Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen

Contemporary, 432 pages, published in 2020

All Ever wants to do is dance, but her parents have pushed her into becoming a doctor her whole life. For the summer, they force her to go to Taiwan for a summer program, infamously called Loveboat. When she arrives, she realizes that since her parents are on the other side of the world, she doesn’t have to follow their strict rules, at least for the summer.

Spoiler Free Review:

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I don’t think I would have picked this book up if not for the YA Barnes & Noble book club. I don’t mind contemporary books, but they are definitely not my preferred genre. I definitely had an entertaining time reading this book, but it’s not something I would ever feel the need to reread.

At first, I really felt connected to Ever. She got rejected from a ton of colleges and she feels pushed into something she doesn’t want to do. However, once she got to Taipei, she made decisions that I just did not understand. A lot of them seemed to go against who she was as a person. I get that she was trying to do things to spite her parents, but it just felt like too much.

I didn’t really like any of the characters. Ever does some things that felt kind of manipulative to me, her love interest Rick does what felt close to emotional cheating, and her friend Sophie does something terrible as revenge. Speaking of Sophie, what she did was absolutely awful and I think she got off way too easy for what she did.

I enjoyed the plot because it was filled with drama and I didn’t know where things were going to go. There is a huge group of kids in their late teens in this program, so things were bound to get wild.

I also enjoyed the portrayal of the struggle of expectations placed on the children of immigrants, especially people of color. Ever wants to dance, but her parents gave up everything to give her the chance to go to medical school, and throughout the book, she has to deal with the guilt involved. Many of her peers deal with this pressure as well.

Overall, I think this book just bit off more than it could chew. I think it could have explored more to do with children of immigrants, but it also deals with abuse and depression. There was some travelling around Taiwan near the end of the book that I wish I could have read more of. I felt like lots of things were covered briefly, when I would have preferred a few things to be covered in depth.

I read this book super fast, so it definitely was entertaining, but I had enough issues with it that it’s not a standout for me.

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