School Library Journal
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Gr 9 Up-This novel is a mostly successful exploration of teen "hapa" (half white, half Asian) life and the struggles unique to those who live between two distinct cultures. High school sophomore Patty Ho feels like she doesn't fit in anywhere: in her family, she is a distant second to her older brother; she sometimes feels out of place among her white friends; and she is decidedly concerned about fitting in at the math camp that she's getting ready to attend. When she arrives at Stanford University, however, Patty starts to see her situation a bit differently. The good-looking Asian boy she meets on the first day just might meet her strict mother's approval, and her new roommate is someone who, Patty notes, "breaks all the rules." Just when she's starting to enjoy math camp, her domineering mother arrives and, convinced that Patty is spending more time having fun than studying, threatens to bring her home. There are some funny and thoughtful moments in the narrative as the teen undergoes significant changes in her feelings about herself and her family. The first 75 pages set up her situation at home and at school; they are both funny and telling. However, some readers might be disappointed because they can't see Patty back in her "real world," and how her life has changed. In spite of these drawbacks, Headley's voice is a new and much-needed one that shows great promise.-Amy S. Pattee, Simmons College, Boston (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Gr. 8-11. In a wisecracking, first-person narrative reminiscent of Gaby Triana's Cuban0 ita (2005), half-Taiwanese Patty Ho calls herself "a Freakinstein cobbled together from Asian and white DNA." The 15-year-old feels as uncomfortable at school as she does at home, where her domineering Taiwanese mother subjects her to installments of the "Mama Lecture Series"--one of which ends in horrified Patty's enrollment in Stanford Math Camp. To her surprise, she actually likes the brainy, spirited campers, who encourage her to celebrate her hapa 0 (half-Asian) background and spur awakenings about both her intellect and her desirability (she upgrades from "ugly duckling" to "fiery hot chicky babe" by summer's end). Through a supportive aunt who lives near the camp, Patty also comes to a richer understanding of her tough but loving single parent. Headley lays on the empowering revelations with a trowel, and the stream of comic riffs, some of which miss the mark, slow this debut novel's pace. But Patty's contemporary, immediate thoughts about finding direction and relating to family have universal resonance, while her specific struggles will speak directly to biracial teens. --Jennifer Mattson Copyright 2006 Booklist
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Headley makes an impressive debut with this witty, intimate novel about a self-described "bizarrely tall Freakinstein cobbled together from Asian and white DNA," trying to find her niche. Patty Ho, the 14-year-old narrator feels conspicuously out of place whether she is socializing with her white classmates or among her mother's Taiwanese friends. Headley immediately conveys her heroine's sense of humor when she opens with a "Belly-Button Grandmother" who tells Patty's future by probing her belly. When the woman predicts that Patty will marry a white man, Patty's distraught, divorced mother-who would like nothing more than for her daughter to meet a nice Taiwanese boy-sends Patty to math camp at Stanford University. Despite some misgivings, Patty there finds adventure, romance and a level of freedom and acceptance that she has never experienced before. Guided by her outspoken Asian roommate, a compassionate counselor and an open-minded aunt who lives near the campus, Patty begins to view herself in a new light-not as an oddball, but rather as someone who has inherited the best of two different worlds. Through lively, first-person narrative punctuated with creative word play, the author encapsulates Patty's ups and downs and traces her heroine's emotional maturation during the course of an eventful summer. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved