Frances, a Chinese-American student at an academically competitive school in San Francisco, has always had it drilled into her to be obedient to her mother and to be a straight-A student so that she can go to Med school. But is being a doctor what she wants? It has never even occurred to Frances to question her own feelings and desires until she accidentally winds up in speech class and finds herself with a hidden talent. Does she dare to challenge the mother who has sacrificed everything for her?Bitter Melon tells the inspirational story of Frances, a Chinese-American girl who is controlled by her verbally abusive mother, as she fights and struggles to break out of her mother’s mental chokehold and create the life she wants for herself.
This book isn’t just another contemporary novel. It breaks the mold from the rest, telling an unforgiving raw and real story without all the sugarcoating and sprinkled happiness. Frances’ mother is so unbelievably horrible to her, but Cara Chow writes is so naturally, as if it’s almost considered okay for a mother to talk to her child like that. But it’s not. And this book had me so riled up, wanting to reach through the pages and punch her mother in face repeatedly. And even though I was so angry, I was very pleased. I say this a lot, but any book that can elicit that kind of strong reaction from me is definitely written right.
Not surprisingly, Frances inadvertently inhabits some of her mother’s harsh personality. Her thoughts towards classmates and her cousin Theresa were sometimes downright nasty and mean-spirited. I’m not sure if it was intended or not, but either way, it adds another layer of realness onto Frances and her story.
Overall, Bitter Melon is inspiring and harsh and I enjoyed it very much. Even though it seemed to fly under the radar with all of the recent releases lately, I think it’s one that deserves a chance and it’s definitely one that I recommend to all readers!
Other reviews for Bitter Melon:
Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf.
The Book Swarm.
The Electrical Book Cafe.