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Mambo in Chinatown[MAMBO IN…

Mambo in Chinatown[MAMBO IN CHINATOWN][Hardcover] (original 2014; edition 2014)

by JeanKwok (Author)

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2583975,279 (3.84)13
Twenty-two-year-old Charlie Wong, having grown up in New York's Chinatown as the older daughter of a Beijing ballerina and a noodle maker, is torn between her family duties in Chinatown and her escape into the world of ballroom dancing.
Title:Mambo in Chinatown[MAMBO IN CHINATOWN][Hardcover]
Authors:JeanKwok (Author)
Info:RiverheadBooks (2014)
Collections:Your library, To read

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Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok (2014)


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Mambo i Chinartown var en härlig överraskning! Jag hade hoppas på en småtrevlig bok, men jag räknade inte alls med att boken skulle vara så fängslade och förtjusande att det var svårt att lägga ifrån sig den. Boken lyckas med att både vara rolig och allvarlig och Charlies förvandling som sker gradvis genom bokens handling är underbar att följa.

Men det är kulturkrocken mellan öst och väst som ger boken en special känsla. Jean Kwok har verkligen lyckats med att beskriva problem för en ung kvinna född i Amerika med kinesiska föräldrar. Charlies pappa är t.ex. emot västerländsk medicin och vägrar låta Charlies lillasyster Lisa få läkarhjälp när hon blir sjuk. han förlitar sig istället på österländska traditioner för att finna vad som är fel på henne. Han är förövrigt inte världens bästa stöd för systrarna (trots att han älskar dem) och mycket av den yttervärldens kontakt som t.ex. skola får Charlie ta hand om när det gäller Lisa.

Det enda jag kan säga om boken som jag inte gillade var slutet. Eller rättare sagt att boken tog slut. Jag skulle ha velat läsa mer om Charlie, hennes familj och hennes vänner och fått reda på vad som händer härnäst.

Tack till Bazar Förlag för recensionexemplaret!


Mambo in Chinatown was a delightful surprise! I had hoped that the book would be pleasant to read, but I never thought that it would be both engrossing and charming. And, hard to put down. The book manages to be both funny and serious and Charlie's transformation that occurs gradually throughout the books is wonderful to follow.

However, it's the culture clash between east and west that gives the books a special atmosphere. Jean Kwok has really managed to describe the problems a young girl faces in America with parents from China. Charlie's father is for instance against western medicine and refuses to let Charlie's little sister Lisa have medical aid when she gets sick. Instead, he relies on eastern traditions to try to find out what's wrong with her. He is, to be honest not the always the best support for the sisters (despite that he loves them) and much of the outside world contact like school is Charlie the one that has to deal with when it comes to Lisa.

The only thing I didn't like about the book was the ending. Or rather that the book ended. I would have loved to read more about Charlie, her family and friends and what will happen next to them all.

thanks to Bazar Förlag for the review copy! ( )
  MaraBlaise | May 19, 2019 |
Too predictable. Romance novel. ( )
  danfango | Dec 4, 2018 |
Het orgineel van mijn review kan je vinden op mijn blog:

De wereld van Chinese immigranten in New York in Chinatown draait vooral om oude Chinese tradities. En merk je van het Westerse invloeden heel weinig. De worsteling van Charlie tussen de twee werelden is dan ook groot ( )
  LindaKwakernaat | Nov 29, 2018 |
I ❤️her writing! ( )
  fablibrarian | Nov 7, 2017 |
Charlie (an anglicization of Cha Lan, or beautiful orchid, a name which takes on significance in the story) is 22, and still living at home. She helps her father take care of her 11-year-old sister Lisa; their mother died of a stroke eight years previously. Charlie works as a dishwasher at the same restaurant in New York’s Chinatown in which her father serves as “noodle master.”

Charlie, an “ABC” (American-born Chinese), has always felt unattractive, especially as compared to her late mother, once a star ballerina in Beijing, who was “poised, elegant and beautiful.” Charlie dreams of being more like her Ma in her next life. But her Godmother Yuan tells her that even this life can be different; as she quotes from Lao Tzu: “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”

Charlie would love to let go - at least of dishwashing, and she responds to an ad for a receptionist at a ballroom dance studio. To her surprise, she gets the job. She tells her Pa, however, that she got a job doing data entry at a computer company; he is extremely protective and old-fashioned and she fears he would not approve.

Charlie isn’t very good as a receptionist though; she might have some type of dyslexia. But one day when the studio is short a new instructor for beginners, they ask Charlie to fill in for the day. Charlie helps her godmother teach tai chi so it isn’t such a stretch, and to everyone’s surprise, she does a great job. They decide to let her continue in the position, and help her by teaching her all the dance moves. She loves it.

At the dance studio she also picks up more than dance; she comes to learn something about beauty:

“Their attractiveness had more to do with how they moved, how they held themselves, than how they looked. . . I began to see beauty as something that could be unleashed from within a person rather than a set of physical features . . . "

Dancing made Charlie feel “free and strong, beautiful and courageous, capable of anything.” She was astounded to find that “for the first time, I felt as if I might have a chance to actually be good at something. Like Godmother said, nothingness was the beginning of the universe.”

Then Charlie falls for one of her students, Ryan, but he is white, and in any event he has a girlfriend already.

Charlie has troubles at home as well; something bad is happening to Lisa, who is losing her ability to walk. Their father won’t let them seek out Western Medicine to help Lisa, because it would cost too much money. Chinese medicine also has the advantage of emphasizing healing of both the body and soul. Unfortunately, not all of the practitioners of Chinese medicine are authentic. Losing money to charlatans is just as bad as losing money to western doctors.

Eventually, all the characters learn the lesson Ryan (seeming channeling Godmother Yuan) shared with Charlie: “Every change has a hello and a goodbye in it, you know? You always have to leave in order to go on to something new.”

Evaluation: This author is just lovely. She writes stories full of humor, wisdom, and creates strong females determined to overcome adversity. I didn't think this book was quite as good as her first book, Girl in Translation, but it was enjoyable nevertheless. And like that other book, this one would also make a great movie. ( )
  nbmars | Oct 30, 2017 |
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For Erwin, Stefan and Milan, and to the memory of my mother, Shuet King Kwok
First words
My name is Charlie Wong and I'm the daughter of a dancer and a noodle-maker.
"Every change has a hello and good-bye in it, you know? You always have to leave in order to go on to something new."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Twenty-two-year-old Charlie Wong, having grown up in New York's Chinatown as the older daughter of a Beijing ballerina and a noodle maker, is torn between her family duties in Chinatown and her escape into the world of ballroom dancing.

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