Monday, July 25, 2011

Review: Subway Girl

Subway Girl
P.J. Converse
2011; HarperTeen; ISBN 978-0-06-157514-3 (hardcover)

Summary: In Hong Kong, Simon and Amy are lost in translation in different ways.  Simon keeps flunking his English exams, which means he won't graduate from high school.  Amy, recently arrived from San Francisco, can't speak Chinese.  When Simon sees Amy on the subway, she seems cool, gorgeous, special.  After he works up the courage to speak to her, they slowly become friends.  Amy helps Simon improve his English.  Simon is there for Amy when she gets pregnant with her ex-boyfriend's baby.  As they begin to speak the same language  the distance between their backgrounds becomes smaller.

With sensitive insight, Subway Girl explores the interaction of different cultures.  The reader sees Simon's frustration and confusion over learning English, gaining appreciation for how hard it is for non-English speakers in a world where English is the lingua franca.  Amy's journey is more subtle, showing a young woman trying to navigate a strange place--her own mind and soul.  Written by debut novelist P.J. Converse, Subway Girl stays small and focused on Simon and Amy.  It's a quick read that would be enjoyed by readers curious about other parts of the world.

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