Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok

Mambo in ChinatownCharlie Wong is stuck in a dead end job as a dishwasher at the restaurant where her father also works as a noodle maker. She’s tried other jobs, but they never last long because she is a disorganized klutz who makes a lot of mistakes. She has gotten up her nerve, though, and applied for a new job as a receptionist at a dance studio. Charlie would love to get this job because the studio reminds her of her mother, who died when Charlie was only 11. She was a dancer, and Charlie remembers a little of what her Mom taught her about dancing.

Poor Charlie. She gets the job, but she is not any better at being a receptionist than anything else she’s tried. She messes up the class schedules and irritates all the dancers. Just before she is going to be fired, though, she finds a hidden talent that is valuable to the studio: she is a good teacher. She may not be the best dancer, but she is really good with new students. The studio decides it would be worth keeping her on and training her to teach more classes.

Charlie becomes immersed in the life of the dance studio when she starts teaching. The more time she spends at the studio, the less time she has to worry about the other problems in her life. Her father is very traditional so she is not allowed to date and she even has to hide her dancing clothes from him. When her little sister gets sick, her father insists on trying ancient Chinese medicine instead of modern techniques. However, she keeps getting sicker and no one can figure out the cause of her illness.

Jean Kwok’s novel is an enjoyable tale of finding your true calling, and how every “ugly duckling” has a swan inside them. Charlie’s life begins anew because of a new job, but also because she finds her confidence. As her life away from home improves, Charlie finds the strength to face her personal problems.

If you like this novel, try Kwok’s first book: Girl in Translation.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog.

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