September 6, 2016

Review: Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung

Lucy and Linh
Author: Alice Pung
Genre: YA Contemporary
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers


Gilmore Girls meets Fresh Off the Boat in this witty novel about navigating life in private school while remaining true to yourself.

Lucy is a bit of a pushover, but she’s ambitious and smart, and she has just received the opportunity of a lifetime: a scholarship to a prestigious school, and a ticket out of her broken-down suburb. Though she’s worried she will stick out like badly cut bangs among the razor-straight students, she is soon welcomed into the Cabinet, the supremely popular trio who wield influence over classmates and teachers alike.

Linh is blunt, strong-willed, and fearless—everything Lucy once loved about herself. She is also Lucy’s last solid link to her life before private school, but she is growing tired of being eclipsed by the glamour of the Cabinet.

As Lucy floats further away from the world she once knew, her connection to Linh—and to her old life—threatens to snap. Sharp and honest, Alice Pung’s novel examines what it means to grow into the person you want to be without leaving yourself behind.

Lucy and Linh is a heartfelt young adult contemporary novel that will speak to readers of all ages and types. The main character, Lucy, is a great lead - she's realistic, down to earth, and easy to connect with. The story follows Lucy as she gets accepted into a prestigious school that will finally get her out of her run-down suburb of Stanley and what happens to her during her first year. The author broke the novel up into sections dedicated to each term of the school year, and each section begins with a letter from Lucy to her friend Linh, her only remaining link to Stanley. The author uses the first person point of view, which is a great fit for this book. It's a personal account of Lucy's life, so we get to experience it all right beside her, or as if she's writing the letters to the reader. I loved watching Lucy struggle with every day teen issues like popularity and trying to figure out who you want to be in life. I found it easy to empathize with Lucy and her story - it took me back to the days when I was in school and faced the same issues. The writing is well done with vivid descriptions and details, which brought the story to life right from the start. I'm not a huge fan of contemporary fiction, so this was a bit of a departure from my normal reading. Although it wasn't exactly my cup of tea, this is a fantastic novel full of life that all readers can relate to - regardless of age and background. Definitely recommended for fans of the genre!
Alice was born in Footscray, Victoria, a month after her parents Kuan and Kien arrived in Australia. Alice’s father, Kuan - a survivor of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime - named her after Lewis Carroll’s character because after surviving the Killing Fields, he thought Australia was a Wonderland. Alice is the oldest of four - she has a brother, Alexander, and two sisters, Alison and Alina.

Alice grew up in Footscray and Braybrook, and changed high schools five times - almost once every year! These experiences have shaped her as a writer because they taught her how to pay attention to the quiet young adults that others might overlook or miss.

Alice Pung’s first book, Unpolished Gem, is an Australian bestseller which won the Australian Book Industry Newcomer of the Year Award and was shortlisted in the Victorian and NSW Premiers’ Literary awards. It was published in the UK and USA in separate editions and has been translated into several languages including Italian, German and Indonesian.

Alice’s next book, Her Father’s Daughter, won the Western Australia Premier’s Award for Non-Fiction and was shortlisted for the Victorian and NSW Premiers’ Literary awards and the Queensland Literary Awards.

Alice also edited the collection Growing Up Asian in Australia and her writing has appeared in the Monthly, the Age, and The Best Australian Stories and The Best Australian Essays.

Alice is a qualified lawyer and still works as a legal researcher in the area of minimum wages and pay equity. She lives with her husband Nick at Janet Clarke Hall, the University of Melbourne, where she is the Artist in Residence.


 *A huge thank you to the awesome people at Random House for sending me a copy of the book for review!*


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