Between the Bookcovers

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Author: P. J. Converse
Published: March 15, 2011
Pages: 224
Rating: 3/5 Stars

Description from Goodreads:

He is shy. Unassuming. Inexperienced.

She is Subway Girl. Cool. Unattainable.

From the moment he sees her on a Hong Kong subway, Simon is intrigued by Amy, but he doesn't have the nerve to talk to her. When he finally works up the courage, he realizes he can't. Because Amy doesn't speak Chinese, and Simon is failing English.

But somehow, Amy and Simon connect, and they find that they understand each other. Enough for Simon to admit that he is dropping out of school. Enough for Amy to confess that she is pregnant with her ex-boyfriend's baby. Amy and Simon feel lost in a world so much bigger than they are, and yet they still have each other.

In this brilliant debut by P. J. Converse, two unlikely teenagers discover that love has a language all its own.


Review:

Simon grew up in Hong Kong in a traditional Chinese speaking family. Owners of a small shop, his parents do not understand his need for education or the need to speak English. Now Simon is failing English in school and will soon have to leave school for a job that does not require a higher education. Amy grew up in San Francisco. When her parents separate her mother brings her to Hong Kong where she was raised. Amy is "the Subway Girl" a beautiful, mysterious girl who rides the subway back and forth to school without speaking to anyone. One day Simon decides to speak to her and finds out that she does not speak very much Chinese. Suddenly Simon has a reason to speak English, as he pursues Amy. But Amy is dealing with serious problems: an abusive boyfriend and an unplanned pregnancy. The novel follows two teens from very different backgrounds as they discover each other and work through their problems.


The story is told by Simon and Amy, each alternating chapters. Their voices are realistic and ring true for teens who have poor adult role models and lack the understanding of their peers. Their characters were well developed but I really wanted to understand the emotional impact of Amy's pregnancy more, instead it was treated as another event in her life, like a school event or movie that she had to attend.


Their relationship developed slowly, as one would expect with a language barrier. The difference in language was used help Simon improve his English, and maybe his life if he can pass the exam and stay in school. They come to rely on each other as Amy helps to tutor Simon so he can try to pass the test. Simon helps Amy as she deals with her pregnancy and the complications that come with it.


I do have to applaud Converse for tackling important topics like pregnancy, dating violence and abortion. The book left me wanting to know how life turned out for Amy and Simon and the ending was not perfect, but neither is real life and I think this is the message that Converse was trying to relay.


Rating: A good book that deals with important teen issues

About This Blog

I review mostly Young Adult literature, any genre. I also review other fiction, especially horror, science fiction and historical novels. I also have occasional giveaways.

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