Title:The Not-so-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei
Author: Christina Matula
What's it about?
Holly-Mei's summer is not going as expected. First she managed to make everyone mad at her and isolate herself from her friends and then her parents announce that they are moving from Canada to China and, incase that's not bad enough, Holly-Mei's grandmother won't be moving with them, even though she has lived with the family for years!
The more Holly-Mei things about it, the more she realizes that this might not be a bad thing at all! This is a chance to get a new start, make new friends. But when she arrives, she is hit with the reality that change isn't always as easy as it seems and her mother's promotion is changing more then just her mother's location. The pressure for her to make a good impression, excel socially and academically is on and she's not all that sure she's up for the challenge but she's sure not willing to give up, either.
Favorite Character: Ah-ma wins this title! She's wise, loving and respects Hally-Mei as much as she respects anyone else. She also gives a nudge in the right direction but doesn't force her in the direction she wants the girls to go. She's soft, gentle and good at what she does.
Least Favorite Character: Gemma's parents. We don't get to see them much, but I feel like they put an awful lot of pressure on Gemma to keep up appearances that make them look good. They also come off to be incredibly selfish and self centered.
Favorite Part: When they go to the market. Not only do we get a small glimpse of the culture, it's also a point in which Holly-Mei really starts to see herself as an individual defined by her terms, not the terms of others.
This is a mixed bag for me. l appreciated that Holley-Mei is mixed race. Seeing Holly-Mei feel like she didn't entirely fit in becuase she didn't look quite like those around her and then hope that when they moved to China she's meet more people that were biracial was refreshing. It's something I've heard about but haven't seen much in books until recently.
However, I wish they would have represented the Chinese culture more. I love seeing other cultures. I might even like it more when that representation is found in books for younger people. I was excited to explore the Chinese culture and the experience of an immigrant from North America to across the world. I was disappointed when Holly-Mei's family moved to a very westernized community filled primarily with people and families who came from western Europe and North America right down to the prep school they attend. I'm sure this choice was made for some very good, logical reasons, but I just can't help but be disappointed with the lack of cultural inclusion.
I did like the range of real life struggles addressed from friendship, what is socially appropriate to say, family pressures, finding yourself, peer pressure and social interactions. l thought it was realistic and relatable, even, to some degree, to me, a grown adult.
At the end, I didn't dislike this book, but I didn't love it, either. I think this is a book for young girls who are a little awkward, who don't feel seen or like they fit in entirely. It was a sweet story and enjoyable enough, though I'm not entirely sure I'll be running out to get the second in the series when it is released ( and it's already a thing in the works).
I give this book a
10 family stories
But that's just me. What did you think? Did you love it? Let us know in the comments!