Loveboat, Taipei / Abigail Hing Wen / Review


Straight A's
Dress Like a Nun
Curfew of Ten
No Drinking
No Wasting Money
No Dancing with a Boy
No Kissing Boys
No Boyfriend

These are the Wong Family rules, and 18-year-old Ever follows them religiously. Ever plans to spend her last summer before entering a joint BA-med school program in the fall doing what she loves: dancing. This is her last shot, her grand finale before her family's dreams of medical school take over Ever's life. But Ever's dream of one last summer is interrupted when her parents give Ever the gift of a lifetime: a summer attending Chinese school in Taipei. Studying, studying, and studying fill Ever's new summer agenda--no room for dancing.

Yet when she steps off the plane, she learns that this summer school won't be what she thought. Limited supervision, ample free time, and plenty of boys: Ever decides this might be the perfect summer to break out of her shell, and she'll start by breaking every one of the Wong Family rules.



Creative Formatting I love when authors experiment with form in prose. This book opens with a series of rejection/acceptance/waiting-list letters to Ever from prospective college programs. Not only is this a creative (and grounding) way to set up the story, the format is exciting as well.

Consciously Eliminates Stereotypes Abigail Hing Wen's book features a diverse cast who actively work against the tropes associated with "exotic" Asian characters in media. The students of Chien Tan (AKA "Loveboat, Taipei") come from all over the world. Some were raised in Taiwan, others in the United States, and at least one boy grew up in Italy. There are students with mixed-race heritage in the program, and indigenous characters also feature in Wen's work. All her characters have diverse interests, from American football to drag to jazz dance, and even more explicitly, her work features a group of male students which uses this summer to "take back" the stereotypes Western culture has forced upon Asian men.

Bildungsroman Wen's novel has all of the building blocks of a great YA rom-com: hunky love interests, gossip and rumors, a setting full of excitement and new experiences that works as a great romantic backdrop. Even so, Wen's work pushes past these lighthearted elements. At its core, Loveboat, Taipei is a bildungsroman: a coming-of-age story. For every fun, whimsical rom-com moment, Ever also faces a serious challenge that will push her beyond her normal boundaries, expand her experience, and allow her to claim her new independent, adult identity along the way.


I love good descriptive passages in a book, especially as I am getting to know a character or a setting. Sometimes, however, Wen's descriptions feel a little flat. Descriptions always need to do something, evoke some sense or feeling. Especially when introducing characters, I felt the attention to clothing and other superficial details didn't do the job. That is, these descriptions didn't seem to add much to my initial impression of the character. They felt a little generic--too generic, perhaps, to be meaningful in a work of fiction. Superficial Descriptions

I have very, very little that is negative to say about this book, which is the only reason this complaint makes the list. Peppered throughout the novel are sentences with questionable grammatical construction, particularly when it comes to the comma. As a grammarian myself, I took note, but for most, this detail is unlikely to register. As a drawback, this is certainly a small one. Comma Splices



Fans of Ann Brashares's Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants will enjoy this updated coming-of-age story. Readers looking for the whimsy and charm of Kevin Kwan's Crazy Rich Asians should also take a look at this fun read.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Crazy Rich Asians

Publisher: HarperTeen
Date: January 7, 2020
Series: Loveboat, Taipei
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  1. I feel like a lot of characters in YA books fall into stereotypes, so it's nice that this book doesn't do that.

  2. Have now read the book. Enjoyable but a lot of dancing. Also offended she got into Northwestern.


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