeling of being an outsider, of being not good enough in Shelly, and tries to make her feel welcome, both in their home and at school. But things with Shelly start to seem odd and details don’t quite add up.
I really like how the cultural expectations shape Kan and drive her decision making. She feels trapped in either world, not belonging to either. “I could explain how I’m from two worlds but fit in neither.”
To question her elders is considered disrespectful, so even when she begins to have doubts about the person Shelly claims to be, she gets reprimanded for digging or questioning her mother’s decision. Or worse, if she pushes and doesn’t behave they way they expect her to, they threaten to take away the family necklace.
“The piece of jewelry connects me to all the women in my family’s history.”
Her one desire is to pursue fashion, which is also frowned on. It is looked at as frivolous and too American.
In many ways, having Shelly brought into her life helps push Kan to make decisions about who she is, and who she wants to be. Shelly encourages her to be more direct in achieving her dreams, but really, it is when Shelly threatens her family that Kan is emboldened to be brave and do what she needs to do.
In the end, Kan finds that there is a balance between being disrespectful and not respectful enough. She learns to balance the honor for her family and the honor for herself.
This was an enjoyable read. For me, the plot was predictable, and the scenes meant to be suspenseful weren’t quite enough to make my heart pound or shock me. Again, they felt predictable. As far as thrillers go, it wasn’t super thrilling. But the story itself was enough to keep me turning the pages and the outcome enjoyable even if predictable.
As far as YA goes, there are good messages in this book, especially in regards to culture, not fitting in, and finding who you are.
This book goes on sale June 27.
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.