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3.88  ·  Rating details ·  129 ratings  ·  41 reviews
It is difficult trying to talk in our family cos:
a) Grandparents don’t speak English at all
b) Mum hardly speaks any English
c) Me, Bonny and Simon hardly speak Chinese
d) Dad speaks Chinese and good English – but doesn’t like talking
In other words, we all have to cobble together tiny bits of English and Chinese into a rubbish new language I call 'Chinglish'. It is very awkward.

Jo Kwan is a teenager g/>In/>d)/>c)/>b)
Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 5th 2019 by Andersen Press
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Average rating 3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  129 ratings  ·  41 reviews

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Whispering Stories
Oct 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Book reviewed on

1984, thirteen-year-old Jo Kwan’s parents have bought a Chinese takeaway in Coventry, meaning that she no longer has to reside above the horrid butcher’s shop in Hull and that she will now be living in the same city as her older brother, who lives with their Grandparents.

Unfortunately, things don’t go quite according to plan. The shop is only small which means the accommodation above is tiny too, just two-bedrooms and no living-room. This is not good, she no
At first, I quite enjoyed this quirky novel that read like younger YA and reminded me of the Georgia Nicholson books with its lightheartedness and diary entries.

But it quickly became apparent that the book also dealt with some heavy topics, that became more and more prevalent the further the book went on.

Ultimately, I just didn't know what this book was trying to achieve by portraying such horrible abuse in such a quirky format. The result was that any real emotional dept
Jun 19, 2019 rated it liked it
DISCLAIMER: I want to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to Anderson Press who reached out to me and asked me to review Chinglish. I am honoured to have been given the opportunity.

“How do you explain you don’t speak Chinese when you parents are Chinese, you look Chinese and you live in a Chinese takeaway?!”

When I was asked if I wanted an advanced reading copy of this book for review I knew I needed to get my hands on it. Instantly the synopsis drew me, I thought that it would be a gre
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book will make readers feel all sorts of emotions while reading the story—laugh at the comedic scenes, pity for what the characters go through, anger for how they are being treated by the people around them, happy as they are feeling happy and sad when they are too. This book is inspired by the author's almost entirely true story of her childhood and I'm not sure how I feel about that, to be honest.

Reading Jo Kwan's story makes me want to fight along her battles against all the injustices
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was (for the most part) a fun novel in the format of a diary. It definitely had some of the vibes of classic diary novels, like Adrian Mole, and there are plenty of hilarious, laugh out loud moments.

Jo's story had so many elements, and there are certainly a lot of lessons to take from it. To me this read as a classic teenage novel, and I know I would have adored it if I had read it at 14-15, which is, I think, the intended age. Jo learns to appreciate herself, and her 'weirdness', she lear
Kirsty Stanley
Sep 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Told in diary format over the years 1984 - 1987 this initially reminded me of Adrian Mole. I also got a blast from the past with some of the references. Who else remembers Wimpy?
Jo Kwan and her family move to Coventry and run and live above a Chinese takeaway 🥡 (hence my picture - like I needed an excuse to order tasty food - thankfully no chicken’s feet in my order tho!).
Through the character of Jo, Sue Cheung tells her own semi-autobiographical story of growing up in 80s England and finding
Nov 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
“It’s hard to work out whether I’m Chinese or English but I know this for sure, the following aren’t normal no matter where you’re from:

* Exploding goats (don’t ask)
* Dealing with drunk customers (argh)
* Boiling maggots (ditto)
* Summer holidays to Little Chef (exotic)
* Mum trying to marry me off to David Wong (shudder)”

As Chinglish is a middle grade book, I’m not really the intended audience, and this wouldn’t be my normal genre choice, however it
Alec Cizak
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In a time when collectivism is pushed by the status quo (i.e., conformity) over individuality, it's refreshing to see a book, particularly a book aimed at young readers, that promotes individuality. Chinglish tells the story of a teenager growing up between cultures in 1980s England. She doesn't quite identify as Chinese, doesn't quite identify as English. She's a girl with no country! Of course, when tribalism fails the intelligent, individuality will emerge. This is a book that could only come ...more
The Bookish Faerie
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Big thank you to @definitely books for sending me a ARC of Chinglish. This book will be in all good bookstores in September 2019! #chinglishbook

I speak Chinglish with my family. I am a Chinese from Malaysia. I am a Chinese-Malaysian. Hence,I can relate to this book a lot. Chinglish is an almost entirely true story by Sue Cheung. It tells the story of Jo Kwan living in the UK with her Chinese family. They are not well off, thus they need to save money on redundant things. Her family o
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Hilarious and devastating at the same time - my full review here:
Katy Noyes
Oct 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Issues abound in this 80s-set adolescent story set behind the takeaway till.

I love a good diary narrative. Easy to read, fast-moving and chatty, the first-person private thoughts suit the teenage novel well.

And here, Jo Kwan's diary, which begins as a slightly hard-done-by Chinese/English teen telling us about having to move house, slowly morphs into something that becomes quite dark, despite moments of injected fun and lightness.

Jo's parents have had to downs
Aug 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Thank you to Netgalley for an ARC of this book!

This book had its highs and lows. Let's start with the highs: I'm a sucker for a diary format and an even bigger sucker for a diary format with illustrations. The illustrations are at times hilarious and definitely shows the age of the protagonist (this is a downfall however because at times the protagonist may sound quite young for their age!).

I think there is a solid family story in there and the story doesn't hinge on any big mystery
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: borrowed
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.

It took me longer than usual to read 'Chinglish', not because of the writing style, which was always fluent and engaging, but because I just so desperately wanted Jo and her siblings to completely escape from their toxic environment and the fact this this is partly autobiographical made this even harder to bear.
This was an informative and heartrending read in equal measure, especially with the initia
Eve beinguniquebooks
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jo and her crazy Chinese and English aka Chinglish, family move to Coventry to live in two rooms above a Chinese takeaway her parents run.

As her younger sister makes friends with an older girl, shoplifts and smokes, her brother Simon was caught stealing and went to live with their grandparents while Jo is left longing for a better future than being married off or owning the takeaway!

We see Jo make friends with goth Tina, get her first boyfriend, de
Christina Reid
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
I picked this up yesterday intending to read a few chapters but ended up staying up late to finish it! The story follows Jo Kwan, a British-born Chinese girl who has just moved to an apartment above a Chinese takeaway with her younger sister Bonny and her parents, both originally from Hong Kong. Her older brother, Simon, lives with their grandparents not too far away. It is told in the form of a diary over three years of Jo's life, starting as a light-hearted recount of the good things in her li ...more
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This reminded me so much of my beloved Judy Blumes from childhood! As an old duffer now, I find it fascinating to see things from a young person's perspective and Sue Cheung does this very well through Jo Kwan. It puts me in mind of the saying about not expecting your child to tell you the big stuff if you don't listen to the small stuff, for that was the big stuff to them all along. As adults, I think we forget the way that children see the minutiae we often overlook. I guess we are too busy sw ...more
Sep 30, 2019 rated it did not like it
TW: racism, child abuse

Ehhhh I really do not have much to say about this book apart from the fact that it really isn't for me. I don't think i've seen one bad review about this book so was excited to read it but it just really missed the mark for me and I feel like i've really missed something about this book that everyone else has seen.

I didn't really find it funny at all; I feel quite bad saying it but I was just quite bored throughout and never really enjoyed it. It's
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
At first I was going to write a review asking who is this book for? Who is it marketed at? I grew up in the 80s and very much enjoyed all the references to the culture of that time. But felt that this would go over the heads of young teen readers for sure. The style of the book was appealing to those young teens but was too young for adults. However, the second half of the book really picks up and gains gravitas, as the author describes what is effectively slave labour and child abuse. The impen ...more
Rachel Patrick
Sep 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Now I wanted to read this for a number of reasons 1- it is set in Coventry, where I live, and that is rare! 2- I was also moved here as a young child. 3- it sounded excellent! .
This is told in diary form so I found it to be a quick read but so much was packed into it! It's funny and heartbreaking all at once. Jo is writing her diary of moving to Coventry and of life living above her parents Chinese takeaway. While it is hilarious to read about her goats and some of her family's anti
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you are looking for another book that has a whole new way to say about immigrant youth after Gene Luen Yang's American Born Chinese, look no further! Chinglish lets you grow with a girl who's triple-marginalized in the 80's: a Chinese person in UK, a Chinees person whose parents didn't even speak Mandarin, and a girl with an abusive father. It's funny and heartbreaking at the same time, both the language and the drawing. And of course, it's ever so cool to pretend you have that bloody British ...more

The Chinglish book definitely succeeds with the diary-format of storytelling better than a lot of other "diaries" out there. How much of Sue Cheung's diary is authentic isn't clear, the book is inspired by her childhood and it's 3 years of her teens in the 80s.

The second half of the book was more engaging for me. Throughout the first half of the book I felt like there was an underlying thing I was missing and this made more sense once the diary become the full account of family life.
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved the quirkiness of this book, and felt so much for the heroine, Jo, as she tried to negotiate the twists and turns of family and school life in the 1980s. Some of the issues are universal (moving to a new area, making friends, dealing with bullies) while others are specific to her own background (her 'eccentric' Chinese family and their expectations of her). The funky illustrations really make it stand out and take the edge off some challenging themes nearer the end. My only criticism wou ...more
Nov 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
I bought this on a whim, hoping it would be appropriate for my class but it was slightly too old and the issues covered were very sensitive. It was, however, a really funny, quick-flowing and inciteful read for younger teens. I wouldn't call it 'YA' as the age range would probably be 13-15, it can feel a little childish at times. However, it definitely would be a good story for someone of that age to read as it writes well about issues of abuse, identity and difference.
Sophie The Small
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: authors-of-color
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Suzanne Bhargava
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teen-fiction
This book surprised me. A few chapters in, I pegged it as “Chinese-British Confessions of Georgia Nicholson.” Because it had that feel - lighthearted, funny, often a bit bonkers, full of awkward moments. Then all of a sudden the story took a turn, and it planted a heavy little stone in my chest, that sits with me still.
Oct 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This story made me laugh and it made me cry, and I didn’t want to put it down.
Then I gave it to my son to read (age 10). He disappeared off to bed and read a good deal before going to sleep... the next morning he was so engrossed in it that he was still in his pyjamas when I was bellowing in his ear hole that we were about to leave for school. This is high praise indeed!
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Hilarious, heart-wrenching, honest.
What started as the ethnic version of Adrian Mole turned into a frank account of living with an abusive parent. Great insights into the lives of Chinese immigrants to the UK and a frank account of what it means to be a teenager under difficult circumstances - with an ultimate triumph over her life circumstances. Highly recommended!
Oct 16, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was entertaining enough for me. Although what I thought this book would be similar to “Diary of the wimpy kid” It was actually not. This book might be quirky, funny and entertaining, but there are some things and serious discussion about neglect, racism, and abuse.

Overall, it is a good read. With all books coming out discussing about some heavy issues in our society, this book surely got it all.

Thank You @definitelybooks for the ARC!
Mrs Craig
Nov 04, 2019 rated it liked it
This was an intriguing book. It was lighthearted and funny but dealt with some serious issues at the same time. Having been a teenager in the same era there was lots to relate to but my overwhelming emotion was sadness at seeing our narrator struggling to balance the expectations of a traditional (and poor) Chinese family with 1980s England.
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