SUBWAY GIRL by P.J. Converse


Age Range: 14 & up
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Chan Tze Man, aka Simon Chan, is falling behind in English classes at his Hong Kong high school, and he decides to leave school, even though he knows that he won’t graduate without passing the final exam. Riding the subway home, he ponders the fate of dropouts: “Maybe they were rounded up by their families and deposited in landfills. Or maybe they were just taken away and shot after answering one final grammar question incorrectly.” Simon finds the nerve to strike up a conversation with the mysterious Subway Girl, who so far has ignored him and his friends. She turns out to be a Chinese-American girl named Amy who only speaks English. Simon’s interest in Amy and her need for someone to confide in help them overcome the language barrier, and through halting conversations and e-mails, they find ways to support each other. Amy’s last encounter with her ex-boyfriend ended with his lying to her about using a condom, and the story takes a serious turn as Simon helps Amy obtain a cheap abortion in neighboring China. The light narrative tone in much of the book is often just the right touch; other times there’s enough of a hint of the author’s purpose—writing a novel in English for his students in Hong Kong—to interrupt the flow of what is otherwise a story with depth. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-157514-3
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: HarperTeen
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2011