MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE by Jeanne Betancourt


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Liz Ganor, secretly in love with Chinese-American Ben Lee, decides to help a Cambodian gift, Dary Sing, learn English. Brad Mulville, class bigot, likes to refer to both Ben and Dory as ""slant-eyes,"" among other derogatory terms; he has a crash on Liz and views Ben as competition. Meanwhile, the town resents a new Korean green-grocer who wants to say open 24 hours; and Ben finds that he is grouped with other Asians, even though he is American-born, and that he must hide his affection for Liz from his mother. Liz gets Ben; Brad becomes a ""terrific"" spokesperson against racism. But the fact that the novel is a well-intended jab at bigotry and cultural misunderstanding is not enough to make it a well-crafted book. With narrative shortcuts and too many points of view, the story slides from Liz to Liz's mother to Ben, Brad, and so on. The topic is spread too thin to be effective: Dory is an excuse to rehash Vietnam; her relatives' ceaseless gratitude to Liz verges on the stereotypical ""humble Asian."" Nor does Brad's sudden change of heart make sense--he is not an honestly ignorant person who finds enlightenment, and he is unconvincing even as a walking epithet slinger-cum-hero.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1990
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Bantam