This review was originally posted on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!
A book about an Asian teen living in Australia dealing with theThis review was originally posted on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!
A book about an Asian teen living in Australia dealing with the traditional values of her parents and her Western classmates – where was this book when I was in high school?
Even though Cloudwish isn’t written by an #ownvoices author, I found it incredibly relatable as it highlighted things that I’ve experienced as a second generation immigrant. It covers the same family pressures that I went through at school – parents pushing you to study, needing to translate everything for them, coming from a difficult past and not wanting to talk about it, and their displacement from their immediate family. There were so many relatable pearls of wisdom that I found throughout the book, such as the Asian fail being an A-, study being the number 1 priority over your social life and speaking to your parents with a mixture of basic Vietnamese/broken English (or in my case, Chinese). Cloudwish is the first book that I’ve read that really captures what it’s like to be from an Asian immigrant family and it was captured in a frank and honest manner.
For my fellow Australians, you’ll know that refugees or asylum seekers have a stigma attached to them. Van Uoc’s parents came to Australia by boat, escaping Vietnam for a better future. It was heartbreaking hearing about everything they went through in their escape, from starvation, dehydration, loneliness and fear of the unknown. Van Uoc rarely hears about her parents talking about how they made it to Australia, only knowing that it was a traumatising experience with her mother suffering from PTSD over it. Van Uoc’s family isn’t exactly living in poverty, but they’re not well off either and reading about their experience was really eye-opening.
I also enjoyed the values of feminism covered in Cloudwish, like how females rely on makeup to meet manufactured ideals of beauty while males don’t have to do this. It was refreshing to hear this covered in such a frank manner, as one of the examples of valuable social commentary provided in the book.
At the heart of Cloudwish, is a sweet, innocent love story where Van Uoc makes a wish that her crush, also the most popular guy in school would fall in love with her. This is where things went downhill for me – Billy sounds like a guy who I’ve read about a thousand times over – the popular guy in school who is forced by his parents to become a jock, but starts dating a girl whom his parents won’t approve of. Like Van Uoc, I felt suspicious of Billy, as someone who starts stalking her and suddenly knowing everything there is to know about her. I loved how she bravely confronted him about it, but even then it still wasn’t convincing enough for me. I mean, where is Billy’s group of friends and high school buddies? How does Van Uoc fit in with all of them? And are we to believe that he suddenly starts noticing her in English class which begins his obsession over her? It wasn’t particularly believable for me #loveskeptic.
The writing was also quite stunted, written in past tense but forced into present tense. It didn’t flow naturally at all and felt pretty awkward in some parts, which affected my enjoyment of the novel. Despite Van Uoc’s experiences which relatively echoed mine while growing up in Australia, I also felt a disconnect with her character which I felt was partly due to the writing.
While I wasn’t a fan of the romance or the writing in some parts, I loved how refreshing Cloudwish was, capturing my experience growing up in Australia as a second generation immigrant. Covering a range of topics dealing with refugees, immigrant families, disconnect from your parents and feminism, Cloudwish would be extremely relatable for Asian teens – or those from other cultures living in a Western country....more