Rated of 5
by Jane (Prospect KY)
Sweet Mandarin by Helen Tse
I was a little ambivalent about this book. On one hand it contained a good amount of interesting, historical information about Hong Kong as well as Chinese culture. On the other hand, it just never grabbed my heart .... and the worst thing is, I'm not sure why.
It was an intensely personal account of a family's struggle to keep their family together through financial hardship, particularly through the strength of the central figure, Lily, the author's grandmother.
I felt the author kept the reader at an arm's distance from the "meat" of the story. It could be that she herself was kept at that distance and that's the only way she could retell the story. I felt it would have been a much more memorable read if the author could have lost herself a little more in the actual action of the book and filled in a little bit more to make the book read more smoothly.
It definitely read like an author's first attempt at commercial writing. I don't think it will make any 'must read' list of 2008 but it was an interesting historical perspective on an immigrant family of that era.