My Summer of Love and Misfortune by Lindsay Wong is a novel I was positive I would enjoy based on the premise. I love books about characters connecting with their culture, and the Beijing setting is immersive. However, the main character is unrealistically clueless, and there is not a single thing I liked about her. This book seems like an attempt to be quirky, but it instead becomes cringey and difficult to relate to.Title: My Summer of Love and Misfortune
Author: Lindsay Wong
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genres: Contemporary, Diverse
Publication Date: June 2, 2020
A novel about a Chinese-American teen who is thrust into the world of Beijing high society when she is sent away to spend the summer in China.
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.
❃ I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. ❃
Review: My Summer of Love and Misfortune
This book is immediately overdramatic. Iris Wang, a rich teen, fails her classes and crashes her parents’ car, so she is sent to Beijing to learn about her heritage and hopefully change her ways. I was interested in this one because characters connecting with their culture is typically a plot I enjoy. The descriptions of Chinese culture were well done (especially the food), although the main character does not appreciate any of this. Honestly, the setting was one of the only aspects of the novel I truly enjoyed, but it was dampened because of the main character’s disinterest.
❀ Dislikable Main Character
My biggest issue with this novel is the main character. Iris is selfish, ignorant, and incredibly dislikable. I understand that she is meant to be spoiled so that she can grow at the end of the book, but I was not convinced that Iris had changed after almost 400 pages of her antics. One of the things I hated most about her is how unrealistic she is. There is a long list of things Iris has said that are completely unbelievable, but the ones that come to mind are the fact that she does not know what a museum is, nor climate change, nor where China is on the map. All she really does is spend money and use the fact that she was born in the year of the Tiger as an excuse for everything. I had a lot of difficulty rooting for Iris, let alone connecting with her.
❀ Romance is Completely Flat
While the story manages to be over the top, it is also completely flat. The romance is poorly written, and Frank and Iris have no connection. I have issues with the way Frank is clearly not interested in Iris, but she continues to pressure him into a relationship. There is also very little character development, and Iris does not really “transform” until the last pages of the book. Much of the plot could have been exciting, but it is too unrealistic to become invested in. I believe this stems from the author trying too hard to be quirky and funny. I don’t know a single person who could possibly be as clueless as Iris, and instead of being entertaining, the story is frustrating to read.
❀ Lots of Potential for a Fun Summer Read
My Summer of Love and Misfortune has so much potential to be a fun summer read. I enjoyed the setting, but the main character’s ignorance made her unrealistic and annoying. Too much of the plot seems exaggerated for it to be enjoyable. This one was not for me.