Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Book Review - Jin-Ling's 2 Left Feet by Helen Chen

Jin-Ling's Two Left Feet
Author: Helen Chen
Year: 2009
Page: 202
Genre: Young Adult

New to me author? Yes
Read this author again? Yes
Tearjerker? No
Where did it take place? US
FTC Disclosure: Bought this from the author

Summary (from
Like the yin and the yang, Jin-Ling is comprised of two equal parts that fit together. One part is the dutiful Chinese daughter who does everything her immigrant parents expect of her, and the other part is the American teenage girl who yearns for the independence that she sees her peers taking for granted every day. Jin-Ling would do anything to have Tony Blake - the smartest boy in school - for her prom date. Tony not only has the look that her friends would approve, but also meets her parents' definition of a "good" boy. Jin-Ling's hopes are shattered when she finds out Tony is going to prom with Kim - one of her very best friends. What should she do? No matter what she decides, it seems that Jin-Ling is destined to always feel as if she is walking on two left feet - feet that are often heading in opposite directions. In "Jin-Ling's Two Left Feet", Helen Chen explores the challenges and struggles of fitting in with a touching and sensitive narrative of an Asian American teenager's voice. Heartwarming and humorous, this compelling story of clashing cultural expectations and self identity will be enjoyed and related to by all who come across it.

First Sentence:
I through Brownie, my ten-year-old teddy bear, up in the air again and again while lying in bed under a sheet and comforter.

Why did I pick this book?
The author works at the same company (30,000+ staff) as I do. We met by chance through a mutual friend and had struck up a friendship ever since. So of course I have to buy her book when it came out, especially since she's donating part of her book sales to charities! I had always enjoyed her writing on her blog. It's pretty cool to have an author friend don't you think? :)

My thoughts:
  • I will try to stay objective, but I will also be honest like I do with all reviews :) I started reading the book a few days before my 3 weeks trip to Hong Kong and Guam. I was very busy at work (trying to tie up loose ends as much as I could) and had not yet packed (and I don't like packing AT ALL). However, I still managed to find time to squeeze in reading the book even if it meant sleeping less
  • This is an easy read and the characters are believable - I could totally identify with Jin-Ling ("J") even though there were some differences among our up-bring and our parents weren't quite the same. 
  • The downside is that because I can so related to J, the story became a bit predictable for me since I could imagine myself in her place. On the flip side, that could be a strength in that the story is realistic - so for those who are not familiar with Asian American (or Asian Brits or Asian Australian or...) this will provide you some insight on the culture. 

What I like the most about Liz is that she doesn't have layers. Unlike me -- where a polite layer covers an angry layer, a Chinese layer fights with an American layer, and on top of it all, I try to be as calm as I can. Sometimes, like now, I'm confused by my own emotions. I nod slowly. Liz smiles, like a sunflower opening up in the sun (p108).

Being a product of two cultures does have its merit -- I'm able to adapt strengths from each culture and ignore the weaknesses (p190).


Have you read this book? 
If you have, I would love to hear what you think!
I'll link your review here if you wish!

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Young Adult


  1. @Juju - that's what's so nice about blogging, we can get to learn about new books we otherwise wouldn't have heard of! :)