Post number sixteen is for Lensey Namioka’s Mismatch, which was a recommended title for my YA Lit course. Normally I wouldn’t have read a recommended title (as opposed to a required title), but my group is responsible for this week’s book discussion, and it was just easier if we all took one book, instead of splitting two books between three people.
The main narrator of this book is sixteen-year-old Sue Hua, who is a Chinese-American growing up in Seattle. Her family moves to the suburbs, meaning she and her older sister Rochelle have to attend a new high school. Sue is a viola player, and at her orchestra audition, she meets Andy Suzuki, a Japanese-American. Sue immediately likes Andy, but fears that she will be unable to date him, due to her mother and grandmother’s feelings on the Japanese people due to their treatment of the Chinese during the Japanese occupation of China during WWII. Andy, likewise, has a father who has some prejudices toward the Chinese, based on a business experience in Beijing. During all of this, the orchestra is also preparing for a trip to Japan, where they’ve been invited to perform at a Japanese high school. Sue’s mother doesn’t want her to go, but doesn’t openly forbid it, and in the end she does end up traveling to Japan. The families also have to confront their preconceived notions regarding the other culture, when Andy and Sue’s relationship is exposed.
The book to me had a very trustworthy narrator, because the author was born in Beijing before moving to Seattle when she was young. She is also married to a Japanese-American. So that part of the story rung true. However, I had some quibbles with some of the orchestra parts, especially those that talked about being worn out after rehearsals. I played in various orchestras for eleven years, several of which required more than one rehearsal per day, and can never once remember being worn out afterwards. I don’t know; maybe I was doing it wrong. :-P
Also, I felt like some of the lines regarding Americans (“Americans come in all different shapes, sizes and colors”) were, while true, also a bit idealistic. It’s true that America is a country of immigrants, but I don’t personally feel that we’re as open-minded as the author was making us out to be. Again, though, I was not born in another country; perhaps she has a better grip on this than I do, having had to go through the immigration process.
All in all this was a decent book. I wasn’t in love with it, but didn’t hate it, either. “Okay” would probably be the word I used to describe my feelings.