Bitter Melon (Hardback)
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Short Description for Bitter Melon Set in the 1980s, this novel follows a young Chinese-American girl who attends an academically competitive school in San Francisco. Her strict mother wants her to be a doctor, but after she winds up in a speech class, she discovers she has a hidden talent.
- Published: 28 December 2010
- Format: Hardback 320 pages
- ISBN 13: 9781606841266 ISBN 10: 1606841262
- Sales rank: 625,014
Reviews for Bitter Melon
Reviewed by Jaglvr for TeensReadToo
As I turned the last page of BITTER MELON, I still couldn't decide if I should celebrate for Frances or feel sorry for her mother.... And thus is the crux of the story behind BITTER MELON.
We meet Frances, a senior at a private girl's school with the goal to gain entrance to Berkeley. As with most Asian American families in the San Francisco, California, area, Berkeley is the holy grail of colleges. Only the most worthy will gain entrance. And Frances has been groomed from an early age by her mother to excel and want nothing else but Berkeley - and ultimately a degree in medicine.
A scheduling snafu at school lands Frances in speech class instead of calculus. She tells herself she will fix her schedule before the deadline, but before she knows it, the deadline has passed and she finds she not only excels in class, but she likes it. And her teacher, Ms. Taylor, inspires her and is nothing like any other teacher she's ever had.
Of course, speech does not fit in Frances' mother's plans. But with the coaxing of Ms. Taylor and the guidance counselor from school, her mother comes around to the idea of speech being an "extra-curricular" on Frances' college applications. But as with everything else, Frances has to come in first or it's not worth her time.
BITTER MELON encompasses Frances' senior year. The reader gets to know the hardships that Frances has to endure at the hands of her mother (sometimes literally.) Frances isn't allowed any after school activities and boys are a no no. She meets Derek at an SAT prep class that her mother constantly bemoans the cost of, even though Frances did not ask to attend. As Derek shows interest in Frances, her mother becomes more and more hostile in her actions and words.
I hate to think that Frances' life as portrayed in BITTER MELON is a common occurrence. The expectations placed on Frances were unreal and at times cruel. Frances did the only thing such confinement would be expected to lead to - she rebels. Though her rebellion is not outright, the subtle tugging on her strings is enough to make France realize that she wanted nothing more than her own dreams. Nothing she would ever accomplish would satisfy her mother, and gaining her confidence as the year passes increases her need to be free. by TeensReadToounder review