Saturday, November 11, 2006
You're Kidding, Right? Two Maths in a row? How is this happening?
I didn't do it on purpose. I swear it. I had no idea that Justina Chen Headley's Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies) was about a girl who goes to math camp. Really. Nor did I intentionally read it right after another math-oriented book. Total coincidence. I will say, however that despite hearing that Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies) was very good, I declined reading it for quite some time. Mostly because it the title irritated me. It recalled to me an old Avi book (Nothing But the Truth, gee, I wonder why) that I remember liking back when I was a teen. See, I was being loyal. But, really, what's in a name? A Rose is a Rose, and all that.
This is my third Asian-American experience novel this year. All have very strong female protagonists who struggle with previous generations' expectations/fears/prejudices. Each is extremely different than the last. This one is my favorite, and like An Abundance of Katherines, math was represented throughout the plot. This time in amusing proofs.
When Patty Ho gets a fortune revealing that she will marry a white boy (and have 3 children, no less!) her single Taiwanese mother packs her off to Stanford Math Camp, because really? Where else would she find a bunch of smart Asian boys (at least in her mother's mind)? Despite Patty's desperate need not to be an Asian stereotype, she can only hide her brilliance to a degree. She thrives, much to her surprise, at camp. When her mother shows up unexpectedly, Patty must face her heritage, her mother's past, and what she really wants in life.
This was sweet. Unbelievably well done. Engaging, humorous and realistic.