'Revolution Is Not A Dinner Party' by Ying Chang Compestine

Revolution Is Not A Dinner Party’ by Ying Chang Compestine was difficult for me to pick up at first because I don’t usually read novels based on facts. It turned out to be a pleasant change from what I usually read, which is fantasy with magical things and flying unicorns. Ling’s family dreamed of going to San Francisco, but those dreams get pushed further aside when Chairman Mao decides to “recreate” China.

Both of Ling’s parents are doctors at a hospital in Wuhan. Everything is peaceful until Ling and her family have to share their house with Comrade Lee, a communist under Chairman Mao. Neighbors start disappearing around them and Ling loses her friend because of her bourgeois background. Her friend tells her that she's afraid of looking like a bourgeois sympathizer.

Compestine’s writing in the book made me laugh out loud, for instance, she wrote, “I secured the first elastic band around my father’s slippery ponytail. Would my singing neighbor feel as happy as I was when she could finally reach the high note? I wished she would get there soon—or sing a different song.” I would give this book 4 ½ daggers out of 5 only because it left me wondering whether Ling and her family ever ended up in San Francisco.

--Twyla Lee


'Not Like You' by Deborah Davis

I must admit, when I first started reading 'Not Like You' by Deborah Davis, I was a little worried. I didn't want to read another bloody story where a girl within my relative age group has too much sex. But there it was: "Two-and-a-Half-Minute Hal" ( a dreadful bloke) was sleeping with Kayla, our beloved heroine. Within the first two pages. So yeah, I hesitated. But I read on. I wanted to know what was going to happen between Kayla and her alcoholic-on-the-mend-but-not-really mother, Marilyn. Despite my initial misgivings, I found myself sucked into the story. I was angry at Marilyn when she got drunk, happy when Kayla found friends in her new town, and disappointed in her when she made stupid mistakes (which happened fairly often).

Kayla struggled with her age quite a bit. At only fifteen, she had had to take care of her mother constantly and deal with their frequent moves (the most recent of which was to New Mexico at the beginning of the book) and was very mature for her age. With that idea of her own maturity, she began a relationship with Remy, a musician nine, years her senior. She found herself trapped between adolescence and adulthood as their relationship progressed. Confused by her feelings for him and his for her, she made some big mistakes.

'Not Like You' is an honest, heartfelt, well told story of a teenage girl struggling to find a place for herself in an unsteady new life. Despite being a bit iffy in places, the book was enjoyable and I was entirely satisfied with the ending. I bestow upon this book the rank of three and a half daggers (out of five).

Until next time......Avery Trelaine

I was intrigued by a few excerpts I had heard before I read the book. One thing I didn’t get was why Kayla had a beer with Remy when she saw how her mother got when she drank. I was proud of Kayla at the end of the book for letting go of Remy and realizing that he was too old for her. I ended up enjoying the book so much, I couldn’t put it down. I give this book 4 daggers out of 5.

--Twyla Lee


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