Title // Loveboat, Taipei
Author // Abigail Hing Wen
Publisher // HarperTeen
Publication Date // January 7th, 2020
Synopsis // “Our cousins have done this program,” Sophie whispers. “Best kept secret. Zero supervision.”
And just like that, Ever Wong’s summer takes an unexpected turn. Gone is Chien Tan, the strict educational program in Taiwan that Ever was expecting. In its place, she finds Loveboat: a summer-long free-for-all where hookups abound, adults turn a blind eye, snake-blood sake flows abundantly, and the nightlife runs nonstop.
But not every student is quite what they seem:
Ever is working toward becoming a doctor but nurses a secret passion for dance.
Rick Woo is the Yale-bound child prodigy bane of Ever’s existence whose perfection hides a secret.
Boy-crazy, fashion-obsessed Sophie Ha turns out to have more to her than meets the eye.
And under sexy Xavier Yeh’s shell is buried a shameful truth he’ll never admit.
When these students’ lives collide, it’s guaranteed to be a summer Ever will never forget.
My Rating: ★★★★☆
I’ve been dying to get my hands on this book ever since it came out in January and I finally got it from the library! It was such a fun quick easy read, that also had some deeper important themes, and at times it really felt like a love letter to Taiwan and dancing, which I very much loved as a Taiwanese dancer.
I loved reading about Ever’s adventures in Taipei! There were descriptions of delicious food such as boba (I can’t believe she went 18 years without boba who is this girl), tea eggs, and street food like pig’s ears. I loved reading about the different places in Taipei that Ever visited (that I have also visited!) such as the National Palace Museum (with its pork shaped meat!), and Tianmu. There were snippets of Chinese throughout the book which really made it feel authentic.
I also really loved the representation of Ever as an Asian American, visiting Taiwan but not knowing much about it and even not speaking Chinese. It felt very authentic to my experience and struggle visiting Taiwan without speaking Chinese, and I liked how this was juxtaposed against discussions of racism that Asians experience in America. There is also a character who is pretty fluent in spoken Chinese, but can’t read or write, and I loved that this was shown on the page because it’s how so many heritage learners are!
This book really explored how family expectations are in many Asian families, with Ever’s family wanting her to go to med school and be a doctor, and other character’s parents wanting them to marry a wealthy boy. It really explored going against your family’s wishes, having to determine what is best for yourself and following your dreams, while still showing the importance of family.
In the beginning, Ever really just wants to rebel against her parents. But she really has character growth in that she learns to take control of her own life, follow her dreams, and not just do the opposite of what her parents want, but to do what she wants to do. Ever has so amazing character growth, and I really liked her interactions with the other characters, including her family and her new friends, as well.
I loved that Ever is a dancer! Her love for the sport really comes through on the page, and it’s so easy to fell her passion and get swept up in it with her. Also she’s on the color guard which made me really excited because hello I was on the color guard and I loved it it was my life and I never see that in books. But also it annoyed me because it’s so obvious the author has no idea what color guard is like, she just saw flags at one parade once and rolled with it. She calls it “flag corp” (lmao no, it’s guard), describes Ever twirling and hurling (we spin and toss we do NOT twirl and hurl and we WILL get mad if you say so), and claims Ever and her flag corp would often practice flag without the flags (**silks), just the staffs (**poles) which is ridiculous I promise no color guard would ever do that it literally makes no sense.
I get the reason she described using flags without silks so that Ever would already be able to dance with a staff (which I loved by the way! I loved the description of her dancing with her staff, and how she was able to incorporate choreography from kung fu movies and dance/fight together) but just saying it would make much more sense to compare dancing with the staff to sabre than a flag pole and then we could have gotten a description of Ever dancing with a sword imagine how amazing that would have been… Anyways I’m just nitpicking a tiny thing but color guard is so under appreciated I’m defensive and protective of my baby lol if you’re going to make it a big part of your character you could do a bit of research… but that’s not the point also Ever does lots of other dance styles like ballet including Swan Lake so back to the point I love her dance.
There were a few problems I had with this book. Problem No1: Love TriangleTM. I was like… really, this is 2020, I thought we all agreed that love triangles are terrible and left them behind in 2014 why am I reading this. And of course I was on the loosing team… and I thought Ever treated the loosing guy horribly and used him so I didn’t like that. Also there’s some grey area emotional cheating, which is like justified because the girl getting cheated on has depression so that villainies her?? That is… not okay.
There’s also an issue of girl hate and leaked nudes and… it was barely addressed? Like I feel like this is a really big thing and it shouldn’t be so simple to forgive the person who did this and the book glossed over it and the girl who took the nudes got all the blame and the girl who leaked them got nothing which really annoyed me because it feels like victim blaming sooo.
Anyways, there were some problematic elements obviously and judging by the reviews they bothered some people more than others, and tbh if I hadn’t loved the rep and dancing so much they probably would have bothered me a lot more so you judge if you think it’ll bother you too much. I really did love this book though, few problems aside.
Did you enjoy this book, or do you want to read it? Have you ever visited Taiwan? Do you like reading about dancers? I’d love to chat in the comments below ❤