Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wang. January 7, 2020. HarperTeen, 414 p. ISBN: 9780062957276. Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA.
“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.
Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Strong sexual themes; Physical abuse, Domestic abuse; Alcohol
Booklist (December 1, 2019 (Vol. 116, No. 7))
Grades 10-12. Ever Wong has spent 18 years being measured against the impossible standards of her parents’ admiration for high-achieving Chinese Americans. They literally ran her crush away (devastatingly into the arms of her best friend!) and, on the cusp of adulthood, are forcing her to pursue medical school instead of her true love, dance. When she’s sent to Chien Tan in Taipei, what she expects to be a laborious language and cultural program she finds is nicknamed “Loveboat” for a reason, turning Ever’s summer into one of love, mischief, and self-awakening that she will soon not forget. Wen’s depiction of a wild summer disguised as an educational summer camp is brimming with hormones under scant supervision and Loveboat’s rowdy reputation. Ever’s thorny friendship with Sophie and a love triangle between brilliant Rick, with his effortless charm, and bad boy Xavier provides a strong romance, but some heavy subplots make it a serious read, too. It’s Ever’s resulting growth in the face of parental expectations and heartache that will resonate most with readers far and wide.
Kirkus Reviews (December 1, 2019)
A sheltered teen with a passion for dance finds love, drama, and herself at a summer camp in Taiwan. Eighteen-year-old Everett “Ever” Wong braces herself for a summer of curfews and vocabulary lessons after her parents reveal that they signed her up for a Mandarin language and Chinese culture program. But upon arriving at Chien Tan, Ever quickly discovers how the program earned its nickname, Loveboat. As her new roommate, Sophie, says, “Ever, you are never going to meet this many eligible guys in one place.” Ever seizes this opportunity away from her strict parents to experience a slew of forbidden activities, from sneaking out at night with other campers for illicit clubbing to taking classes at a local ballet studio. Complications arise when she unintentionally stumbles into a love quadrangle involving bad boy Xavier, handsome prodigy Rick, and glamorous Sophie. The novel evokes the style of bingeworthy Taiwanese TV dramas, complete with dramatic plot developments and characterizations that occasionally toe the line between exaggeration and caricature. Between hookups, glamour photo shoots, and camp classes, Wen addresses a number of hot-button issues for many Asian Americans, the foremost being the struggle to reconcile immigrant parents’ expectations with personal aspirations. Characters are predominantly Chinese American; a secondary character is Indigenous Taiwanese. An entertaining and heartfelt debut that takes readers on a roller-coaster ride of romance and self-discovery. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14-18)
About the Author
Abigail Hing Wen holds a BA from Harvard, a JD from Columbia Law School, and an MFA from the Vermont School of Fine Arts. When she’s not writing stories or listening to her favorite scores, she is busy working as an attorney in venture capital and artificial intelligence in Silicon Valley, where she lives with her husband and two sons. Loveboat, Taipei is her first novel.
Her website is www.abigailhingwen.com
Loveboat, Taipei on Common Sense Media
Around the Web
Loveboat, Taipei on Amazon
Loveboat, Taipei on Barnes and Noble
Loveboat, Taipei on Goodreads
Loveboat, Taipei on LibraryThing
Loveboat, Taipei Publisher Page