Book review: Chinglish by Sue Cheung

#WellLit is a space for children and young people to review new books through a human rights lens. It is a platform for them to explore connections between literature and human rights whilst upholding their right to a voice. Here you can find out what they really think about books that were written for them. Keep your eyes peeled as we will regularly upload new reviews. Feel free to share the review on social media.

Reviewed by Eisha Imtiaz, Lemington Spa

What it is about

Chinglish is one of the most captivating books I have ever read. I was unable to let go until I finished it. Chinglish is told from the perspective of the main character Jo, who suffers many human rights violations. These include the right to express her opinions. In the story her father doesn’t understand this and gets furious if any of the kids speak up. He physically abuses her and her siblings, for example, by throwing them against the walls. Even though both parents grew up without proper education themselves, they think denying it to their children is acceptable. While reading, I found that the parents never really cared for their children. This is evident when, for example, Jo’s mother calls her useless even though Jo would help her out with the takeaway business every day while trying to study at the same time. This made me realise that all three children were never given any respect and dignity, and I’m afraid that Larry, Jo’s new-born brother, would, unfortunately, go through the same…maybe even worse.

What doesn't work so well

Unfortunately we never get to read what the parents think and why they are doing the things they do. I think that it’s wrong for the parents to not look after their children but on the other hand, they are struggling to provide for their family which makes me sympathetic towards them.

Why I liked it

I really enjoyed reading this book because I just loved the way the author wrote it as a diary and it's also really funny. It is like a diary of events and I was able to imagine and relate to the things being said and done because of the mini drawings which helped fuel my imagination. I recommend everyone to read this timely and important book.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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