Book Review: 'Loveboat Taipei' by Abigail Hing Wen
Ever Wong has always had different ideas for her future than her parents. Her parents immigrated from China so she could have the best opportunities. Her father, a doctor in China, now works as an orderly because the USA would not honor his medical license. Ever now feels the pressure to pursue medicine and have the life her father sacrificed. Her real dream is to pursue dance, a field her parents would never approve of. To get Ever more connected with her roots and become the Chinese daughter they always wanted, Ever’s parents send her to a Chinese camp in Taiwan. Unbeknownst to her, this camp is unofficially known as Loveboat. Teens are searching for sizzling summer romances and at night, all the rules are broken as they sneak out of camp to explore the night markets and clubs. Will Ever return to America the way her parents envisioned?
"Loveboat, Taipei" was a fun coming-of-age story that was a creative and original story. All of the characters had intriguing backstories. I appreciated that while, at times, they did act like typical 18-year-olds away from home for the first time, they also had depths that explained their choices, and we could see the family pressures they were all facing.
The story moved along fairly quickly, but it did feel a bit repetitive at times. There was a lot of back-and-forth with relationships and the drama of summer camp friendships. Despite this, "Loveboat, Taipei" was paced nicely and once it really picked up around the 60 percent mark, I couldn’t put it down. There was good plot and character development, and the resolution was satisfying. Ever had substantial character development that really made this a solid coming-of-age story. She went from a girl at summer camp just wanting to have fun to a young woman with a passion she was willing to fight for. "Loveboat, Taipei" was a great debut novel that will soon be a movie! And, if you need more excitement and want to follow different characters, the sequel, "Loveboat Reunion," was recently published in January 2022.