Gemma Huang graduated from high school a couple of weeks ago and since then, she’s moved to LA (from Illinois) to take a gap year of acting (much to her mother’s disappointment and her father’s worry).
After a few “hard” (note – me being sarcastic) weeks of trying out for parts, she manages to land the lead role in a redo of M. Butterfly.
She plays Sonia, who dresses as a man (Song) to get a job with her ex-boyfriend. The script is awful but at least she gets to work with her dream director!
She’s whisked away to China to film BUT (and this is a big BUT), she hides it all from her parents. Her mother has expressly forbidden her from talking about what life was like for her parents in China.
Gemma gets there and is immediately mistaken for Alyssa Chua – a wealthy socialite (19 yrs old). Turns out they’re cousins and together they begin to unravel why Gemma’s mom fled to America and has hidden their Chinese heritage.
So. On paper this one worked really well.
I loved the concept – it seemed like it was going to be a YA Crazy Rich Asians…except…it flopped for me.
There were elements that worked (LOVED the inclusion of Chinese culture and how the MC had issues trying to fit in with her American life and her Chinese heritage…but it felt like everything was handed to her.
She was in LA for like a week working “very hard” and then lands a major role. She gets one hot boy and then meets another hotter one.
She expresses the slightest doubt (despite having no movie experience) and she gets script changes. She learns that she’s rich and eventually gets money.
I wanted to watch her struggle and try and do her best and fail before hitting it big.
In addition, there were elements that just didn’t feel very well thought out.
If something is so serious that no one even talks about Tienanmen Square (and it’s been erased from the history books) why is she constantly blabbing about it? Isn’t she worried about consequences?
In addition, her mom told her that she couldn’t go to China and that she would have no idea what will happen if she does go.
To me…it clearly sounds crazy-dangerous to run to China and just talk to everyone she sees about her mom and Tienanmen Square but Gemma just barrels through. It felt like she needed more societal awareness.
Ultimately, there were elements that worked well but most of it just didn’t work for me. I’m leaving off my rating on Goodreads cause I don’t want people to be influenced by my interpretation.
With thanks to Netgalley, Amulet Books and Diana Ma for sending me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.