This lighthearted romp set in San Francisco’s Chinatown offers a thoughtful take on cultural identity and friendship encased in a far-fetched plot.
Back in eighth grade, Mei uninvited Irish-American Erin from a sleepover on the grounds that she wouldn’t “fit in” with the Chinese-American girls. The pair’s mutual friend Linny helped paper over the rift, but Erin still hurts. She feels Chinese inside. China was her birthplace and home for years; she loves its language, literature, food and traditional medicine—she’s even dyed her hair black. She blogs her Chinese-American inner self via her alter ego, Miss Fortune Cookie, dispensing “Confucius says” advice to the perplexed. While UC Berkeley–bound Linny organizes protests against bigotry, Mei and Erin wait to hear from the Ivy League. Darren, Mei’s true love, is staying in California, but Mei’s hardworking single mother insists she attend Harvard; Stanford just won’t do. (Not every reader will identify with the agony of choosing among top-ranked private colleges.) Fearing the couple might elope, Erin enlists Linny and handsome Weyland to dissuade them; a frantic but repetitive chase ensues. Erin’s ruefully self-aware obsession over her fractured friendships rings touchingly true, but the relentless madcap hijinks and nonstop action work against depth, leaving promising subject matter unresolved.
It’s fun, but it could’ve been so much more. (glossary, pronunciation guide, author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)