Title: My Summer of Love and Misfortune
Author: Lindsay Wong
Publication Date: 2 June 2020
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Number of Pages: 352
Summary: From Goodreads: “Iris Wang is having a bit of a rough start to her summer. In an attempt to snap her out of her funk, Iris’s parents send her away to visit family in Beijing, with the hopes that Iris will “reconnect with her culture” and “find herself.” Iris resents her parents’ high-handedness, but even she admits that this might be a good opportunity to hit the reset button.
Iris expects to eat a few dumplings, meet some of her family, and visit a tourist hotspot or two. What she doesn’t expect is to meet a handsome Mandarin-language tutor named Frank and to be swept up in the ridiculous, opulent world of Beijing’s wealthy elite, leading her to unexpected and extraordinary discoveries about her family, her future, and herself.”
Review: Thank you Net Galley and Simon and Schuster for providing me with an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I want to start by saying that this review might be more of a rant because I did not like this book. I also want to give a warning that this review might contain some spoilers because of the ranting, so read it at your own risk.
Iris Wang is one of the most unlikable characters I have ever had the displeasure of meeting in a book. She is self-centred, egotistical, reckless, narcissistic, inconsiderate, and thoughtless. After a string of particularly terrible decisions, her parents decide to send her to Beijing to live with her Uncle and reconnect with her culture. When she gets to Beijing, her terrible, self-centred decision making continues, and I’m surprised I didn’t scream or throw my Kindle while reading about it.
This book was advertised as Crazy Rich Asians meets Love & Gelato, and I thought I was going to love it. Crazy Rich Asians is an amazing trilogy, and I cannot recommend it enough, and Love & Gelato is one of my favourite YA books. I don’t want to say that these comparisons were inaccurate because, at the most basic level, they were. This book does feature a wealthy Asian family who finds themselves in a handful of crazy situations. It also features a teenage girl being sent to another country to live with family she didn’t know she had. However, in my opinion, this is where the comparison to Crazy Rich Asians and Love & Gelato ends, and this book lacks any of the charm or humour of Crazy Rich Asians and Love & Gelato.
The main reason why I didn’t like this book is that it’s very character-driven, and I couldn’t stand the main character. I couldn’t wrap my head around how someone could be so self-centred and inconsiderate, especially while their parents dreamt about them getting into an Ivy League school. I found myself asking, “who does that?!” on multiple occasions while reading this book because Iris’s impulses were absurd. I also couldn’t wrap my head around Iris’s inability to use her brain and use any logic. Almost all of her decisions were incredibly inconsiderate and self-serving, and every time I thought she might be improving as a person, she would do something to remind me why I disliked her. I do realize that there are people out there who are like this (*looks towards 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue*), but I didn’t find it enjoyable to read about. I also understand that her intentions were mostly good, but when your actions are consistently bad, it doesn’t matter what your intentions were or how many times you apologize. Even at the end, when she started to become a better person, it was clear that she was still focused on how it made her look and how it helped her.
If there was a character I disliked more than Iris, it would be her friend (or former friend) Samira. Samira played a very minor role in this book, but what she did irritated me so much. All I will say is if you steal your friend’s significant other, don’t tag your friend in all of your social media posts featuring your new (their ex) significant other.
Now I want to take some time to rant about Iris’s parents; specifically, I want to ask how they didn’t realize that their daughter had gotten herself into so much trouble? I understand that teenagers lie and that a parent shouldn’t have to monitor everything their teenager does, but I don’t know how they could go from thinking their daughter was going to Yale to finding out she failed high school? That’s a massive difference, and I can’t comprehend how they didn’t catch on that she was doing poorly academically. Also, if you give your teenager a credit card, set a low credit limit and pay attention to the transactions!
One character that grew on me was Iris’s cousin Ruby. At first, I didn’t like her, and I thought she was just as bad as Iris. As the book went on, I started to tolerate her because there was a reason behind her actions. I also liked that she competed in competitive dog-grooming pageants, and I thought that was a fun and unique hobby.
This book did have some good moments and discussions about family, family secrets, and forgiveness. Unfortunately, since most of these moments were drowned out by Iris, I didn’t enjoy them as much as I normally would.
Overall, I’m surprised that I finished this book. Since the plot was very character-driven, and I couldn’t stand the main character, it was a struggle to get through. Every possible redeeming moment was ruined by one of Iris’s poor decisions, and it was a struggle because Iris didn’t have a backstory that justified her behaviour. I was disappointed with this book, and I thought that the comparisons to Crazy Rich Asians and Love & Gelato were misleading, and unfortunately, I do not recommend it.
Rating: 2 Stars!